Whether it’s out of precaution or requirement, keeping kids active and mentally engaged at home can be a full-time job. It is important to encourage them to use their imagination; left to their own devices, kids can come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to keep themselves entertained. If you need a little assistance, we’ve put together a list to help you get them started:
1. Get artistic
Now’s the time to dig out the paints and pencils that you’ve held onto for a rainy day. If they’re stuck for ideas, suggest making birthday cards or drawing a picture to post to family or friends in isolation or interstate, or better still for a special person at your local nursing home.
If you have a blackboard or whiteboard for lists of jobs and timetables at home, take a pic of your to-do list, wipe it down and then hand it over for games like Hangman, Pictionary and Noughts-and-Crosses.
2. Let loose in the kitchen
With time on your side, it’s the perfect opportunity to get the kids into the kitchen. Kidspot has some great kid-friendly recipes; look for ones with simple ingredient lists that don’t require a supermarket visit.
3. Build a cubby house inside
Kids of all ages will revel in the idea that you’ve given them free reign to rearrange the cushions, rugs and chairs. If you’re delaying pleas for Netflix, task them with building a cubby house and making lunch, then they can sit back and enjoy a movie in their new custom-built home cinema.
4. Read books and play board games
It might be old school but it’s time to drag out the big guns. Once your kids have exhausted their stash, with libraries being closed, reach out to your network and get swapping, even if you need to just leave them on each other’s doorstep.
Remember the fun you had with games like Snakes and Ladders or Pick Up Stix; these games and more are still available for purchase and can even be delivered.
5. Take things outside
Your kids might be in isolation, but that doesn’t limit them to inside. Dust off the backyard cricket set, set up the trampoline and once they’ve exhausted all the traditional games, encourage them to create new games – anyone for a game of cricket with a beach ball?!
Getting regular exposure to sunshine will ensure you and your family continue to maintain enough Vitamin D, beneficial for normal growth and a healthy immune system. It will also help keep their body clock’s regular to avoid the “but I’m not tired yet,” arguments at bedtime. Just make sure to be SunSmart if outside in the middle of the day or for extended periods.
6. Take advantage of technology and Facetime
At a time where we need each other more than ever, we know that for the health of our wider community we need to keep our distance. If you can’t visit grandparents or friends, try using Facetime to stay in touch. Sometimes kids can get stuck for conversation so suggest they read a book with whomever they are Facetiming. Set aside a regular time to read a few pages.
7. Spring clean
The kids might not be so excited about this one, but extra time at home is an opportunity to sort out clothes and toys. Anything they’ve outgrown or surpassed in development that can benefit others can be donated when safe to do so. This can also lead to a positive conversation about helping those around you.
Enjoy the downtime
Don’t feel bad if they end up watching screens or playing games for part of the day. Planning activities is a great way to break up the day and limit the amount of time spent on the couch. Set a positive example by limiting the number of times you pick up your phone and keep technology away during meals. Limit the amount of time spent on tablets, TVs and phones depending on their age, and put them away in the evening as the blue light may disrupt their sleep quality.
Remember each child and family are different so what will keep one busy for hours might not interest another for a moment. Most importantly, relax and make the most of the extra time together, they will be grown up before you know it!