Cabin fever can be difficult to deal with by itself, but with children home from school due to the pandemic, boredom can become a lingering nuisance. Here are 10 family-friendly activities parents can do with their children to combat that cooped-up feeling.
Make a scribble picture
If you have young ones at home, then this option may be perfect for spending a peaceful hour together. Scribble pictures are simple, easy, do-it-yourself art projects that can help foster creativity in children and, perhaps, bring the child out in you. Plain (non-lined) paper, a pencil or pen, and crayons or colored pencils are all that’s needed to bring this project to fruition. Draw lines across the paper at random intersecting angles until eventually the entire paper has small shapes formed by the crisscrossing lines. Next, fill in the shapes with whatever color your heart desires – and voila! The result should look like a stained-glass mural. There’s no wrong drawing here, and creativity rules above all else.
Tackle a challenging puzzle together
This activity can satisfy the desire for a challenge in multiple age groups, depending on the difficulty of the puzzle. The older children are, the more pieces the puzzle should have. There are particularly aesthetically pleasing puzzles (like landscapes) that, when assembled, can be glued together and framed for a nice wall decoration that also boasts achievement.
Share your favorite shows from your own childhood
Some cartoons from yesteryear age like a fine wine, and it’s always fun to share a piece of your own childhood with your children. With so many video-streaming services available from the touch of a button, there is no shortage of vintage cartoons. If you’re feeling extra nostalgic, have a series marathon of all the oldies-but-goldies. Speaking of marathons…
Dig in to that watch list you’ve been meaning to start
If you have a video-streaming service subscription, chances are you’ve been adding titles to a “watch later” section for quite some time now, but haven’t gotten around to tackling the now-monstrous list of films and shows. Forced time inside – like self-isolation or quarantine – can be a perfect time to make a dent in the list. Assuming the titles are appropriate for your children – I suggest checking the MPAA rating – then make some snacks and huddle the family around the television. Time to get the most out of that $10-plus per month subscription fee.
Make a blanket fort for optimal playtime
While some may fantasize about having their very own movie theater, castle or “man cave,” the reality is that many of us already built something similar as a kid – a blanket fort. If you never have built one, or your children have yet to discover the joy of playing in their very own hideout of fun, then this time inside may prove the perfect opportunity. All you need is blankets and chairs. Boxes can suffice in a pinch, as well. For the ambitious fort maker, there are many tutorials on the internet, but the goal here is to let creativity guide you. Think like a kid again, or let your own take the lead on this project. Everything under the sun (fabric-dampened living room lights) – from tea time to setting up plastic soldier battles – is on the table for potential play fort operations.
Enlist your children into the service of the kitchen
Some of my favorite memories of my mother and I were in the kitchen. She was the one who taught me how to cook. And from baking apple pies to her giving me the reins on making beef vegetable soup from scratch, we made precious memories. We laughed, we loved and we learned – I, about cooking, and she, about me. Pick some simple – or, depending on your ambition, not-so-simple – recipes and commission your child as your sous chef. Time in the kitchen can be rewarding as both of you are working toward a common, tasty goal, the fruits of which labor you can enjoy together later. Just remember not to leave children unattended around a hot stove or sharp knife.
Co-author a story or poem
For the more literary families, it can be fun to write a story together. Take turns writing lines or paragraphs – or pages, if you really get on a roll – and you may look back with equal amounts of surprise and pride at what you and your children created. Stories can be fun and lighthearted, mysterious and deep, suspenseful and thrilling, or heartfelt and warm. It’s up to you and your children. Create whatever fictional universe you please, and let imaginations roam wild.
Break out one of the classics – Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek is a game that never fails to bring joy and laughter, and the home is a perfect place for this happy-go-lucky undertaking. All you need are good hiding spots – which is limited only by your own imagination – and time, of which there is currently a surplus. Show your children one of the games you used to play at their age. For a livelier match, combine this game with tag and try to escape after being found.
Set out on a (educational) treasure-seeking adventure
Scavenger hunts are an engaging way to get children off the couch and on their feet. Who doesn’t like finding hidden treasure? Parents can utilize this time-tested game to continue children’s education from home, by concealing items with lessons attached to them. Use resources from the trusted websites such as those that end in “.gov” or “.org” (like NASA) and get ideas for lesson from children’s favorite educational shows. Education can become more fun when both student and teacher are active participants in the process – so get out in the yard and hide some knowledge.
Get active with classic outdoor games like four square and wall ball
During extended periods of required isolation, it can be difficult to fight the urge to do nothing but spend time consuming entertainment through the internet and television, but it’s important to remember that social distancing does not prevent families from spending time in their own driveway or backyard. Have sidewalk chalk and a (bouncy) ball? Great! Several fun games, like four square, can be a source of hours of entertainment. Just have a ball and no chalk? No problem. Wall ball is an active game where one party “serves” the ball against a wall, and one party returns the serve. The game is not limited by an amount of players. For more games like these visit PlayWorks, a national 501(c)3 nonprofit that encourages “safe and healthy play every day.”
Have something to add to the list? The GUIDON wants to hear how you’ve been spending time at home. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the fun things you’ve been doing to pass the time with your children.