Isolating at home with kids is a task that requires constant creativity. Thinking of ways to keep them active and engaged and coming up with activities and games they enjoy is no simple endeavor; parents need to adapt and overcome these situations. Luckily, there are many sources for inspiration online, as well as free tools and advice.
If you’re in need of extra help, we’ve asked some expert parenting bloggers what their tips for dealing with this new situation are. From ways to keep kids active to discussing the much feared screen time, here’s what these parents shared with us:
Julie, founder of Fab Working Mom Life
“Living in a small space — especially during this time when parks are closed — is a challenge. Try to go on family walks around the neighborhood, and find some options for good exercise for the entire family.
My son loves doing silly minute-to-win-it type games and arts and crafts. Those are great ways to keep him motivated and having fun (and off his tablet). He’s in Pre-K so the amount of homeschooling we need to do is minimal, but I try to do a few letters and early reading activities with him daily to continue preparing him for kindergarten. If parents in a similar situation are able to take family walks along their neighborhood streets, do so daily. Parks might be closed but the outdoors is still available for a healthy lifestyle.
Try to make any activity meaningful. For example, during the walks, point out specific flowers and have your kids count the different types you see. Parents living in an area where long family walks are not as easy to accomplish can have fun, active time with their kids by following along an online video, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga. Break out the board games if kids are older, and even make clean-up a fun competition. This is the time to simplify and focus on the few things that matter so we don’t get overwhelmed with it all.”
Tara, founder of Feels Like Home
“First of all, don’t panic about screen time. Accept that your kids are going to have more screen time than usual during this weird and difficult time. Just like you are feeling the need to be more connected to the outside world, they are feeling the same need, and getting on social media or YouTube helps. More screen time also helps to keep them engaged and out of parents’ hair during work from home time. It’s not ideal, but it works.
Every kid has passions. Help yours cultivate their unique passions, even if it means more screen time or making messes. One of my daughters is in love with Minecraft. She plays Minecraft on the phone and watches endless Minecraft YouTube videos. When I lamented about this infatuation to an educator whom I really respect, she reminded me of all the things my daughter is learning while she plays and that problem solving and creativity are just as important and valuable as math and reading skills. It was an eye-opening moment for me as I realized that Minecraft is not time wasted but a valuable activity because she’s pursuing something she loves.
Finally, encourage independence in your kids. Allow them to self-monitor their activities and switch when they want. Remind them to clean up after themselves, and help a little if they need it. Show them where the (healthy) snacks are and allow them to feed themselves throughout the day. Prepare enticing “stations” where there are interesting activities or games, and give your kids the freedom to wander into and out of the stations. Don’t harass them to do what you think they should do; let them guide themselves.
My favorite thing to say to my kids is this: “Boredom is good for your brain.” I say it anytime someone tells me that she’s bored, because it’s true. Boredom sparks creativity and passion. Let your kids be, even when they’re bored. Feel free to use my line, tell them that you know they’ll come up with something good to do, and let them do it.”
Vicki, founder of Honest Mum and author of Mum Boss
“Parents like myself have a challenging job right now, as we juggle homeschooling duties with work during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s crucial that parents make time for self-care so they can be strong and well for their families. This means taking some time off, eating well and exercising once a day (getting the heart rate up to burn off stress).
What you can do is head out once a day for exercise, kids in tow, wracking up a minimum of steps each time, following the social distancing rules. Use this time as an extra-curricular educational moment, exploring nature trails, logging birds, insects and flowers, using these findings during home-school activities, researching what you’ve discovered on your trips out, and illustrating the observations.
Another good activity is cooking as a family more at home. Parents tend to focus on baking with kids, but I’ve decided to teach my sons more about healthy snacks and main meals to help them slowly become more independent. You can do the same with more detailed chores. Give your kids more of a chance to skill up and learn about the daily chores of maintaining a home.”
There’s no right recipe for caring for your kids, and as such you should follow your instinct and listen to their needs and requests. Everyone is different, but we hope these other perspectives helped you out in understanding what others are also going through. Take it easy and stay safe!