Even though we were warned it was a possibility, the sudden upheaval of normal American living due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left even the most prepared shell-shocked. With schools across the U.S. closing, more companies asking their employees to work remotely, and entire cities shutting down, it means families are isolating together all day, every day. Our usual forms of entertainment, from eating out at restaurants to watching live sports games, have been canceled. What’s a family to do?
Fortunately, there is plenty to do with your family that will help you laugh and bond as you all ride this out together at home under the same roof. So take a deep breath, and keep reading for some ideas on how to keep the whining at bay and everyone entertained.
Activities Your Family Can Enjoy Together
Have you ever wished you could spend more time with your family? Now you get to – even if it is forced. In those extra hours after the schoolwork and your work are finished, do at least one thing as a family together rather than everyone watching different shows on their individual devices. You’re already isolated enough–don’t isolate from one another. Force the teenagers to join you. Who knows...years from now, you may remember this time with fondness--when your family had a lot of fun and made lots of memories.
Here are some ideas to help you get started...
- Get creative in the kitchen. Grocery shopping will look a bit different for the time being, so make a game of seeing who can come up with the most creative dishes using what you have on your shelves.
- Exercise as a family. If you live in a more rural area and won’t easily come into contact with others, get outside and go on a walk as a family. If the weather doesn’t cooperate or if you’re in an area forced to shelter in place, find an exercise video on YouTube to tackle together. If you have a Wii or other game console that allows you to play dance games or interactive fitness games, get moving and make a night out of it!
- Play board games. This is the perfect time to play board games, so bust out Scrabble or If you have a less than ideal number of board games, play games like Charades and Pictionary that don’t require an actual game set.
- Teach your kids to play cards. Introduce your kids to some of your favorite card games like Rummy or Spit. Teach them to shuffle. Show them how to build a tower of cards.
- Record silly family videos. If you own a cell phone, then you also have a video camera. Take some silly videos of your family. Have the kids put on plays, puppet shows, or involve everyone in a dance off. Even if the videos aren’t works of art, they will be a great time capsule of this strange season.
- Participate in family Olympics. Enlist your kids to get creative and invent Olympic-style games your whole family can compete in, such as seeing who can walk the furthest with a book on his/her head.
- Video message with family and friends. Stay in touch with your loved ones using video messaging tools like FaceTime and Skype. You can even set up video conferencing to talk to the whole family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) at the same time.
- Work in the yard. As we move into spring, get outside, and do some yard work or plant a garden. Even little kids can pull weeds, and the sunshine will be good for everyone. Just make sure you stay a safe distance from the neighbors!
- Complete a puzzle. Put together a 1000+ piece puzzle. Take your time and work on it a little bit every day until it is complete.
- Have fun playing hide-and- Need your kids to burn off some energy and excitement? Play a good old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek in the house. Hint: If you hide well, you will get some extra time away to rest from the kiddos.
- Embrace the arts. Get out the art and craft supplies and create a masterpiece. You can even find videos of artists like Bob Ross and illustrators like Mo Willems that will teach you step by step.
- Fold origami. Gather some paper and search online for origami instructional videos and see which family member can fold the best swan.
- Look at the stars. When was the last time you just stood and looked at the stars? Take your whole family outside one evening and see which constellations you can identify.
- Celebrate special events. Even though you are in self isolation you can still celebrate special events, like birthdays and holidays. It just means you have to think outside the box.
- Build something. As a family, talk about something your home or neighborhood is missing and then build it. For example, consider building a little free library for your community, raised garden beds for veggies, or even a birdhouse.
- Practice your family’s emergency plan. You're all at home, and you are living through a pandemic. If your kids are old enough, there may never be a better time to talk about your family’s emergency plan and practice it.
- Pack your bug-out bags. Along those same lines, this is also a meaningful way to get your kids to pack their bug-out bags.
- Teach an old dog new tricks. If you have a pet, spend a bit of time each day trying to teach your four-legged family member some new tricks.
Ideas for Entertaining (While Educating) Your Kids
Your kids are going to be bored and go stir-crazy. You can alleviate some of their whining if you are prepared with different ways to entertain them. While they should have fun during this break, there are entertainment options that are educational.
- Find safe forms of media. You may want to loosen your screen time rules for this period. However, you can use the website Common Sense Media to find parent reviews of all media (apps, movies, video games) to make sure they are making safe choices.
- Explore somewhere new on a virtual field trip. Have your kids search places they wish they could go and take a virtual field trip. Many museums, aquariums, and zoos offer these virtual tours for free online.
- Encourage them to journal. Remind your kids that some of our most important historical findings came from people’s journals. Encourage them to write about this pandemic as if it will be a historical document in the future.
- Reward them for completing extra chores. If your kids will work for a bit of cash, use this extra time to keep them busy doing the chores you don’t want to do.
- Teach them what they don’t learn in school. Thankfully, schools and the teachers have provided ample at-home learning resources. Consider this as a special time for you to teach your kids things they won’t learn at school, like how to change the oil in the car, how to sew on a button, or how to balance a checkbook.
- Let your kids teach you something. If you want your kids’ full attention, ask them to teach you how to do something they are interested in, like how to use Snapchat or do that TikTok dance.
Ways to Entertain Yourself
- Binge-watch TV. Now is the perfect time to finally watch that series you’ve heard so much about.
- Sharpen your cognitive skills. You’ve never had time to complete the Sunday crossword puzzle–now you do! Completing crosswords and doing sudoku are wonderful ways to keep your brain sharp.
- Learn something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn to do (knit or crochet, maybe?), but didn’t have the time or the money? Search for lessons or how-tos on YouTube; you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to learn something new.
- Make a to-do list for home repairs and tackle it. We all have a giant list of home repairs we will get to ONE DAY. One day starts TODAY. Get busy.
- Read, read, read. When is the last time you read a whole book or a whole series? Check some out from the library. And, if your library is shut down, don’t forget the library’s online resources, which include downloadable ebooks and audiobooks.
- Find ways to help others. Often, the best way to feel better is to help someone else. While volunteering is difficult during this time, you can still donate to ministries and nonprofits that need to stock their pantries. You can also take extra toilet paper or food to your elderly neighbor.
- Clean and organize. You will likely never have the spring cleaning time like you have this year, so take advantage of it.
These are unprecedented times, friend. Take this opportunity to make the most of this situation with your family and loved ones.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply