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How to reduce screentime: Creative summer ideas

Summer break is finally here! Chances are: you've got amazing activities lined up and your calendar is full. But with littles, after about day three, you may start to lose some steam. Enter: screentime. And hey, there’s no shame in that game. We’re big proponents of keeping parents sane, even if it means relying on some high-quality kids’ programming every now and again. But if you’re hoping to reduce screentime this summer and keep your cool? We’ve got you covered with this summertime guide on how to reduce screentime. The best part? You don’t even need to leave the house for most of these ideas.

These ideas are fun, encourage imagination, and of course, have some incredible learning benefits. If you need a little extra time to tackle your summer to-do list or enjoy a well-deserved break, you can always book a sitter to lead some of these activities with the kids. 

Creative ideas to reduce screentime for kids this summer


1. Build an epic fort

You can create a magical fort outdoors for some sunshine or indoors if you prefer the shade. For indoor play, gather blankets, pillows, chairs, and unleash everyone’s inner architect. If getting outside is more your family’s speed, make it an adventure as you forage for large sticks that can be used to build an outdoor structure. Fort-building encourages problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and offers hours of fun for imaginative play once it's complete.

2. Create a backyard water park

Turn your backyard into a splash zone! Set up sprinklers, water tables, water balloons, slip-and-slides, or even a kiddie pool for low-cost summer fun that’s also great for beating the heat. Bonus for breaking out a bubble machine and setting up an umbrella. You won’t be missing the beach at all, and you may even get a chance to read a few pages in that book you’ve had on your list!

3. Become top chefs

Let the kids explore their interests and talent in the kitchen with simple, supervised recipes. You know your kids best—based on their age and motor skills you might consider cooked, raw, and no-bake kids recipes that require little precision and instruction. Try homemade popsicles, bake fun-shaped cookies, or assemble personal pizzas for a sense of accomplishment and a tasty reward. Don’t be afraid to embrace a little mess and let kids' imaginations lead.

Design a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood, a local park, or even in your own backyard or living room. Make the clues age-appropriate and add a small prize at the end. For little explorers, try a ‘BINGO’ approach by creating a checklist of all the things your might see on your adventure—like local birds, native trees, friendly neighbors, lizards, and more.

5. Sidewalk chalk masterpieces

Transform your driveway or sidewalk into their canvas. Provide colorful chalk and let them make murals, play games like hopscotch, or even practice writing and math in a fresh way. Try a non-toxic, dustless sidewalk chalk to keep everyone healthy and clean.

A sitter and child reduce screentime by building an indoor fort.

6. Start a nature journal

Encourage observation and a love of the outdoors. Collect leaves, interesting rocks, or flowers to press. For older kids, encourage reflection on their discoveries in a nature journal. This hands-on activity is perfect for connecting with the natural world and learning how to identify different plants, trees, and species in your area.

7. Have a backyard camp-out

Who doesn’t love to play pretend? No need for a campsite when you have your imagination! Pitch a tent in the yard, roast marshmallows over a fire pit, tell stories, sip juice, and stargaze before bedtime. Don’t forget to try out a mosquito net or citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay. Older kids might even be tempted to try to spend the night on the campsite…use your discretion here, and know you might end up with some extra kiddos in your bed, or even find yourself cuddled up in the tent.

8. Start a kindness project

Show your children that they can make a difference, big or small. This activity can work for children of all agesit’s never too early to model compassion and care for your neighbor. Bake cookies for neighbors, collect donations for animal shelters, or pick up litter at a park. Even toddlers can start to grasp the message behind these concepts. These acts of kindness create strong impressions for young ones that carry into the future, fostering empathy and good citizenship.


Reduce screentime and watch hours of fun unfold

As you make your plan to keep the kids entertained this summer, remember: the best memories often come from unstructured, creative playtime. With the ideas above, you’ll let your kids’ imaginations run wild, and in many cases, get some much-needed chill time in. If you ever find yourself in need of child care for errands, self-care moments, or dates during the long summer days, you can book a local, 5-star sitter to set up these fun activities for the kids.

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