Back in March, we all became much more than just parents overnight. We were multi-subject teachers, caretakers, chefs, friends, playmates, and more, all while still doing our jobs. It. Was. A. Lot. Then the coronavirus lockdown ended and we relaxed. For a little while anyway. Now that Lockdown restrictions are back in force (albeit without the necessary home-schooling), we’ve got to find ways to keep the kids occupied and entertained again.
To give you a helping hand, we’ve gathered five top tips and a few entertaining ideas for you to try…
Since the weather has taken a decidedly cooler turn and the classic British rain has made a return, a lot of outdoor activities aren’t suitable. After all, how many times can your kids go puddle jumping or how much gardening can you all do before the cold makes it unbearable? No, any life-skills learning will probably need to take place inside alongside your weekend activities. And here are five things to remember:
Top Tip #1 – Be kind and find ways for them to socialize
You’ve got to give yourself a break. You’re not a superhero and you only have so much time and energy, so don’t be afraid of letting them spend some time in front of the TV or playing Nintendo Switch Games. You could even set up online chats, a kids quiz, or some Zoom games for kids with their friends from school. Then, while they’re busy, take some time to decompress and breathe – it’s not good for your or your kid’s mental health and wellbeing to be stressed and worried.
Top Tip #2 – Keep a routine for focus and engagement
While you’re not home-schooling anymore, a routine is important for maintaining health, hygiene, and sleep. Your kids will be getting routine from school and their regular breaks and mealtimes, but you need to make sure you’re getting those things too. Even on the weekends it important not to throw everything out of sync.
Make sure you’re eating at similar times, that their bedtimes are all in line and that they’re getting enough exercise too. If something isn’t working, remember to look over the past few weeks and see what’s changed or what did work and adjust your routine to fit. For example, why not start your weekend with a nice family breakfast before everyone goes off and does something creative or artsy to get the fun juices flowing?
- Give them some instructions on Origami for kids – think fortune-tellers and hats.
- Get them some paint by numbers kits
- Grab the stamps and pencils and draw a fun picture
- Why not bake something together for pudding later on?
There are loads of things to be done and your kids can be as elaborate as they want – it’s a great way to start the day.
Top Tip #3 – Don’t stress about their education
Now they’re back in school, it’s not your job to educate them anymore (apart from in life skills). You’re back to being the support act, so don’t worry if they’re only having fun at home – they will be learning in their way too. When they read a book at home, they’re developing their English skills. When they play a tabletop game with the family, they’re learning communications and cooperation. When they bake with you, they’re learning to follow rules and all about patience. These child developmental skills are just as important as maths or science experiments (although you can do those at home too).
Top Tip #4 – Don’t forget about family time
Since you’re all stuck together at home, your personal time is important, but so is spending time together. Carve out a section of the time every week to do something as a family. Whether it’s a muddy walk outside, or a movie night, or even an indoor scavenger hunt, doing things together is vital for a calm and relaxed family home. Dr. Amanda Gummer, author of Play: Fun Ways To Help Your Child Develop In The First Five Years, says,
“You get to pass on shared values and opinions, and you get to have discussions about what’s going on in life, and children feel more valued, more heard, and they understand their parents more as well.”
Top Tip #5 – Stick to the structure
We’re not saying every day has the be the same, but give the week a bit of a structure so everyone knows what to expect. For instance, Friday night is game night and Wednesday night is storytime, Saturdays you exercise, and sofa Sunday’s must not be disturbed. Little things like this add gentle structure with the flexibility to experiment within those times which is important for child development.
So those are our top tips for staying sane and safe during the coronavirus lockdown with your kids. And, because we know you always need a back-up plan, here are a few other ways you can keep your kids entertained throughout lockdown:
- Make a den in the living room
- Play some multi-player console games
- Make up a show
- Make some music with kitchen tools
- Work out with Joe Wicks
There’s plenty of activities you can do together, or get them to do on their own to give you some ‘me-time’. So, don’t worry about going back to being teacher-of-all-extraordinaire, just get through it week-by-week with a little routine and some fun activities and the lockdown restrictions will be over before you know it.