It is no secret that this “new normal” is strange, unsettling, and downright hard. With the recent social distancing restrictions put in place because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many parents are finding themselves trying to put in long days at home and keep their children entertained. As a working parent to two young kids, I can attest to the fact that this is no easy feat. Kids’ attention spans aren’t overly long, and they tend to switch tasks frequently throughout the day, which makes it challenging keeping them entertained and avoiding the whole “I’m bored” dilemma. Throw in homeschooling, and many parents are feeling overwhelmed and at a loss as to how they’ll get through this all. But, there areways to keep your children entertained during lockdown, without losing your cool in the process.
Fortunately, there are often silver linings on rain clouds, and the internet is one of them this time. With everyone being so isolated at home, people are turning to online resources to help pass the time. Luckily, many companies are choosing to provide entertainment free of charge, in light of all that is going on globally. You can do a virtual tour of so many different places, from zoosto museums, all of them free. There are also many organizations that are offering free learningopportunities for your kids, such as Scholasticwhich offers excellent day-by-day projects, Storyline Onlinewhich provides favorite read-alouds for your child to enjoy listening to, and National Geographic Kidswhich encourages older children to explore a wide variety of science-related topics.
Get out into nature!
These are stressful times, and everyone is feeling it, even (if not especially) our kids. Their entire daily routine has been altered, their parents are likely stressed and overwhelmed to some degree, and they don’t have any interactions with their peers. Nature can help wonders in lowering feelings of stress and anxiety, and it can help everyone to find their sense of calm again. Go for a walk together, visit a hiking trail, get away from the city. However you can, get out into nature and allow yourself and your kids time to just breathe and relax. Collect new leaves or treasures that you find, do a nature scavenger hunt like these ones here, or just enjoy walking or bikingthrough a new trail.
In the age of Pinterest and the internet, even the most uncrafty person can find some easy activities to do at home. Break out the scissors and glue, grab the crayons, and see what you can create. Even just raiding your wastebasket for some toilet rollscan provide endless crafting fun, and there are many posts online for how to use your recycled materialsfor crafting. However you choose to do it, kids love to be creative, get messy, and make new things. Check online for “how to” videos and posts, and then just give it a go! Whether you want to capture your child’s youth by making a cute handprint craftor you want to make something useful for around the house, there are lots of things you can make to help pass the time.
Encourage independent play
You cannotbe your child’s sole form of entertainment all day long, as it is simply not sustainable long term. Instead, begin to teach your child how to play independently, which is a valuable skill to develop, as it helps them to also develop their sense of self, their problem-solving skills, and their creativity. Set aside a short amount of time to start with, and explain that this is everyone’s “quiet time” (or whatever term you would like to use). You may only start with 15 minutes, but slowly increase this until your child is able to sustain independent play for up to an hour. When you first begin, provide some toys and/or books for your child to explore, to help them find something to do. Eventually, they will learn to engage in their own free play, and will enjoy using their own imaginations and creativity to keep them busy.
These are hard times, and it is important that we stay connected within our homes. Find simple ways to spend quality time together, make time to connect each day, and try to find time to look after yourself as well. We will get through this!
Author Bio:Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
Featured Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels