As COVID-19 has slowly stretched its strangling hand across the globe, schools have been shut down everywhere to keep children from spreading the sickness. Kids are returning home by the millions. Parents are scrambling to find the best way to manage their kids being stuck in their houses for weeks, and even months. The fact that playdates and social gatherings are off-limits due to the spread of sickness can make things feel even worse.
If you can relate, the good news is you’re not alone and there’s a silver lining to all of this. After all, the increase in family time that lies ahead has the potential to be a positive experience, as long as you go about things with the right attitude.
Things You Can Do With Your Children During a School Closure
With that said, here are some of the best ways to engage children during a school closure in order to help everyone remain happy, healthy, and occupied.
Turn off the Electronics Sometimes
It’s worth starting with a “less is more” idea. If you want to establish harmony and peace at home during the crisis, it’s important to avoid the temptation to let electronics rule every waking moment of your perpetually indoor life. If you find:
- the television is on all day
- you’re constantly hunched over your phone
- the kids won’t stop using their tablets
- everyone in your home is soaking in blue light from dawn till dusk
It’s time to shake things up.
Electronics are a wonderful tool in the modern parent’s toolkit, but that doesn’t mean they have infinite value. In fact, any seasoned parent can tell you overexposure to television and video games causes children to act out.
As you look for ways to do things together as a family, the first thing you should do is detach from those electronics for part of each day in order to allow for a chance to spend quality time together. You might even want to consider doing an electronics-free day each week.
Make Dinner Together
One of the best ways to bond as a family is over the dinner table — and we’re not just talking about eating. While eating meals together as a family unit is certainly a good starting point, why not take things to the next level and prepare an entire meal together?
With nothing but time on your hands, meal prep can be a great way to feed yourselves and bond as a family at the same time. You can even use the occasion to teach your children some nifty home economics skills, from sanitizing your food prep station to seasoning and cutting foods and following recipes.
Play Games as a Family
There are so many family-focused games for all ages that you can always find something to do together. If you have older kids, pick up a copy of Settlers of Catan or dust off that copy of Monopoly sitting in the basement. Have younger kids, try Apples to Apples Jr.
If board games aren’t your thing, you can look for family-friendly apps on your phone, such as charades, or even pull out a pen and paper and try a round of Balderdash. Whatever your family’s passions and interests, you should be able to find a game to keep everyone engaged and enjoying themselves.
Communication can be difficult when everyone is out and about all of the time. Take advantage of your forced hiatus to open up a dialogue and practice active listening with your kids.
Ask for their opinion on things, spark light and fun conversation, and don’t be afraid to dive into deeper discussions as well. You can also use the pandemic itself as a teaching tool. Discuss hand washing versus hand sanitizers, vaccines, and government oversight in times of crisis. It’ll help your children better understand things as they watch the world’s response to a genuine threat.
Go for a Hike
If you live in an area where you have access to the spacious outdoors, it may be a good idea to go for a walk as a family.
As long as you’re able to maintain social distancing, taking a walk in a park or hitting up a local hiking trail can be a great way to help your family get out some of that excess energy together.
Set Up Your Home for Quarantine Success
Finally, remember that whether you’re playing games, making a meal, or just sitting and talking, it’s important to keep your living space clean and functional on a daily basis.
With that in mind, make sure to encourage everyone to clean up after themselves and to set up dedicated spaces for recreation, sleeping, and even school. Establish as much structure as possible to help you to collectively maintain your sanity.
If you can be proactive in your family’s activities, you’ll be able to stay busy, healthy, and happy while you’re all cooped up at home trying to avoid those fevers and coughs and waiting for life to return to normal.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can check out more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek