Screen-free play ideas

Screen-Free Play Ideas So Mom Can Work

You’ve gotta work. Is it possible to get your kids to play…screen-free?

Why yes it is. I got you, mama. I’ve reached out to some of my working mom/blogging friends for their best screen-free play ideas. Whether you’ve got toddlers attached to you ankles or 10-year-olds with video game controllers attached to their hands, there is an idea for your family.

And just to be clear…my kids play on screens. We have tablets. And we have Netflix et al. We even have a Nintendo Switch. But I definitely look for ideas to break up their screen time with some screen-free fun.

One quick suggestion before we dive into the screen-free play ideas you might use…spend some quality time with your kiddos before you need them to play independently. It may be reading a book or having a tea party. Or sitting with them at breakfast without a phone or laptop. It doesn’t have to be hours. Sometimes just 15-30 minutes before your start your “work hours”. Engaging with kids before you need them to play independently will help you start your work knowing you’ve given them some undivided attention. Good for your family. Great for your mom guilt. 😉

For more on teaching your kids independent play skills, you can check out my “Independence Skills for Independent Kids” course. But now, let’s jump into the fun stuff…

Screen-Free Play Ideas from My House

I’ll start with a list of favorites from my house. My boys are 7 and 9 but I’ll include some of their favorites from their younger years. 😭

  • Kinetic Sand (preferred over Play-Doh)
  • Hot Wheels Cars (be sure to check out the super cool track idea from Emily below)
  • Figure Play with Dinosaurs and Transformers
  • Large Floor Puzzles featuring Dinosaurs and Space
  • Duplos/Legos/Kid K’nex (my boys have played with this set for 6+ years)

We keep a fairly minimal household when it comes to toys so don’t think you need more to occupy your kids. One thing that helped me was to look for open ended play like the figures or the cars. That way they weren’t running to me after 10 minutes when the puzzle was finished or the game was done. Open ended play allows them to create a story with no end (well, hopefully.)

Schedule Your Screen-Free Play Times

My good friend Rose Lounsbury is a keynote speaker and minimalism and simplicity coach. She is also mom to 11 year old triplets. #handsfull She says they stick with the tried-and-true old faithfuls like sidewalk chalk, Legos, simple art supplies that make kids do most of the work (aka markers and plain paper), craft kits that kids can do on their own, books, trampoline in the backyard, bikes and scooters.

At 11, Rose’s triplets are able to do more independent play than younger kids but she’s found that the key is creating a SCHEDULE they can stick to and come to rely on. They brainstorm the schedule TOGETHER so they have ownership and honestly, her kids just follow this every day. Sometimes she will remind them if they start to slack on it but they’re so used to following a schedule that it’s second nature now. Check out an example of her schedule below. And you can connect with Rose on Instagram and Facebook.

Summer Schedule - Screen-Free Play Ideas
Photo Courtesy of Rose Lounsbury

Screen-Free Play Ideas for Toddlers

Next, we jump to Kristen Holland who blogs at Gracefully Busy. One of her favorite ideas was to set up an indoor obstacle course. She encourages her 2-year-old son through the course a few times and cheers him on. Once he’s burned out some energy on the obstacle course, he will spend time playing with it on his own. Check out her obstacle course below.

Obstacle Course - Screen-Free Play
Photo Courtesy of Gracefully Busy

Kristen has lots of other great ideas for screen-free and independent play ideas for your toddlers in her post “9 Activities to Keep Your Toddler Busy at Home.”

Screen-Free Play Ideas for All Ages

My friend Emily from Happy Organized Life is no stranger to keeping kids occupied. Along with writing a successful blog and homeschooling, Emily is mom to 7 (well, nearly 7…#7 is due this fall but close enough 🤣) I love Emily’s round-up of ideas for pool noodle fun. Especially with summer winding down and what could potentially be a long fall and winter, she features great ideas to repurpose your stockpile of pool noodles for outdoor and indoor fun. As a mom of Hot Wheels loving boys, I especially love the idea of the Hot Wheels tracks pictured below.

Photo courtesy of Ramblings from Utopia

You can check out Emily’s full round-up of pool noodle ideas on her post “Fun Pool Noodle Activities”. She also featured a slew of electronics-free play ideas in her post “How to Have Fun Indoors Without Electronics”. One of my favorites is this Mission: Impossible-style laser maze made from streamers. What a great way to use up the ends of the streamer roll from your last birthday celebration!

Photo courtesy of Brassy Apple

If you want more ideas for a Happy Organized Life from Emily, you can connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

What are your favorite screen-free, electronics-free play ideas for your kids? I’m always looking for new ideas…share yours below!


Grab my free mini-course “10 Tips for Working While Kids are Home” here!

Want more support around time management, productivity, and working mom mindset? Join my free Early Morning Moms Facebook Group.

Alexa Productivity for Moms

Alexa Productivity Tips for Moms

Alexa, make my mom life easier.

Wait, is that possible? While it might not be quite that easy, today I’m sharing awesome tips for moms using your Amazon Alexa. I use my Alexa daily for offloading thoughts from my brain and managing tasks for my family. And I’d love to help other moms use their Alexa to do the same!

They regularly run $49 but you can often find deals when you buy more than one or for Prime Day (which is rumored to take place in October of 2020).

I want to share how I use the features and skills on my Amazon Alexa to help take some of the load off my mom brain. If I can add an item to my grocery list or schedule it on my calendar when it pops into my brain, I’m so much less likely to forget it. And there are some great features to help my family get out the door or go to bed at night.

My introduction to Alexa for productivity came when I interview Brittany Dixon of Process for Profit about Productivity Tips for Moms on my “Cocktails and Containers” podcast. (You can listen to Mom Productivity Tips & Cucumber Gin Cocktails here.) Her first tip was to use a digital assistant in just this way. When you free up bandwidth in your brain, you can focus better on those truly important things for your family.

Alexa Features to Clear Mom Mental Clutter

Features are built-in skills that every Alexa comes pre-programmed with. You’ll never have to search for your cell phone or pen and paper when you use your Alexa to create lists and events:

  • Creating Lists….By creating a custom list through the Alexa app, you can easily add items to a grocery or to-do list. Simply say “Alexa, add peanut butter to my grocery list” or “Alexa, add mop floors to my to-do list.”
  • Adding Events to Calendar… When you connect your digital calendar through your Alexa app, you can add events to your calendar via voice command. Just say “Alexa, add doctor’s appointment to my calendar for July 15th at 1pm”
  • Checking the Weather…My final suggestion is to check in on the weather the night before. I like to keep my mornings as simple as possible. If I know it’s going to rain or snow or just knowing the temp, I lay out what’s needed for the next day like hats, boots, etc. That way I’m not searching for things in the morning. I also like getting my weather from Alexa because I avoid getting sidetracked checking the weather on my phone. (Please tell me someone else can relate?!?)

Alexa Features to Make Mom Life Easier

Whether it’s keeping me from screaming up the stairs or helping me transition my kids with routines, here’s how Alexa puts the “assist” in digital assistant:

  • Drop Ins….We use this feature like an in-home intercom. From my Alexa device or app, I can tell my kiddos to stop fighting, get in bed, or dinner is ready. You can also drop in on other approved devices like grandparents, cousins, or friends.
  • Routines…Custom routines are regular reminders programmed to give warning that a transition is coming or that an action should take place. Routines are great for mornings when you are trying to get your family out the door. You can program phrases like “time to get your shoes” or “don’t forget your lunch.” Or use routines at bedtime to make sure the kids to all the things like brushing teeth, getting water, and picking up toys. (Read more about our specific bedtime routine below). You can customize your routine to start at a certain time, by voice command, or by pressing the Alexa button. The routine can include phrases from Alexa, music played from your connected music source, or even utilize your connected smart home devices like turning lights on and off.
  • Smart Home Devices…These connected devices can be controlled by voice through the Alexa devices in your home or via the Alexa app on your phone. Devices include lightbulbs, power strips and outlets, enabled TV, doorbells, baby monitors, door locks and even a sprinkler system. Here is the link to a 4 pack of Smart Bulbs we have in our house.

Building Your Own Alexa Skills

Amazon helps you build your own custom Alexa skills through their Amazon Blueprint website. You can develop a custom chore chart for your kids or design a workout for yourself. Make a task tracker to make sure your to-do list gets to-done. Create custom flashcards to quiz your kids. Or make a custom list of important information for houseguests, babysitters or pet sitters. In a matter of minutes you can have your own custom skill. And it’s FREE!

Our Alexa Bedtime Routine

We started using Alexa at bedtime when I realized that my high energy and my youngest son’s high energy did not create a great environment to slow down and go to sleep. He was much more successful if he had a chance to wind himself down without me creating excitement right before lights out. Here’s our routine:

  1. Brush teeth and get water.
  2. Mom comes up for good night kisses around 8pm.
  3. Boys are permitted to play quietly or look at books during what we have dubbed “half time”.
  4. Alexa gives a 5 minute warning at 8:25pm that it is time to wind things down and clean up. She also dims our Alexa-enabled bulb to 50%.
  5. At 8:30pm, Alexa announces its time for bed and turns the lamp a light blue color. The lamp acts as a nightlight which turns off at midnight as part of the routine.

We’ve used and tweaked this routine successfully for nearly 2 years. And it buys me valuable time in the evening with my husband. Most importantly, it helps my 6 year old fall asleep faster.

Ok moms, what are some of your favorite Alexa features or skills you use in your home? Is there something I’ve missed? 


Grab my free mini-course “10 Tips for Working While Kids are Home” here!

Want more support around time management, productivity, and working mom mindset? Join my free Early Morning Moms Facebook Group.