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22 Interesting Non Tech Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

22 Interesting Non Tech Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer

If you think that your kids might be spending too much time in front of a screen, then you are absolutely right.

Our daily lives have become digital. We work on computers, keep our phones on us all the time and come home to relax in front of the TV. Even our cars and our coffee machines are digital.

But that doesn’t mean it’s good for us, and sitting in front of a screen all day definitely isn’t good for our children. In fact, spending too much time in front of a screen can not only make kids gain weight, studies show that it also makes them sad, sleep poorly and develop concentration issues.

It’s really important to your child’s health, development and their relationship with you (and ultimately to other people in the outside world) that you spend time with them, doing non-tech, screen-free activities.

But what can you do with your kid that is screen-free? Parents often find it challenging to think of interesting non-tech activities to do with their kids. So here are 22 ideas to get you started:

1. Cook a meal together.

Even if it is something really simple, get the kids to do jobs like grate cheese or stir a pot (older children).

They love shaping meat balls and beating up eggs too. Children of all ages love to be part of the dinner making process and it is a great way to bond with your kids while you’re busy, and, most importantly, it keeps them away from the TV / PC / video game. (No they may not grate cheese in front of the TV).

2. Go on a neighborhood adventure.

Whether you live in the city or out in the sticks, nothing could be simpler (or less expensive) than walking around your neighborhood together.

My kids and I like to make up stories about people and places that we see while we walk along. It’s good exercise and it makes them more aware of their surroundings. Your teens might need a bit more convincing to get them going, but all children enjoy getting out and about.

Younger children love to stop and look at things (leaves, bugs, anything) for what may seem like ages. That’s fine. Their brains are processing and exploring the real world. Let them take their time.

3. Make play dough.

Probably the easiest thing in the world you can make with your kids is play dough. Simply combine in a saucepan:

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2 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 Tablespoons Cream of Tatar
2 Tablespoons food coloring of your choice

Cook them all together until it pulls away from the sides of the pot in a ball. Remove from heat and allow to cool, kneading it occasionally.

For different colors, wait until after the dough is cool before adding the color. Then kneed in different colors to different sections. Kids love to play with dough, even if you don’t have cookie cutters.

4. Get a trampoline.

Trampolines can be an enormous load of fun and a great way to get your kids outdoors. They are also a good way to expend some of your kids’ limitless energy.

Just remember to focus on safety – read trampoline reviews carefully and note important details, such as whether it comes with an enclosure, the recommended weight limit, and the maximum bounce height.

5. Make a pavement Twister-board.

You don’t even need to own a regular Twister-board to play the game (although the ready-made spinner is useful).

Buy sidewalk chalk in four different colors (it’s really inexpensive) and find an old bucket lid or CD to trace around. Draw different color circles like a regular twister board on the sidewalk, the rood of your building or anywhere that you can hose off later. The kids will love the novelty of playing somewhere different and love that you are spending time being silly with them.

6. Build a jig saw puzzle together.

Depending on the age of your kids, you might do a 100 piece puzzle together, start a 1000 piece puzzle that keeps your quiet time busy for three days, or do five 12 piece puzzles in an hour. Puzzle building is great for fine motor development as well as developing visual closure.

7. Do a science experiment.

Kids love nothing better than things that blow up (as do Dads, so maybe this is a great activity for him to do with the kids). You will need an empty 2 liter soda bottle, a liter of vinegar, a packet of baking soda, a cork, a long screw and a piece of board.

First up you want to create your launch pad: work the screw through the piece of board or plank so that about an inch sticks out the other side. Now twist the cork onto the screw. You have your launch pad.

Next check that the cork fits snugly into the neck of the soda bottle, but is still loose enough to pop off easily in an “explosion.”
Now pour the vinegar into the bottle.

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You have to act quite fast for the last bit: pop the baking soda packet (it should be paper, otherwise wrap it in tissue) into the vinegar and quickly put cork into the bottle. Turnover and stand back.

When the baking soda and vinegar mix the soda bottle will pop right off the cork and fly several meters into the air.

Note: this is strictly an outdoor activity!

8. Eat a meal by candle light.

All meals should be family meals, eaten away from the TV with phones turned off. If your family will start a riot over this idea, then introduce “candle lit dinner” night.

The organic light source somehow makes it easier to have a conversation and connect to the people who are eating together.

It also creates a sense of occasion, and kids are likely to remember the special evenings spent with your full attention in a magical setting.

9. Make a water table.

You don’t need any fancy equipment for this fun summer activity. Just take out a couple of bowls, containers and jugs (preferably plastic or enamel) and fill them with water.

Make some jugs of water blue, some red and some yellow. Then find a variety of objects that float and sink and let kids experiment.

10. Bubble Up.

As with the water table above, you will need a few jugs and bowls of water outside somewhere. Then add some bubble bath (or washing up liquid) to some of the bowls.

Now give each child about half a meter of plastic fish tank piping (you can buy this really cheaply by the meter at most pet stores) and get them to blow bubbles. They will play with them for hours!

11. Make a fire.

If you don’t have your own back yard then you will have to take the kids somewhere that you can safely build an outdoor fire.

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Get the kids to scrunch balls of old newspaper to start it with and help you break up twigs for kindling and build a fire. Then sit around and roast marshmallows, tell stories and maybe even watch the stars come out.

12. Make your paper double.

Sticky tape pieces of newspaper together until you have a piece of paper the size of each person present. Then get them to lie down and trace around them with a magic marker so that you have an exact tracing of each child. Then get them to trace you

Help them cut out their double and tack it up so that you can fill yourselves in with paint, markers and crayons. This isn’t going to produce master pieces but they will have a lot of fun.

13. Bake cookies from scratch!

This is much easier to do than you think and kids of all ages love it! Here are some awesome easy cookie recipes.

If the kids get bored waiting for them to bake, let them help you wash up! Then they can decorate brown paper bags to keep the cookies in.

14. Give them chores!

Yes, we really are suggesting that your child be involved in keeping the house clean. Not only is it really good for them to get into the habit of taking responsibility for themselves, many of them actually get a sense of satisfaction out of contributing to the household.

Get them the proper gear – the best vacuum cleaner or hand vacuum, gloves, uniforms, whatever it is that gets them motivated. Give age appropriate jobs; a four year old can help pick up four teddy bears or pack up his cars. He can’t wash the dishes.

Give plenty of praise for jobs well done. Even teens secretly love being thanked and recognized when they have been helpful.

15. Read a book.

Read to your small children as often as you can. They love it. They love to hear your voice, they love to spend time with you and they love stories. Encourage older children to read too. Take them to the library to choose their own books. Make sure that your kids see you enjoying a good book from time to time too. You need to lead by example. A child who reads will be an adult who thinks!

16. Draw silly pictures.

One of the things that puts older children off to drawing is the feeling that they need to produce brilliant work. A wonderful activity is to draw intentionally silly pictures. Give each person a page folded over lengthways into four sections.

Without looking at each other’s drawings each person draws a head and neck, folding the paper over so that only the bottom of the neck sticks out. Then everyone swops papers and draws a midriff. Repeat the process until the whole body has been drawn. Then unfold your papers to reveal the silly pictures.

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17. Make peashooters and have a peashooter war.

If the idea of having tiny blobs of paper flying around your head doesn’t appeal to you, then make a target and score points for hitting it.

18. Oh go fly a kite!

Flying a kite on a windy day is something that every child should do with their parents. You can make your own, or if you really feel you lack the ability to make a flyable kite, buy a cheap one. Either way your kids will have a blast in the great outdoors.

19. Get them to volunteer.

Older kids and teens can get a lot of value out of helping others. It teaches them about community and caring for others without the familiar complaints about doing things for home.

Old age homes always need help. Whether it’s reading to someone who can’t see any more or painting the old ladies toe nails you can be sure they will appreciate the help.

Animal shelters, soup kitchens and children’s homes also always need a hand. Discuss it with your child first to see what they feel they would like to get involved with, and then pay a visit to the establishment yourself to make sure that everything is above board.

20. Build a fort!

Every child loves a fort. You can make a tent out of sheets draped over the back of the sofa or create a HQ out of an old fridge box (check to see if your local furniture shop is throwing them out) or you can get really creative and make your child their own tepee or tree house (calling Dad). Whatever kind of fort you make, the kids will love to play in it, read in it, hide in it and just hang out in it.

21. Put on a magic show.

Older kids love learning card tricks. This is one activity you may need to make a slight screen exception for, because the easiest way to learn card tricks is watch a few videos.

However, once the videos are watched, turn the computer off again and get them to go and practice. Then, either let them put on a show for you or help them put on a show for grandma, dad, or someone else.

Remember to be suitably amazed and surprised by their genius.

22. Play a family board game.

Last but not least, there is always the timeless classics. If you don’t own any board games, you can sometimes borrow them from the library.

Kids love board games. They engage the whole family and are usually loads of fun (although you might want to avoid letting siblings sit next to each other).

Card games work just as well and cards are fairly inexpensive to buy.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.imgix.net

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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