Downtime is truely unstructured, “go play” time. It’s suggested children have an hour of downtime a day through 10 years old. With the pace of life, downtime can be hard to come by. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Turn of the tv and computers – Screentime is anti-downtime. When children are in front of a screen, they are still being otherwise entertained. If the tv is just on the background, it’s a temptation. It can be helpful to set guidelines for screentime for the family and then really stick to it.
- Provide space – It may be setting up a play area with their favorite toys, a reading area with comfortable beanbags or a craft corner with supplies and a good size table. Think about the activities your child prefers and then create the space around them.
- Build downtime into the schedule – If you tend to overschedule, you may have to actually put this on the calendar. Block off the time they can be unproductive.
- Focus on true toys – It may be helpful to provide more basic, open-ended toys such as blocks, dolls, balls, craft supplies or a cardboard box. Once given, let children plan the play.
- Get them outside – Outside play provides trees, sticks, rocks, puddles and dirt. There’s also room for tag and throwing balls.
- A little boredom is good – Children who can’t entertain themselves and get bored easily when given downtime, likely just need more practice. Given space and time they will learn how to entertain themselves. Have patience, this is a good skill to develop.