With limited travel options over the summer and sweltering temperatures outside, the journey back to a regular routine still seems long. And as if classes and remote schooling didn’t create enough screen time, parents quarantining with kids still have to contend with extra hours on gaming consoles, Netflix and the omnipresent smartphone.
So, if you are getting frustrated with the situation, fear not! Below is a list of creative activities that can help keep your children gainfully occupied through the next few months.
Return to basic outdoor activities
Yes, we know it’s hot, but even in June the desert in late afternoons and early evenings can offer a few minutes of respite. Cycling and walking with the whole family, especially middle schoolers and older kids, is a good way to get some fresh air.
When that becomes exhausting, play an old-fashioned game of hopscotch or jump rope with your little ones. And it pays to remember that even the simple things can offer wholesome pleasure. For example, plugging a garden hose into a sprinkler can keep the little kids happy and entertained for hours. Get them lots of water guns and don’t be afraid of getting wet or dirty!
Old boardgames have found a resurgence through the pandemic. The classics like Scrabble, Boggle, backgammon, chess, checkers, Monopoly, Clue, Risk, Pictionary and Jenga, among others, are a great way to spend an evening away from screens. Keep score strictly and remember there’s nothing like a dose of healthy competition to get everyone revved up.
Putting colour to a blank canvas is a therapeutic process that can help release stress and anxiety. It also helps younger children express themselves when words are not enough. Invest in paints, colouring pencils, markers and crayons.
If your kids are not comfortable with carte blanche creativity, invest in a colouring book. You can paint by numbers, or within the lines. The process is supremely calming and there is great satisfaction in seeing an intricate design completed.
Equally, now is a perfect time to let the kids use all those old shoe cartons and Amazon delivery boxes to make creative projects. There are a lot of documented benefits of getting kids involved in tactile play. Get painting, cutting, slicing, and dicing to invent make-belief rocket ships and trains. It keeps the little kids especially involved for hours at a time.
In addition to enhancing fine motor skills and developing imagination, playing with playdough and slime also has a calming effect. Getting kids involved in building Lego models or taking on large puzzle projects improves visual spatial reasoning and memory function, in addition to teaching patience and perseverance.
Time for some DIY work
Since we are all at home for the next few months, it is a good idea to get the kids involved in do-it-yourself projects. If you’ve got older kids, let them paint over a shelf, assemble a desk or take apart an old lamp to refit.
What’s more, a quarantine summer is an ideal time to teach older kids how to embroider, knit and sew, even if they are old crafts that don’t have much traction. Get them looking at Etsy or Pinterest for ideas. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, get the kids involved in house organizing and cleaning. Let them help you freshen up walls with a new coat of paint. It’s an easy enough process and with a little bit of practice your kids will be as good at it as you!
Learn a life skill
If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, its this: life can change pretty quickly. Our kids are destined to leave the nest and grow up, so use this time wisely to help them build self-reliance. Teach them how to operate the washing machine, drier and dish washer. Let them iron laundry loads and get them cooking the basics. It might seem tiresome at first, but in delegating responsibility you help your kids understand accountability. They may complain at first, but persevere, they’ll thank you later.
Lastly, trust your instincts. As a parent you are in the best position to know your child. There isn’t a universal fix-it solution with guaranteed results. More than anything else, your love and affirmation will carry them through this time. Be strong and have faith, there are better times ahead.