As I am writing this, it is Monday, six o’clock sharp, and I am sitting on the edge of a bathtub, my feet firmly planted on the tiled floor. My two kids are still asleep in the room next to me, and I relish in the few minutes I have to myself before the day officially begins. I’m holding a double, no triple, espresso in my hand, half-dressed for a video conference call, and in about 5 minutes, my 11-month-old will wake up, followed by the 5-year-old. And the minute they do, I’ll have to come up with creative ways to entertain kids during this impromptu staycation.
On the off chance that the world was not swept up by the Covid-19 pandemic, this, with a few critical adjustments, would sound like my any other morning. In fact, if it was any other morning, I would be rushing around the house, dressing up in my work clothes, preparing lunchboxes for kids, regretting not having everything ready the night before.
The Playground Has Moved to Our Home
The truth is, ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus, we continued to rush, and chase one obligation after another without ever really leaving our homes. And let’s be honest, for adults staying at home and adjusting to the newfound situation is much easier than it is for our kids.
Kids are sensitive and very much attuned with our moods and feelings. Every time I am stressed and not my usual self around the kids they sense it and throw a tantrum. Just the other day, my 5-year-old interrupted a very important Zoom video conference by shooting the ball right into my head. It wasn’t funny.
So now that the playground has moved into our homes, how do we entertain our kids? Organize your household duties, your work, kid’s school, and free-time activities and stay positive and calm, the comforting parent they need. It seems almost impossible to handle, but take it one day at the time.
I am still discovering the best tactics on how to accomplish as many tasks as I can during the day. It’s a work in progress, but here’s a list of tips that worked with my kids. Let’s entertain our kids together and make the quarantine something that will be a happy memory for the kids.
Organize Their Day and Keep the Focus on Learning
Here’s the thing, regardless of whether your kids go to preschool or are now listening to their school curriculum online, it is vital they have an organized schedule.
If your child is a preschooler like mine, try to teach them a new song, colors, shapes, numbers, letters. Or maybe you can start learning a new language! It would be a perfect way to spend quality time together. There are a few very popular apps that can help you to discover a new language with your kids.
The good news during this staycation is that some of the teaching materials, magazines, and cartoons are now free. TIME for Kids has launched a free digital library that families, teachers, and students can use while they are homeschooling during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you need help with motivating your kids to learn, check this article – it might help you out!
Time for a confession: I’ve got weekdays under control. While I work, I assign each of them a task to do or something new to learn. Then every twenty minutes I check-in and give them new assignments. So far, we are playing ‘going to work with mom’, and it’s working miraculously. But it’s the weekends that seek the most of my attention and energy. So I came up with a different strategy.
The Three of Us are Staying Active
It is stressful and hurtful to organize a football match in your living room. That’s the fact. But your kids crave physical activities. With parks closed, there is a limited space for them to jump, run and get all that accumulated energy out. Here are some ideas that kept my kids active.
Going to the gym was my daily routine. Not moving around as much as I am used to, was hard for me to accept. But in order to make the quarantine acceptable and fun for kids and me, I decided to have a fitness class with extra help from YouTube. So now, we are having a great time jumping, stretching, doing all kinds of exercises together, and of course, goofing around at the end of the class.
Another way of making your children stay physically active is to organize an obstacle course game. Get creative and design all kinds of station concepts and layouts. You can also look around your house for everyday items you might be able to use like blankets, sofa pillows, a broom, etc. This is a great opportunity for you and your child to put your creative minds to work. When you create an obstacle course, keep in mind the ages, abilities, and number of children involved as well as the space you have.
Entertain Kids by Playing Little Chefs
A part of our everyday routine is preparing at least three meals. At first, it might be stressful, but this can be one more family activity and an opportunity to involve your kids.
I usually ask my kids to help me prepare lunch or dinner. First, we talk about the meal we are about to cook. Yesterday they helped me cook the mushroom cream soup. We discussed the differences between the thin soup and the cream one. Then we prep all the ingredients. I peel an extra carrot and give them as a snack. They poured water in the electric pressure cooker and discussed which program from the menu would be the most suitable one for our soup. When they heard the whistle sound on the cooker, they asked what was happening to their precious soup.
I went on to explain the process of cooking. They were amazed, and ate their soup proudly.
Make Home Experiments with Your Kids
Just like cooking, introducing home experiments can be fun and useful.
You can always improvise colorful lava by mixing a dish liquid detergent, vinegar, baking powder and food colors. Useful tip – use a small glass or you will run out of the ingredients very fast.
If you have a preschooler, they will be thrilled to watch how the water you’ve placed in the freezer turns to ice. You can always Google for more ideas about home experiments.
These physics experiments for kids are perfect for learning about how the world works in a fun and hands-on way. Introducing physics to preschoolers in this way, will help them view science as something exciting to learn about throughout their schooling years.
Entertain Kids with Video playdate
Probably the hardest part of a staycation is not being with family and friends. Your children will miss their friends from school, their neighbours, grandparents.
I try to make this part of quarantine easier for kids by doing video chatting. My older son, who is fascinated by elevators, likes making calls just before we go to sleep, so he can show his grandma the progress he made on the new elevator project we work on every day. Just the other day, the younger one proudly showed his first tooth to his video audience.
But here’s what’s tough – your kid’s birthday. Imagine the face of your kid when you tell him that his family and friend will not sing him a birthday song while he blows the candle on the birthday cake. I approached this very delicate situation with the platform we all know well by now. I’ll call it the magnificent Zoom. Overnight, Zoom has become a primary social platform for millions of people, enabling multiple people to video chat at the same time.
Virtual communication is helpful so your kids don’t feel totally isolated from the rest of the world.
Stay Home and Stay Safe, Have Some Fun and Entertain Kids
I can hear my youngest kid waking up and asking for me. That’s it, my day has officially began. I know that this is not something any of us could’ve predicted (except for maybe Stephen King, Hugh Howey and Colson Whitehead), but it’s important to keep in mind that all this will soon be behind us. In the meantime, let’s try to organize our day, our staycation life in a way so our kids can remember this time as something good, like the time when the family gathers to make life good, to make some great memories, to laugh, and love.
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
We seek to provide answers to your most pressing questions about keeping your kids safe online, introducing them to the digital world, and helping them be their authentic selves online.
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