Screen Free Week is always in May. We spend most of our time off-screen anyway but that just means I have had a lot of time to figure out what types of indoor activities will keep my kids busy. By "busy", I mean independently busy. I agree that screen-free week is a great time to spend more time with your kids but parents can't do that 24/7, we need breathers!
The number one way to make sure your kids are not whining for screen time is to get outside. However, I have to be realistic. As an apartment-dweller I cannot send the kids outside while I make dinner." When we come in from the park, we are usually indoors until bedtime. That's reality. Over time I've gathered tons and tons of ideas on my giant list of indoor activities but not all are equally easy to do at a moment's notice.
Simple Indoor Activities for Screen-Free Week
Here are 10 simple ideas that (almost) always work for me when I need my kids to play without me. (Disclaimer: not all activities are good for all ages. Use your judgement. You are responsible for your own child's safety. This post contains affiliate links.)
Sensory trays. There are tons of elaborate ideas for sensory bins on the internet. A tray of rice and beans never fails for lazy moms like me.
Ball play. I'm not even joking. Indoors. For real. Use ping pong balls, they can't break anything (or at least they haven't done so, yet). Make it extra fun by turning a cardboard box into a carnival game. In fact, this works so well, I usually have to take the balls away when it is time for the boys to set the table. If you are feeling ambitious take a look at these 20 indoor ball games.
Books. Depending on your situation this may or may not work for you. With my older son, even as a pre-reader he would sit and look at a new stack of books for an hour before he demanded I read them. Now, that he is older he spends lots of independent time reading. With my younger son, it's a bit of a toss-up if books will keep him busy without me. If your kids like to look at books independently, bring home the biggest pile you can carry from the library. In fact, I've even got a list of picture books for kids that celebrate living screen free.
Work on a Surprise. Kids love to wow and impress their parents! Ask them to come up with a story or show that they will perform for you later. This is a win-win. During dinner prep they can work on the surprise. After dinner, they can supply the entertainment!
Rediscover a toy. No doubt there is a toy at the back of the closet that will become a new-found treasure. Dig it out. Instant indoor activity!
Set up a mixing station. It's unfair to call this idea "simple". However, setting up a row of dishes filled with a few interesting ingredients for mixing can lead to some fun scientific exploration. Baking soda, corn starch, white vinegar, seltzer, all these will provide a fun base for budding scientists. This is better for older kids. Coffee Cups and Crayons has an easy idea for a "does it dissolve?" experiment kids can do at the kitchen counter.
Free Art. Cover the table or floor with big paper. Get out the markers, paint or other medium of choice. Ask your kids to create a huge mural.
Let Them Be. Why offer them anything to do at all? Boredom is the mother of invention. After all, kids need boredom. Let them come up with their own indoor activities.