With many families spending most of their time at home due to social distancing, cabin fever is inevitable. If you are at a loss for ideas about how to keep the family occupied during these unprecedented times, you’re not alone, judging by the uptick in internet users searching for ways to keep kids entertained. As a parenting expert with plenty of first-hand experience, I’m sharing some tips for helping everyone get this very important task done while – yes, if you can believe it – having some family fun along the way.
Create Fun Work Stations
For most of us, working and learning from home is a jarring departure from the usual routine. To avoid feeling cramped around the kitchen table, carve out space and create new areas for each member of the family to do their daily tasks.
Look for ways to make each child’s space their own with fun pens, bluetooth-enabled speakers (or for quiet time, headphones), sticker-covered desk pads or even DIY name plates with some clever made-up titles like “Director of the Third Grade” or “Chief Executive Student.”
For younger kids, have a few sensory desk toys available to minimize distractions during those online learning programs: homemade play dough, colored pencils and doodle pad or anything to keep bored fingers busy while your students are engaged in online listening and learning.
Make Mealtime Educational
Remember Life Skills class? Well, when we’re all home all day, we’ve gotta eat, and with most people limiting trips to grocery stores or take-out restaurants, Home Chef meal kits make dinner fun for the entire family.
In our house, we love how every kit includes fresh pre-portioned ingredients in exactly the quantity you need, so there’s less waste. The classic recipes feature a variety of cooking techniques ranging from easy to expert along with step-by-step instructions, which are perfect for beginner cooks and kids alike. It’s a great opportunity to show kids that cooking can be fun while teaching them some pretty valuable kitchen skills along the way. For example, younger kids can learn how to stir and measure, while older ones can practice their knife skills and using the stove and oven safely.
Declare It Family Game or Talent Night
After dinner, put the devices away and make it a family game night! Pop some popcorn and pull out fun participation games like Cranium or Apples To Apples and get a little friendly competition – and some laughs – going. If your family is craving a quieter night, opt for a large jigsaw puzzle or a classic card game.
For younger kids, don’t be afraid to get creative with things you already have around the house. The little ones will love making sock puppets and putting on a puppet show for the whole family, while big kids might like Freeze Dance or doing some karaoke with easy-to-find sing-alongs on YouTube. Either way, there’s nothing like a captive audience to show off everyone’s talents!
Turn Up The Night With A Camp Out
The fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down – in fact, no morning commutes can allow for relaxed schedules and a not-so-strict bedtime. Let the kids pull out the sleeping bags, or even the mattresses off their beds (in our family we call it going to the mattresses) and camp out together in the family room.
Kids can make DIY lanterns with mason jars and glow sticks. Telling ghost stories and roasting marshmallows by the fireplace (or outside if you have a fire pit or grill) will feel like a treat and make for happy family memories during an otherwise stressful time.
Don’t Forget The Teens!
Teenagers are especially prone to boredom when they can’t see their friends, so look for ways to keep them entertained. There’s tons of challenges on social media right now (especially on TikTok), from silly group dances to dressing up in creative outfits. Offer to participate in challenges with them, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself – who knows, you might even go viral!
I also like the idea of creating a home gym to give the whole family a dedicated space to jump rope off some steam or dance the blues away to one of hundreds of free aerobic workouts available on YouTube. Finally, if local social distancing orders permit, you can also find creative ways for them to see their friends, such as a bike ride (six feet apart, of course) or driveway meetups for lunch in their cars.
Although we can all agree these are difficult times we’re living in, staying put at home doesn’t have to be a bore. With a little creativity there are plenty of ways to have fun and make family memories – all without leaving the house.