“Finding fun activities to keep your kids busy and happy, so you can work in peace, is a mighty parenting task.”
With the shutdown of schools around the world, children have grown accustomed to “remote learning.” Similarly, parents have become used to working from home while struggling to find a work-life balance.
It has been a frustration for parents who seem to have run out of activities to do with their adrenaline-charged kids.
A survey, conducted by Catalyst in collaboration with CNBC, revealed parents have been suffering from stress because of failing to perform work and familial duties.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected their daily routines, causing a significant upheaval in their lives.
Several companies have also cut down salaries adding to the list of problems faced by working people.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children find a balance between screen time and other activities. (Source: Finding Ways to Keep Children Occupied During These Challenging Times).
So, take a look at this helpful list of activities to keep your kids engaged and entertained while you work from home.
1. Maintain The Normalcy
Keeping in mind the uncertainty of the situation, parents may find it challenging to pretend everything is normal. Still, following the same-old schedule could prove useful in guarding children against mental stress.
Try to stick to the timetable your kids were used to. Ensure they follow a proper sleeping and waking routine that includes regular meal times so the kids have some normalcy to count on.
While, sometimes, change can be vital, it is helpful to have a routine. Children feel much more comfortable when they have a clock to live by. Of course, you could introduce fresh activities every day, but ensure the overall routine remains predictable for your child.
According to research, such a predictable, positive environment can be beneficial for the social and emotional well-being and development of children. It can also help them behave appropriately and exhibit less challenging behavior.
Also, if children keep up with the schedule, their focus on specific tasks will be more effortless, and they may even look forward to the activities of the following day. Whereas they are happy-busy, you will get plenty of time at hand to focus on work.
2. Let Creativity Thrive
Keep some time aside for creative activities. During this time, you and your kids can paint, read books, solve puzzles, or indulge in some engaging do-it-yourself projects. You don’t need a dozen supplies for this, just a handful of sheets, paint, and other necessary items that you have lying around.
Remember to make use of things that you already have in the house. It would teach your kids to make better use of the materials at hand.
A best-out-of-waste project is an ideal challenge to get your kids started. Give your kids waste materials they can use to create an art project. These materials can include ice-cream sticks, old magazines or comic books, juice boxes, plastic bottles, etc.
Another activity that you could try is journaling or story-writing. Channel the inner creativity of your child and help them get the hang of writing. Try to turn activities into learning opportunities for your child.
There are free online journal apps on which kids can write stories, create blogs, scrapbooks, and biographies. They can also use them as an online diary, writing about anything that comes to their mind. Besides, it would also save paper.
3. Spend Some Time Outdoors
Both you and your kids may need some fresh air, so the best way to do so is to head out. Hiking, biking, trekking, boating, or bird watching are some recreations that families love.
Plan the outing so that you don’t end up in a crowded place. Don’t forget to follow safety measures and wear a mask.
You can head to a farm and go berry-picking on weekends or tend to the plants in your garden. Kids can play some outdoor games such as hide-and-seek and badminton to make the most of their time. Parents can bring their laptops along and enjoy the scenery as they work. Win-win!
Try your best to plan the activities for the following day beforehand.
Younger children have a shorter attention span than adolescents. Therefore, you may need to prepare several activities accordingly. Likewise, teens may need a distinct set of activities.
If it’s not possible for you to step out, you can bring out those board games. Try to find educational games and puzzles which can impart crucial knowledge while the kids have some fun.
You can fill the backyard with amazing insects, birds, and foliage. It can be an adventure to head to the backyard and find unusual things that you haven’t seen before. Take your kids to the backyard and find caterpillars, bugs, or leaves and try to find out which species or varieties they belong to.
4. Pick Up A New Hobby
This is a suitable time for your children to pick up a new hobby. The choices are endless – they can try origami, paper mache, sewing, knitting, painting, skateboarding, pottery, scrapbooking, etc. Help them try something low-priced and unique.
This way, even if they don’t enjoy it, you would not have a hole in your wallet. You can even do some of these activities with materials that you can find at home. For instance, you can make DIY paper clay at home.
If money is not an issue, they can try something more high-end such as candle-making, resin art, woodwork. Once they’ve perfected the craft, kids can even take this a step further by setting up their online store or sell their handmade items to locals.
5. Solve A Puzzle
Puzzles, especially the ones with hundreds of pieces, can provide hours of entertainment to children. Make sure that your kids are old enough to recognize puzzle pieces and not put them in their mouths or ingest them.
If you don’t have puzzles at hand, you can make them on your own. Make a simple drawing of trees or flowers or scenery and use your handy scissors to cut the drawing into 6-7 pieces. Give the puzzle to your kids and allow them to put the pieces together and find the complete drawing.
6. Get Some Chores Done
If you want your kids to learn essential skills, assign them a chore. You can have them water the plants or look after the pets. Make sure that the job is tricky and keep them engaged while you work.
Bring your kids into the kitchen and teach them simple recipes such as three-ingredient cookies or healthy desserts. Keep an eye on them, though.
You can teach them how to make meals that don’t require a stove. For instance, a coleslaw sandwich or a salad. It would help them become independent at a young age. While you’re at it, teach them the importance of maintaining hygiene while cooking and cleaning.
7. Beat The Heat
Blow up a children’s inflatable pool, add some water and some bubbly wash and dump your kid’s toys in the pool. Help your kids soak and clean them as they enjoy a mini pool party outdoors. If you have a pet such as a cat or a rabbit, you can ask your kids to give them a nice bath.
If the pool party doesn’t seem exciting, or if you don’t have an inflatable pool, you can try hosting a mini-picnic in the backyard. You can make homemade yogurt, ice cream, mango, banana or chocolate milkshakes, sandwiches and so much more. Frozen fruits and popsicles are also yummy snacks that they can devour on a sunny day. Bring out your picnic hats, spread a mat, and enjoy the delicious snacks that you have prepared.
8. Sort The Wardrobe
Ask your kids to empty their entire wardrobe onto the floor and pick out the clothes that no longer fit them or the ones that fell out of their liking. You could make a donation box and toss in toys and clothes for sending to orphanages or giving away to the poor.
You could do the same with their toys. This would help them get some extra space in their wardrobe for brand new things and also keep them entertained for some time.
9. Lemonade Stand
To make summer even more exciting, kids can set up a lemonade stand outdoors and sell lemonade to the neighbors. This can help kids understand the importance of money and also help them learn how to take initiative. A lemonade stand doesn’t need to be extravagant. You can help your kids make some lemonade at home. For different flavors, you can add rose syrup, crushed strawberries, or crushed watermelon.
The stand itself can be made by stacking cardboard boxes together or simply by taking a movable table outdoors. Lay a piece of white fabric onto the table and Ta-da! Your stand is ready. The experience can be even more rewarding by donating the earnings to charities or by offering free lemonade instead of charging for it.
If you’re struggling to keep the kids busy, these activities might come in handy. The COVID-19 pandemic has been harsh on everyone, even our little ones. The line between your personal and professional life may have become blurred, but you can still make things work. Try to get the most out of this opportunity to bond with your children and help them learn and grow. Before you know it, they’ll learn how to keep themselves busy.
Don’t forget to spend some quality time with your partner as well, and always pat yourselves on the back for holding up through these days. Although it may seem like a distant dream at present, eventually everything will be okay.
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Author Bio: Musa Mawanda, Ph.D. is a Founder and CEO of Lugelo, Inc., a mobile and web app for private journals, scrapbooks, biographies, and storybooks. Musa aims to present new approaches to education by intelligent use of technology and innovation. He has been a guest speaker at universities.
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