Guide to Keeping Kids Mentally & Physically Active During TV Time

Greetings from my couch to yours! As the whole world seems to be put under lockdown, many parents are finding themselves home… with their kids… for the foreseeable future. For me and my fellow SAHM’s of little little ones, this doesn’t really change our day to day too much. But for parents who work, and especially anyone with school-aged kids… this is a major change in routine!

I’ve seen some schedules floating around the internet to make this time home as productive as possible. I hope families are able to get into a new routine that works for them, but realistically I think there may be more down time than what the sample schedules show. And when it comes to kids these days, extra down time at home means one thing: TV time!

Is it fair to expect any parent to stick to a strict no TV policy when they’re unexpectedly stuck at home with kids all day who are always soooooo bored? Haha. Instead of preaching about being low-tech during this strange time, I’ve decided to work with it. Let the kids watch TV, but include some easy (& fun) activities for them to do WHILE they watch it! So below you’ll find some simple activities that encourages keeping kids active during TV time.

Guide to Keeping Kids Mentally & Physically Active during TV Time |

Here are some ideas for keeping kids mentally and physically active during TV time:

Mental Stimulation

1. Pause at different points in the show, and talk about the scene they just watched. Was the character right or wrong in how they acted? What would they personally have done if in that scenario? TV shows often have underlying themes to them, so this can help then tap into that deeper message.

2. Play a game where you pick out some unremarkable detail about a scene. Maybe a bowl of bananas and apples sitting on the table. Let them know you’re picking something out to test them with afterwards, but don’t tell them what!

Once the scene ends, ask them about the detail you chose. Sticking to the fruit bowl example, you could ask what fruit was in the bowl on the table.

3. If you work from home or are otherwise busy, have printed out questions ahead of time. This is a great way for older kids to get TV time in, but still have an educational aspect as well. Look below for some critical thinking questions and in the activity pack! There are also some silly and easier questions for younger kiddos.

Depending on the show they are watching, choose some of the questions for them to answer, and have them write their answers in a notebook. If you’re familiar enough with what the show/movie, there is space to add your own questions that are more specific to that particular show!

4. Play I-Spy! Take turns picking something out and having the other person guess what it is. The only clue can be what color it is, just like regular I-Spy. The extra time constraint will give it a fun sense of urgency to find the right “thing” before the scene changes. Look for the bonus I-Spy game printable in the activity pack below!

5. Themed pretend play is a great way to expand on a TV show and add some imagination to it. If it’s a favorite show or movie, maybe they already have dress up clothes or themed toys to use! If not, try to find clothes that resemble their favorites. 

Then everyone gets into character for some good old-fashioned pretend play! I love seeing my kids take an idea they saw on TV and changing it to make it their own.

Guide to Keeping Kids Mentally & Physically Active during TV Time |

Physical Activities

1. Get up and dance!! Lots of kids movies and shows have musical numbers throughout, so take advantage of it. What better way to break up the monotony of sitting there than to start dancing to a fun song? The activity pack below has a list of some of the best songs from movies to dance to!

2. Have activity breaks. If you are watching something on cable, commercials are perfect for this. Otherwise you can just pause the show in regular intervals to do something together. A quick card game, help with a chore, make nachos for a tv snack (lol). Anything to break up their time spent staring at a screen and bring them back to real life for a moment!

3. Turn tv time into a workout! Have you ever seen those drinking games where you take a drink every time something predictable happens in the movie/show? Take that idea and make it kid friendly with exercises instead! 

I first shared this idea in my post on ways to keep your kids creative when cooped up during the winter. Now I’m expanding it to make examples for a few more popular shows and movies! Find several different “workouts” for your kids’ favorites in the printable pack below.

Guilt Free TV Time

There’s definitely no shame in letting your kids watch TV, especially when so much craziness is happening and we’re all on lockdown. I hope these ideas for keeping kids active during TV time help you feel better about it. You can sit down and have a break, and they get some Disney+… basically the parenting version of having your cake and eating it too 🙂

Sending prayers of health and sanity to all my mama friends! Please feel free to share this with anyone home with their kiddos that may benefit from it. 

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Guide to Keeping Kids Mentally & Physically Active during TV Time |


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9 thoughts on “Guide to Keeping Kids Mentally & Physically Active During TV Time

  1. Even though my kids are grown—18 and 21—because they are home with us, I feel the need to keep them hopeful and busy, so we have regular things that we do together (like yard work and spring cleaning, as well as family movie time), so that we can all stay mentally strong and connected in this weird time (which is the start of their adult life). Thanks for reminding us how important this is!

  2. These are some great ideas! My son has been home from school for about three weeks now and he’s starting to lose motivation! I will definitely be implicating some of these activities. Thank you!

  3. You’ve got some great ideas here. I especially love the TV questions idea – bowl of fruit – I never would have thought of this. It teaches concentration, observation and recall! Loved this post!

  4. I appreciate the idea of being active and engaged when watching – my kids get so excited about different shows that they are literally jumping up and down. And video games? It’s almost a sport because they all end up sweaty and tired! 🙂

    1. Lol! Reminds me of when I was younger playing those racing games- if I was making the car steer left I would lean left with it!

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