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Screen Free At-Home Winter Schedule (Elementary Years)

Those long winter months—you know what I am talking about!

The pent up energy, the running around the house, the jumping and leaping… I only have 1 child, so I can’t imagine the noise you may have with many little ones bursting with energy.  I am sure there are a lot of pillow forts!

So let me offer one suggestion: don’t let your kids say the word “bored”.  Tell them it is a bad word.  Ever since my son has been young, I have not let him say the word “bored”.  He said it once when he was three, and I told him that was a bad word.  He never said it since then (thank God).  I know this sounds silly, but I do think it changes things. I never realized how grateful I am that he doesn’t say that word until I was around another child who kept saying it over and over again in the midst of a fun activity.

When your child says, “I’m bored” give them a musical instrument, a board game, a puzzle, or have them run around outside in the cold with their gloves and hat on of course.  We make it priority to bundle up every single day (except on rainy days) after homework time for around 30 minutes to an hour before it gets dark.  I often don’t want to go out since it is so cold, but making this a priority is important to our son so he can play outside!

Today, I would love to share the schedule we have followed for years now that works for us.  This schedule has been great for my son’s elementary school years. We do not use iPads or have screen time.  We do make movie night Thursday night, but we keep the rest of the weekdays TV and screen free.  This makes a huge difference as well! Screens actually can make us more “bored”.  Really?! Yes, so try to commit to a plan where you are implementing less screen time! Screen time will just make your kids more frustrated, restless, inattentive, and bored in the long term.

Here is the schedule we follow during those long winter months AFTER homework is completed without using any screens (except on Thursday).  It changes during the summer due to more outside time, plus there is no school.  I will share my summer schedule later on in another blog article.

Each Weekday

Every day after school, we will do homework and a healthy snack/drink right away as soon as he gets in the door.  This homework time usually lasts us around 40 minutes lately.  After this, he knows he can go outside and play! We go outside together and play usually until it gets dark.  After that, we have specific activities we try to commit to each evening.

Here are the themed nights we aim to follow during our school week. This has been great during this season of our life (elementary school years). I know it will change though when my son gets involved in more sports as the years go on.  For now, I am enjoying this short phase!

Monday: Baking/Cooking and Game Room Night

This evening, I try to make it a priority to include my son in preparing our meal or baking something fun.  At the close of the night, we will often go into the game room and play ping-pong, basketball, foosball, or ice hockey.  I’m grateful we have these games in our basement to play with especially during the winter months! We got the smaller version of ping-pong, foosball, and ice hockey since it is less expensive and takes up less space.

Tuesday: Game Night

This evening, we will go upstairs to our game area in our hallway and pick out 2 games depending on how long they take.  Our favorites lately are Life, Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Checkers. If I don’t make this intentional, it won’t happen. We have so many hand me down board games, so I try to make it a priority to do this once a week. That’s why having it each week like this in this structured format helps me to follow it more closely. There are also some amazing learning games for spelling and math, but I will share that in another blog article.


Wednesday: Music Lesson/Playing Music Together Night

I know not every child plays an instrument, so you could turn music on more intentionally this evening.  If your child is interested in the piano, you could get them a keyboard and set up the Piano Maestro app which will teach them the notes in a child-friendly way that is easy to follow.  I highly recommend the Piano Maestro app.  My son started using it when he was four, and it gave him the confidence he needed to keep going with learning his notes.  You could also find a music teacher to start lessons and see how it goes! The best time to introduce music to your child is when they are in their elementary school years.  You could even just set up a little microphone for them to sing along. This has to be intentional since we often get too busy.  This evening my son has violin lessons, but in the extra free time we have together I will play the piano, my husband will play his saxophone, and he will play his violin or keyboard with us.  This proves to be a fun time where we can all play music together before/after his violin lesson.

Thursday: Movie and Chore Night

My son enjoys being able to pick out a parent-approved movie this evening and having popcorn! We go all out with the popcorn and icecream this evening since we don’t do this on the other week nights. We don’t usually have time to finish the entire movie though (it carries into a Saturday usually). It’s relaxing for us as well since we are usually pretty tired by this day due to the demands of work and home. We find our son is usually pretty tired by this day as well due to all of his homework he does leading up to this day. We also try to do one or two of our chores this evening before the movie that don’t take much time even if it just putting our laundry away or picking up toys.

Friday: (usually changes)

This night changes depending on family plans, so I leave this night open for anything we may want to do together.

I hope you find this schedule helpful as you build in more family time that is intentional.  I can’t say we follow it perfectly each week, but we aim to do most of it.  Don’t feel like you have to follow a schedule down to all the details either.  Just do what works the best for your family.  Many evenings we are extremely exhausted from work, so we will try to do what we can here even with little energy.  Our son will often remind us what night it is when we forget.

This schedule definitely has helped us get through the long winter months during the week. Let me know what works for your family!

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