By: John Wahl
Let’s just be blunt for a moment. The world sucks right now. Like…. it sucks hard. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the globe with the death toll rising and people’s anxiety at record levels. There really is no way to sugarcoat the fact that it is going to be a very rough year for nearly everybody.
But even though it’s going to be tempting to crawl under a blanket and do nothing but watch Netflix until 2021, we need to continue living. We need to find ways to bring some amount of joy into our lives, especially if you have children. They are going to look to us to ease the pain of what’s to come and to try and bring some small sense of normalcy back to their lives.
Chances are that you’ll be spending considerably more time with your kids than you’re used to during this time. Schools are closed, we’re being asked to stay home, and for many of us, we’ve either been laid off or are being asked to work from home. So what do you do to pass the time and ensure that you don’t all drive each other nuts while we wait for this to be over? Well, we have a few suggestions.
While we’ve all been asked to stay at home as much as possible during this pandemic (and we absolutely should), so far we are still allowed to get a little exercise outside as long as we still maintain our distance from each other. So go for a walk, explore your neighborhood, and get some much-needed exercise. Many neighborhoods have started fun little scavenger hunts for families to look for while they’re out walking, from paper hearts in the window to stuffed bears playing hide and seek in the yard. Being able to get at least a little bit of fresh air each day is going to be great for your health.
Movie theaters might be closed but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to watch! Some of the spring’s movies are either skipping straight to digital or are releasing earlier than planned, and there’s always a ton of great options on Disney + for the family. But don’t just watch a movie, make an event out of it! Make a giant bowl of popcorn, set up a blanket fort, turn off all the lights and crank up the sound. You can make it as much fun in your living room as it is in the movie theater, and it’ll be a lot cheaper too.
There’s always something great about getting the entire family at the dining room table and spending the evening with a good old fashioned board game. Whether your family is competitive or likes to work cooperatively, whether they enjoy the classics or a popular new game, or if they want to spend 20 minutes playing or 4 hours, there is a board game for every type of family out there. Some of our recent favorites include Choose Your Own Adventure and Codenames, but you also can’t go wrong with the classics like Clue, Jenga, or Life.
My kids and I recently tried this for the first time and they had an absolute blast. I created clues and riddles, hiding them all around the house and making them work together to solve each one and find where the next one was located. My girls sprinted all around the house trying to find each one and afterward I realized I should have made it a little more challenging as they finished the whole thing in less than 10 minutes. So give it some thought and try to make it challenging, but not too hard. For an added little incentive you can hide some candy or a small toy at the very end.
Art and Crafts Night
Now is a good time to let your creative side shine. Get out the scissors, glue, and markers and create something fun with the kids. There are so many different fun things to do and many of them you’ll be able to create with the things you already have lying around the house. Maybe work on some of those hearts for your windows that I mentioned earlier! It’s calm, quiet, meditative fun and you can all pick a new project to do each week. Good Housekeeping has a great list of 50 projects for you to try, you can find them HERE.
Many of us had vacation plans that are getting postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus. This can be very tough on the kids knowing that they’ll be stuck at home most of the summer. But there are ways to see some sights while staying at home. Have the family pick a destination and then visit it on Google Earth! From the Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo, Japan to dozens of National Parks from around the country, you can visit nearly any place on Earth from the comfort of your couch! It’s not exactly the same as being there in person but it can still be exciting and fun.
Having all of this time together with your kids can be a great opportunity to teach them some valuable skills that they’ll need later in life. Cooking with your kids can be an incredibly fun activity and it also teaches them something useful. My girls have always been excited for the opportunity to help in the kitchen and there’s no better time than now to get started with this. There are lots of cookbooks out there aimed at kids, but don’t be afraid to go off-script and let them create some culinary masterpieces of their own. Cooking can also be a great creative outlet!
We love science in our house. Whether it was Mentos and Diet Coke or making slime, my kids have always enjoyed doing experiments around the house. The great thing about doing science projects is that it’s highly entertaining but you can also make it a learning experience by teaching them how it all works while you’re doing it! Yes, I know I sounded like a big nerd saying that but trust me, it’s fun. Check out this list of experiments at Science Fun to get started.
Reading has always been a fantastic way to pass the time, and with all of the time we have right now it’s the perfect chance to catch up on some of the books you’ve been meaning to read. And while reading to yourself is always great, I’d also recommend having the family picking out a novel they’re all interested in and reading together as a group. You can even take turns having members of the family read out loud each night!
Of course, we can’t make a list of things to do without mentioning our absolute favorite pastime… video games! Escaping into the world of gaming has been an invaluable resource these past few weeks. It gives us a few hours to forget the worries of the world and just be immersed in a different time or place. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little escapism and gaming is perfect for that. It’s also a great way for your kids to connect with classmates that they aren’t able to see at school anymore It’s super important for your kids to be able to still talk with their friends, even if it’s only through a game like Minecraft or Roblox. So maybe loosen up the usual electronics time limits and let them spend a little extra time socializing.
It’s already been a really long spring. The few weeks that we’ve been dealing with COVID-19 already feels like a lifetime, and all indications are that we’ll be dealing with it for most of the summer, if not most of 2020. There’s no way around the fact that it’s going to be tough. There are times where we’re going to be frustrated, angry, sad, or scared. But it’s also an opportunity for us to spend some time with our families that we usually complain that there is far too little of, and for us to recognize and appreciate all of the things that we usually take for granted.