As families find themselves in a strange new norm, it’s a great chance to spend more quality time together. Many families will build fond memories to talk about in years to come. But it’s not without potential stress. Aside from health concerns, many parents are trying to work from home while continuing their children’s education.
Depending on the age of your children, it can be difficult for them to understand what’s going on in the world right now. It’s likely to feel confusing and potentially frightening for some children. They’re looking to you—their parents—for comfort and reassurance. During this time, you’ll want to maintain some normality for your family. Routines and family time create a sense of security—and that includes entertaining the kids.
But that can be easier said than done, right? Many parents are struggling with power struggles between siblings and trying to stay encouraged themselves. Looking after your own well-being is essential to be the best parent you can be. So take some time for yourself when you need it. And if you need support, reach out. Heartmanity provides parent coaching and support. Check out our resources: parenting with emotional intelligence, understanding your child’s cognitive development or temperament, or learn how to support emotional development. All are key, especially in challenging times.
For now, if you’re just looking for quick distractions and easy ways to entertain your children, we’ve put together some of our favorites, which can be made with everyday objects you already have at home. Take a look:
Have Fun with Arts and Crafts
With a bit of imagination, you can get creative with household items. You can make stamps with potatoes, create butterflies with paper cutouts of their small hands, or you can make your own Play-Doh with just three ingredients.
For toddlers and older children alike, finger painting is an excellent way for them to keep their hands busy and create their own messy masterpieces. Cover the entire kitchen table with baking paper and let them go for it—it’s a sure way to get their creative juices flowing! Creativity can keep them occupied for hours. For older children, here’s a video for painting flowers to get them started or another video for other creative ideas.
* * *
Head to the Garden
If you’re lucky enough to have an outside space, it’s great to get children outside as much as possible. Your own garden is a safe place to engage your children in a healthy activity while also growing fresh food that will help reduce your grocery list a couple of months down the road.
Gardening is also a fabulous way to give older children and teenagers some responsibility. For example, have them plan a garden (even build a raised garden), then plant and water their own plants. Again, you don’t have to let household items go to waste; instead, reuse them. For example, use your milk cartons by washing them, poking holes in the cap, and then they’ve got their own watering can, which younger kids love personalizing by decorating.
If you have a dog, encourage your children to walk, brush, and play with them as much as possible. This activity is not only good for your children’s health but for the dog’s health too, especially with millions of overweight dogs growing in number, according to recent research by Direct Line.
* * *
Capitalize on Technology: Take Virtual Tours
Of course, no-one wants to encourage children to spend excessive time on screens. However, within healthy parameters, the internet can be utilized as entertainment for the whole family. You might not be able to get out and visit historical sites, museums, art galleries or zoos right now, but a lot of them are doing virtual tours or live experiences.
It’s a chance to explore and visit the world from your living room—from inside Buckingham Palace to the Cincinnati Zoo or even the surface of Mars. They are a fantastic way to prevent feeling cooped up. Check out the best virtual tours available for free.
While we’re talking about screen time, it’s also worth mentioning audiobooks and education podcasts. Plus, there are plenty of stories kids can listen to and relax.
* * *
Transform the Kitchen into a Yummy Laboratory
For supervised fun with some tasty outcomes, cooking with your kids is a great way to keep them entertained without them complaining about how hungry they are every five minutes. Look for simple baking recipes where all ingredients can be combined easily so younger children can be involved and engage their gross motor skills with stirring. If you’re struggling with measurement, remember you can just weigh the eggs and combine the same weight of sugar and self-rising flour for a basic sponge.
And don’t forget the fun activity of pouring vinegar over baking soda. Young children love this exciting fizz! Add a little food color in the mix to keep them fascinated.
The kitchen is also a great place to try out some science experiments. Just because they’re not at school, it doesn’t mean they can’t be entertained and learn at the same time. Luckily, Siemens has released a series of DIY science videos suitable for children ages 7 to 11, or younger with adult supervision. From your own home, you can create lava lamps, quicksand, and a hovercraft —all while learning about science.
You may have other creative ideas you'd like to share. Let us know some of your unique ideas! We’d love you to share your suggestions with us.
Sign up to receive our HeartMail newsletter and stay current on the latest parenting tips, skills, and support.