4 Quick Tips For Limiting Screen Time

I’m not going to lie, my kids have had more tech time lately than I’d care to admit right now. But they’re stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time with little breaks to get out of the house.

My 5-year-old has a broken arm and a cast up to his elbow, so we’re limited on what we can do. On top of that, we live on a busy street and our front yard is really steep. Our backyard is non-existent because our house is next to a creek. Plus we decided a few months ago to redo our back deck, and unfortunately it’s currently in pieces.

Eventually we’ll have a brand new back deck and hopefully will be able to enjoy the outside a little more. But for now, I’m trying to be creative and finding activities to do outside like chalk obstacle courses, animal charades, jump the river, shadow drawings, and basically whatever you can do on a giant grassy slope.

Playing Jump The River

Get two long sticks or pieces of rope. Put them about a foot apart and see who can jump across. Move the rope or sticks back a little further apart and try again. The person who can make the longest jump wins!

Shadow Drawings

Shadow Drawings

We’re lucky to live in a neighborhood with lots of trails and a beautiful lake, but everyone else has had the idea to use them too and that can make social distancing hard.

Despite my best efforts, there have been plenty of days over the past few weeks where we haven’t even gotten outside. I’m ok with my kids getting more screen time than usual right now, but some days I just want them to play.

As a former play therapist, I know the importance of play. I know that kids need to use their creative minds. I also know that play is their language when they don’t have the words to say what they want to. So I’m trying to encourage play as much as possible.

I will be the last to judge you if you let your kids have tech time all day, but sometimes I feel like my kids need a break from it.

If you need help getting your kids off their screens, I have a few tips that might help.




My kids get up around 7 am most mornings. I’m not a morning person at all. So they’re allowed to play video games or watch tv until I get up, but at 9 am they know they have to turn them off.

I’ve also made the rule that they can’t play video games during the week until they finish their school work. And then I try to limit their tech time to 1 hour. They usually get to watch tv at night before bed too.


I try to give my kids a warning 5 minutes before their time is going to be up so there won’t be any surprises. That way they can finish up their game too.


I’m definitely not always consistent, but I try the best I can. If your child knows that when you say something you mean it, they are less likely to try to talk you out of it when you enforce a limit.


Sometimes if I have an activity planned like chalk painting outside. Once I get them outside they come up with other fun things to do on their own.

Here’s a super easy way to make chalk paint!

  • Put a few tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Add a few tablespoons of water.
  • Add food coloring.
  • Mix it up!
Chalk Painting

Chalk Painting

For more ideas check out Days With Gray. Beth has tons of fun activities to do with kids and her Breakfast Invitations make setting your kids up to play without screens easy to do.

What fun activities are you doing with your kids?

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Using Art To Talk When Kids Lose A Pet

Losing a pet is something you never want to deal with, but unfortunately it’s part of having them. When you add kids into the mix, this can be even harder. Finding the words to talk to your kids when you’re dealing with your own grief can feel overwhelming! But this art activity can make it easier for kids to share their feelings without having to push them to talk. 

When we had to say goodbye to our dog Andre after having him for almost 14 years, I learned how to do this the hard way. Even as a former child therapist, I had no idea how to talk to my kids about death. I’d never had to do it before. Plus I didn’t want to say anything that would upset them more. We had talked about our loved ones who are in heaven, but they all passed away before they were born.


My mom is a retired elementary art teacher and although I’m not as talented as her, I do have a love for art. When we don’t have the words to talk about how we’re feeling, we can use art to express ourselves and uncover emotions that we didn’t even know existed. Young children haven’t developed the words to express how they’re feeling and art is a great way to help them do that!

Using “Color Your Heart” to Process Losing A Pet

Color Your Heart is an activity that I used often in my play therapy practice. What I love about this activity is that it’s super simple and doesn’t require any artistic talent. It also helps you name your emotions, which is a great way to help kids develop empathy. Here’s how to do it:  

Step 1: Lay The Groundwork

First, I asked my boys if they wanted to do an activity with me. Sometimes they’re really excited about doing crafty activities and sometimes it’s a struggle to get them onboard. Luckily this time they were interested and it didn’t take much convincing. 

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies 

Next, I got out a few sheets of blank paper and some crayons. On each sheet of paper I drew a large heart and a few small boxes to the side.

Step 3: Name Your Feelings

I started with my youngest because I knew that he was likely to copy whatever his brother said, and I wanted to get genuine answers from him. I asked him to tell me which feelings he had in his heart. 

Then I told him to color in the box with the color that he thought went with that feeling. I let him know that he could choose any color he wanted for each feeling. First, he said he was happy and excited. And then he said, “Is it ok if I put one that’s not nice?”

I told him that we could write down any feelings that he was having and it didn’t matter what kind they were. So then he named worried, mad, and sad. It was important for him to get permission to express negative feelings too. People are often afraid to share these emotions, but keeping them inside is unhealthy. The earlier we can teach kids that it’s ok to have them, the better they’ll be at coping with them. 

Step 4: Color It In

Once he was done listing the feelings in his heart, I asked him to color it in with the colors that showed how he was feeling.

Since he chose green for excited, he would color in a little bit of green if he was feeling a little bit excited and a lot of green if he was feeling really excited.

Step 5: Process The Feelings

As he was coloring my son started to tell me about why he chose the feelings that he did. If he didn’t, I could have given him a little encouragement to share by saying things like, “You put a lot of red! Can you tell me about that?” or “Do you want to tell me about the colors you put in your heart?” 

blog heart activity2I also had my older son do this. He had an easier time sharing why he chose the feelings that he put in his heart. I expected that though since he’s almost 3 years older! 


I’m really glad that I did this activity with my boys. They both ended up telling me unprompted that they put sad in their hearts, because they were sad about our dog dying.

It gave them an easy way to get the feelings out that they were keeping bottled up. They also began to ask questions later that day about death and dying. I think this activity opened the door for them to talk about things they normally wouldn’t have. They both shared about experiences they had at school that day that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

Adults can do this activity too!

Just because we grow up and learn how to express our feelings doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Using art to express ourselves can be a really powerful thing. I encourage you to try art therapy yourself! You can find some easy art activities on Pinterest that don’t require a lot of supplies.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use art to express yourself, there is a great book called Visual Journaling, by Barbara Ganim that can help you get started. This book includes simple art activities that teach help you use images instead of words to dig deeper into the part of your brain where your feelings are stored. It can help adults manage stress and anger, which is something we all need at times! 

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