Amidst all of the fear, worry and “not knowing” about what is really happening in the world, add in the worry about being home for several weeks with kids home from school. Want to know how to keep kids busy during the Coronavirus pandemic? How are you going to keep them occupied, keep them learning and keep your sanity? Remember, the kids will be whiney, weepy and as frustrated as you.
It won’t be easy, but there are solutions. First, take the time to look at the “silver lining.” You GET to spend more time with your kids. We will all likely look back on this as a ‘fond’ memory from the standpoint of how we had to care for our families, protect them and bond with them.
Second, take some time to remind yourself to be “aware” of how you are responding, what is happening in your body and your what are your physical responses to the stress. Take deep breaths and remind yourself to stay calm, as hard as it is.
Third, arm yourself with a list of things to keep the kids occupied. Rest assured there will be time for movies, screen time and naps! They will be long days, but you can do it and feel good about being the parent or caregiver that is helping those kids cope with this scary situation.
How to keep kids busy during the Coronavirus pandemic. When I was a kid, there was no internet, no Netflix, little cable television and no cell phones. (Yes, I’m THAT old!) What in the heck did we do with ourselves to stay busy, engaged and learning? Here is my Top 10 of some of the “old-timey” activities that shaped my young life, and that I now look back on with those fond memories.
SUE’S TOP 10 “OLD-TIMEY” ACTIVITIES
(How to keep kids busy during the Coronavirus pandemic)
- Blanket and Pillow Forts – My sister and I would drag out every single blanket and pillow we could find and proceed to drape the blankets over couches, chairs and other furniture. We carefully planned out how it would happen and we worked together to create a little oasis under those blankets where we could escape from “the real world” and our parents.
- Project Box – My mom always had a box filled with little items for use to make craft projects out of. Construction paper, glue, glitter, tape, google eyes, toothpicks, twist ties, foil, markers, scissors, buttons, you name it. She was constantly tossing stuff into that box. When we were stuck indoors, she brought out the Project Box and let us dig in. We would spend hours creating our masterpieces. It is one of my best memories of being a kid.
- Look at Old Photos – Our family had boxes and boxes of photos and albums. We could literally sit for hours looking at those pictures. We asked mom who certain people were and she would tell us the stories about the pictures and the people and places in them. You may not have printed photos, but I am sure you have THOUSANDS of digital photos that could be looked at. We learned a lot about our family and the stories that made them who they are. I’m pretty sure my mom enjoyed this just as much as we did, maybe even more!
- Look at Old Videos & Home Movies – My uncle had tons of “home movies” on reel to reel that we used to watch and laugh about. These days, you can likely find videos you’re your old video recorders and smart phones. When was the last time you watched the video of your child’s first steps? Watch it with your child and they will crack up at being that little.
- Board Games – We would play Mouse Trap, Pick Up Sticks, Don’t Break The Ice, Life, Sorry, Tripoly, Battleship, Operation, Life, Yahtzee, Boggle, Risk, Backgammon, Checkers, Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, Connect 4, Stratego, and Twister. Feeling nostalgic? Don’t forget puzzles and regular card games. Most of these games are great for the brain! They require careful thought, planning, strategy, luck and learning how to be a good winner and a good loser. They can also teach rooting for others when they aren’t doing well and when your opponent(s) IS(ARE) doing well. What amazing skills to learn and take out into the world!
- Scavenger Hunts – My mom is amazing at this! She still, to this day, puts together scavenger hunts for my (now adult) children for every single holiday. They still look forward to it and it is something special that they will ALWAYS remember about their grandmother. The kids would have to work together to figure out the clues to get to the next clues and finally to the jackpot, where each of them would have a little special something waiting for them. If you have older children and younger children, have your older ones help you with the scavenger hunts for the littles. Then you can concentrate on a “harder” version for the teens.
- Baking – We were allowed to bake cookies, cupcakes, pies, nut breads and more with little supervision. Sure, we botched several recipes by not paying attention, but that is how we learned. Heck, who hasn’t forgotten to put sugar into the pie filling at least once in their life!? My mother would share her handed down family recipes and tell us stories about when she made those special treats with her mom and grandmother. You can use this baking time to teach a bit of math. How about doubling or halving the recipe? Oooh…fractions!
- Play “Office” – My best friend and I used to play “office” when we were bored. My mom gave us rubber stampers, hole punchers, old checks, labels, folders, old calendars, highlighters, Inbox bins, Post It notes, etc. We would set up our office desks on the coffee table and make official folders that were color coded. We would use the stamper to “approve” our paperwork and put it into the Inbox for “processing.” We had to use our imagination about how all of this would work and what we were selling/in business for. We made fake phone calls, asked our parent’s for signatures on our “contracts” and put Post It notes on everything!
- Salt Dough Ornaments – We did this regularly throughout the year when we were bored. There is a simple recipe for salt dough to make at home. Kids can use cookie cutters, make their own shapes and designs and then you can bake them on a cookie sheet. After that, they can be painted with lots of fun colors and glitter! If you put a metal hook into them before baking, or a hole to string a ribbon, it will become an ornament to use on a holiday tree or anywhere you’d like to hang some fun! Here is how to make them: https://wholefully.com/make-salt-dough-ornaments/
- Go Outside! – It’s a great time to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Head out to the local park or just around your neighborhood for a nature walk. Have the kids take a handle back along so that they can collect leaves, sticks, stones, flowers and other treasures to bring home. Once you are back at home, you can use those treasures to make collages, do rubbings and even look up information about identifying certain leaves or flowers. I was lucky enough to live in the country and spent countless hours outside making mud pies. Nothing wrong with getting dirty! My mom once gave me one of her metal pans that had been burnt beyond use…so she thought. I used it to mix my gourmet mud pies and the scrubbing effect of the mud took off whatever was left burnt on the bottom. It was good as new! I was a hero! She would give me old, disposable pie tins and disposable aluminum pans to “bake” in. I added “spices” such as pine needles and pieces of grass. I would decorate the tops of the pies with flowers and leaves. This was so much fun!
I know those were different times and these things may or may not work for you and your kids, but try to think back about your own childhood and grab onto those things that helped shape who you are, your creativity and learning opportunities that you didn’t realize you were learning at the time. And then share them with your kids.
Your kids will truly treasure these times one day down the road. Just keep your cool, take deep breaths, try to smile and lastly, wash your hands.
I’ll have more suggestions and links in my next blog! If you’ve got suggestions, please send me a note! Contact Sue