If your kids are anywhere between 1-10 years old, you may find that when your kids are home it’s hard to come up with some fun things to do in the heat of the moment! Especially when your world is in lockdown or a stay at home order!
Rest assured, with some creativity it’s easy to come up with things to engage your kids and keep them off their screens!! Here are some ways we cope with having the kids home:
First of all, limit screen time!
My husband and I have always been very strict when it comes to screen time. We try to maintain only one hour per day when the kids are home. (Call us crazy, but keeping to this actually makes our day WAY better!) We may also have an evening movie which would be extra. But if they are watching YouTube, or playing games, it’s an hour! The kids are so used to it, they have Alexa set a timer for them! We find that if our kids get too much screen time, they become rude, expectant, and have meltdowns that are way harder to manage! It’s just not worth it!!
Get some activity kits.
You don’t need to spend a fortune, but it is nice and easy just to hand the kids a prepackaged activity kit or craft kit that they can either do themselves or with help. It helps to take up a bit of time, sometimes the days seem WAY too long! If you need to help your kids with it, give it to them while you sip your coffee (that way you can actually enjoy your, dare I even say HOT, coffee!!! If it’s something that the kids can do themselves, give it to them when you need a break, or when you have to do something else like prep a meal. Use it to your advantage! Afterall, that is why you bought it!!
Plan a couple of really fun activities.
Take a bit of time one evening looking at the internet or Pinterest for a few really fun activities. Look for things that would be of particular interest for your kids. Look up something for inside and something for outside. If I have a week home with the kids, I will usually look up two things to do outside (and prep or print off anything I need for the activity) and two things to do inside (sometimes the rainy days drag on and on…and on!!!). Better yet, have your kids involved in creating their own fun! Get them involved in the prep work for activities! It may help them appreciate that they can’t just say they want to do something, and do it right away!
The outside activities can be something as simple as a scavenger hunt; write out a list of things you typically find outside add a check box, then depending on the age of the kids they can go on a scavenger hike or bike ride to find everything. The great thing about an activity like this is that you can tailor it to any age group. Make it super challenging for your tweens by adding specific types of leaves, or even recycling items. For younger kids, you can even print a small picture of the item. Other simple outdoor ideas could be digging in the garden looking for insects, using chalk (if your kids are older draw out playground games like foursquare or hopscotch. If your kids are learning words, write three letter words for them to sound out. Use a circle around each letter and they can hop as they sound it out. One thing I am working towards for our backyard is some DIY climbing/monkey bar activities and a climbing rope. The kids are very excited. I will make a post about it once we get it more underway…
For indoors activities, the kids have been making their own Nerf gun targets for the basement. Have a google device? Echo? Apple? Try listening to kids pod casts or try other skills on your device. Chances are there are some fun games like freeze dance, or recited stories, even trivia games! Other great indoor activities include drawing feet on many pieces of paper then arrange them so the kids have to hop from paper to paper lining up their feet with the drawing. Doing crafts is also a great time killer; think friendship bracelets, colouring, cutting up papers, creating things out of recycling, even playdough or sculpture putty are great for any age!
It could even be planned outings or day trips. Drive to a park that the kids haven’t been to yet, or drive to a nearby beach, go to a local zoo. Have a DVD player in your car? Why not pack up a bunch of snacks and have a movie in the car in the driveway!
The key really is not to stress yourself about thinking of many things to do. I find it easier to add in a lot of time for the kids to transition from things, or even let them be bored for a bit. It’s amazing what they can come up with on their own. You can plan as many activities as you want, but when I plan too many things to do, we are all just tired!
Get your kids involved with keeping the house tidy! Have them help clean, or even declutter!! Give them a bunch of their own artwork and ask them to sort it and toss it. It’s great to teach them that even though you took the time to create something, you don’t have to keep it all! You can be proud of it and still toss it. Think about the chores based on age of the kids so that you can keep it light and maybe even fun! I know my kids love to put toilet paper in each of the washrooms, or using wipes to wipe down cupboard faces or door knobs. There are so many things that need to happen around any house, there are plenty of easy to more challenging chores that can be done by kids of any age!
Dig out the old Monopoly box, or a deck of cards. Get the kids playing a game together or get the whole family on “board”, ha, get it?? Anyway, there are so many great games out there for ANY age!!
All of these same ideas are great for the summer too! I usually try to only think of one fun thing for outside and one for inside per week over the summer because my kids kill sooo much time just sitting outside or playing in the sandbox. We are lucky to have a pool which is also a great time killer!
I hope some of these ideas help to make your time with your kids more enjoyable! Life seems better when you can enjoy the time, rather than everyone fighting!!