Hannah Lynes

How can I get my children off their screens? – Part 1: The Holiday Spidergram

So, how do your holidays go? Do you start with lots of ideas about going on outings to museums and organising art and craft activities around the kitchen table? And then you get to the end and you realise your children have spent most of the time lounging in their pyjamas in the darkest room in your house and have barely looked up from Minecraft/Fortnite/Roblox the whole time? And you see on Instagram how your friends’ children have all been doing exciting activities all summer and then you think you’re the worst parent in the whole world? Not that that’s ever happened to me, obviously…

But never fear – help is at hand! I have just the thing to get your next holiday (or even weekend, or just generally life) off to a flying start! It’s … drumroll… the holiday spidergram!!!

The holiday spidergram uses a pretty basic tool that most people are familiar with to get your family thinking a bit more imaginatively about how you want to spend your time. All you need is a big piece of paper, or other suitable surface, some pens, and ideally some post-its, but you could manage without post-its if you don’t happen to have any lying around.

So, step 1: get your big piece of paper, or other surface and write “What can we do?” in the middle of it. Draw a circle/box around what you’ve written.

Step 2: think of some questions you can ask yourselves that will prompt you to think of things to do. We made up our own and you can do that, but if you’re not sure where to start you can use ours. Here they are:

  • What do I want to get done?
  • What art or DIY projects do I want to do?
  • What cooking projects?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • Who/how can I help?
  • What maths/science do I want to do?
  • What haven’t I played with yet/recently?
  • What TV/film/book do I want to watch/read?
  • How can I get exercise?
  • What would I like to change?
  • What can we all do together?
  • What’s fun by myself?
  • What are my long term plans?

Step 3: draw some lines coming from your “What can we do” box and write your questions at the end of the lines.

Step 4: Give everyone in your family some post-its and tell them to look at the questions and write any answers down on their post-its. They can then stick each of their post-its next to the relevant question. If any member of your family is unable or unwilling to write, they can tell you their answers and you can write for them. If you haven’t got post-its, then just write your ideas around the relevant question.

Step 5: Well, that’s it! Stick your big piece of paper somewhere prominent in your home. Then when you’re not sure what to do next, you can look at your spidergram and pick something.

I mean, it’s not 100% guaranteed to get anyone off their screen, but it’s a good start. Even if you manage to do one or two new things, that’s progress, right? And if you’re still struggling to get the kids out of their darkened room, I have more ideas for you – read part 2 in my “How to get your children off their screens” series the random activity spinner.



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