As hard as extended periods at home may be for adults, being homebound can be even tougher for high-energy kids. We’ve rounded up several ideas for activities and routines that can ease the cabin fever.
Set up a home “office” for both you and your child & keep a schedule.
Depending on the age of the child, co-creating an at-home office can provide crucial context on what the space is used for and how the following days will precede. Try to incorporate fun breaks and times for connection throughout the day so that you can continue to adhere to your work schedule while also having time to be available for your child.
Pack a lunch or have a procedure in mind for meal breaks.
Children love to have “lunch at home” when it is served in a lunchbox rather than a typical plate. Unpacking and choosing what to eat first is a delight and having it packed in a lunchbox that is easily accessible gives the child some autonomy over their hunger needs. Make lunch even more special by eating al fresco in your backyard or on your front porch.
Create a signal or communicate when you are unavailable and need a moment.
This will take practice to implement, but decide on a phrase or non-verbal cue for when it is necessary for you to focus on a task. Egg timers can work great as a way for younger children to understand when they may have a moment to connect.
If you have to take a call, giving a brief explanation of why you may need to step away will help them feel included and aware. You can also observe what they are doing and tell them what you see or hear them doing. This will let them know that you are present and attuned to them as well.
Make a checklist and identify what your priorities are.
Because of the unknown rhythm of caring for a child while working, decide what things you can take on that will make you feel the most productive. It may eliminate unnecessary time focused on non-essential tasks, leaving more time to spend with your child.
Reach out to others and divide and conquer.
Reach out to other parents in your child’s class or a teacher, if possible, to pool resources. Perhaps one person can find options for good online math lessons and another can send around recipes for a kitchen-based science experiment that everyone can do with basic pantry ingredients. Or maybe you switch off watching friends’ kids so each parent gets a few hours of quiet work time.
Leverage technology wisely.
Common Sense Media is a great resource for quality screen-time recommendations both free and paid, educational and purely recreational. They also have great tips for maintaining your child’s privacy online. Duolingo is great for language learning, Tynker for coding, and Khan Academy for academic subjects.
Get creative with video chat. In addition to checking in with grandparents, try setting up a remote play date for your kids. Some long-distance families stay connected with a Zoom or Google hangout portal that just stays open.
There are even physical screen-time options. GoNoodle offers both physical dance and movement classes and meditation videos.
A few more online resources to keep your child learning and entertained:
Embrace non-screen activities as well.
Getting outside isn’t just a good idea, it’s also a great tool for keeping your physical and mental health in check during this time. If at all possible, find time during the day to go for a walk, a bike ride, or maybe a family hike! Because the current situation calls for social distancing, and not total isolation, it’s safe and healthy to get some fresh air when you can.
While everyone’s home, try giving the kids more responsibility around the house, including cooking a meal or doing the laundry. And cleaning — there’s going to be a lot of cleaning to do!
Find a way to make some memories.
As strange as it sounds, there are actually some good opportunities here to make special memories with your kids. We will remember this time—and how we came together, or didn’t—decades from now. So, do your best to find some ways to create special moments. Maybe you all read together in a tent with a flashlight, to create a sense of adventure and camaraderie rather than fear. Or instead of a regular nightly bath, create a bubble bath that incorporates glow sticks or other fun lighting.
Kids love and appreciate magic, and anything that seems “special” or out of the ordinary. So do something to acknowledge that this time is different – and allow a new, special tradition to take root in your child’s mind.
These are the things childhood memories are made of, and despite the fear many of us feel, we do have an opportunity here.