With the recent closure of schools and daycares across North America, parents have been faced with the task of entertaining their kids at home for the next few weeks (at least). Listen mamas, the reality of all of this is that it's going to be hard, it's going to be boring, and we're all going to go a little bit stir crazy. It's a completely necessary measure and it's our responsibility to take it seriously and stop the spread of this pandemic. But, that doesn't change the fact that everyone's kids are home and they're ALL asking the same question: What are we going to do today?
My best friend is an elementary school teacher, and when I wrote her in an absolute panic about being stuck in the house with my two little children for 3 weeks straight, her response made me stop and think about the situation in a whole new way. "Listen, this is going to be really stressful for you, but ultimately your kids are going to have fond memories of these 3 weeks at home with their mom and dad for the rest of their lives!"
She's so right. My kids aren't going to remember the chaos and stress surrounding all of this. They're going to remember the fort building, the dance parties and the cuddly movie nights. There's no denying that I have a challenging few weeks ahead of me, but I know that by creating a little bit of structure to our days and finding new and unusual activities for my kids, we'll be able to get through it!
So, I've spent the last few days rounding up every resource and idea I could find for parents of school-aged children. Need some inspiration? Read on!
Activities you can do with them:
Have a monkey-see-monkey-do dance party! Each person picks a song and chooses the dance moves while everyone copies them.
Bake or cook: Choose a kid-friendly recipe and work together to complete it, beginning to end. (Don't worry about the mess!)
Explore a museum or gallery from the comfort of your own home! Broadcast one of these amazing virtual tours that are available onto your TV and enjoy it as a family.
Host a laundry folding session and have each member of the family fold their clothes and then put them away.
Go on a scavenger hunt walk. Give each child a list of items them need to find and a marker to check them off as they do. It gives purpose to going on a walk so that they don't get bored as quickly.
Open an at-home spa for every member of the family to enjoy. Make face masks, paint nails and take turns receiving massages!
Create a maze on the floor with painters's tape.
Have family movie nights. Build a fort for cuddling in and let everyone watch in their PJs with a big bowl of popcorn.
Organize and clean those areas of the house you can never get to. Involve your kids by assigning them a part of the task they can handle (taking everything out of a closet, for example).
Paint still life pictures. Set up an object and sit together as a family to paint it with watercolors or pastels. Each person paints their own interpretation and then gets a chance to present it to the group at the end.
Put on a yoga class on the TV and have everyone participate.
Practice your accents: There are lots of different accent videos on YouTube and you're sure to all laugh at the silliness while you try to master one.
Pull out every family-friendly board game you own. Now's the time to sit down and try them all!
If it's nice outside, get out and do a little family gardening. Raking, planting and watering is easy enough for any age and sure to keep kids happy and occupied for at least a little while.
Activities they can do by themselves:
Draw a huge mural picture. Roll out a huge piece of paper and tape it to the floor. Give your kids markers or crayons and let them go to town. They can even trace each other and draw scenes around it.
Download the DuoLingo app on your tablet, computer or phones and have your child complete a full language course in French or Spanish (it's good for ages 4+ and super easy for any child to follow).
If your child is a little older, use Scratch and have them learn to code their own game.
Have your kids put on a play. Give them the assignment of creating their characters and a story, putting together costumes and rehearsing. Once they're done, they can perform the entire thing for you.
Have 1 hour of mandatory "quiet time". Everyone can choose to read quietly in bed, have a nap or lay down and listen to soft, relaxing music.
Let them enjoy story time with celebrities: Storyline Online has tons of videos of awesome books being read by all your favourite stars.
If they're old enough to eat unassisted, send them out to the backyard with a picnic lunch. Pack up everything they'll need and let them set themselves up and enjoy the independence.
Have a letter of the day and every morning, announce what it is. Then, when you need some time to yourself, pull out a stack of old magazines and have your kids cut out every picture they find that starts with that letter.