Unplugged Family Activities


It’s time to get our 11-year-old son a phone and I’ve been pondering what his relationship with technology should look like. Becoming “unplugged” is more and more difficult in today’s world.

I don’t know where I heard the quote, “When the phone was tied to a wire, humans were free,” but it’s stuck with me. I don’t want a kid on his phone at the dinner table, in his bed, while we’re having a conversation, scrolling when he’s with a group of friends, or while he’s driving.

Technology is part of our life and it’s not going anywhere. And, I love a good scroll more than anybody! But, setting examples of when, where, and how to use technology starts with me and creating things to do that don’t involve technology is part of helping him find a healthy balance with technology.

Tune in to your area

Des Moines Mom is an amazing resource for events and activities happening in central Iowa. It’s so easy to miss things right in our own backyard. Check your local library or chamber of commerce and follow small businesses on social media to plug into the events happening in your area.

Local Colleges and Universities

Iowa State, Drake, and DMACC all offer all sorts of events that are open to the public. Catch a volleyball game at Drake, experience a play at DMACC, or learn something new at an Iowa State lecture.

Sports, plays, concerts – you can find a lot of those things at local colleges and universities!

At-home unplugged activities

I get it, leaving the house with the entire family and making them do something can be exhausting! So, stay home.

  • Make S’mores – Making a special treat and eating it together always opens the door for conversations. Build a bonfire and toast away! S’mores can also easily be made in the oven.
  • Arrange Flowers – Head to the grocery store (or Trader Joe’s!). Pick out two or three bunches of flowers. Then, let your kids go to town, cutting the stems and making their perfect arrangement. As the daughter of a flower-shop owner, this is really fun and the kids love their creations on display.
  • Make a card – Keep blank, flat notecards on hand. They’re great for making little drawings that can be cards. Have your kids make a few and send them off to grandparents, a neighbor’s house, or a local organization.
  • Get a ball – In our sports-crazed society (guilty!), it’s easy to think we need a lot of expensive equipment to play sports. Get a cheap playground ball. From there, volleyball (keep the ball in the air), soccer (trees can be goals), kickball (towels can be bases), or four square are all family-friendly games you can play.

    Have a toddler? Get a bunch of little plastic balls and put them in a laundry basket or pack and play. They’ll be busy for hours, screen free!
  • Make a treat – Make Rice Krispie bars, pudding, a snack mix, or some other super-easy treat. Your kids can help you, they learn something and everyone gets a fun treat. 
  • Stargaze – This will use technology but stargazing with an educational app can be a fun way to teach your kids about the sky.

Keep it off the ‘gram

I know, I know – the entire point of Instagram stories is this obsession we have with being in-the-moment with friends and strangers alike. And, I love stories, too!

But, if I want to be intentional with my time, I need to take pictures and post them later. I am not wasting time crafting the perfect caption while my kids wait around for my “important posts.” By posting later, they also have no idea their cute little faces are on social media – and for now, that’s a good thing.

What are your favorite unplugged activities?


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