Almost every parent alive is familiar with the cries of “I’m bored” or “there’s nothing to do.” Even if your little one is too young to be talking yet, you can tell when they’re not happy with restlessness, moans, and general discontent. And when babies aren’t happy, Mama and Papa aren’t happy too – it’s a fact.
As a work-from-home Mom, I know it can be a huge challenge to juggle work life, home life, and everything in between. There are days when I feel I’m winning – kids are smiling, busy, and learning, and others when it doesn’t seem to be working at all – I’m running late, stressed, trying to fit everything in, and I probably look like I’ve been dragged through a bush.
But, I’ve learned one thing. No matter how bad it is, stop and take a deep breath. You’ll get through this. That mess doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, nor does a take-away dinner once in a while. As long as most of the time, it’s going to plan, don’t sweat the small stuff. What matters is your health, sanity, and of course, your beautiful little angels.
In today’s current situation, we, as parents, are being asked to keep our kids home and help keep ourselves and others safe. Social distancing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but it is a challenge.
To help you (and all of us) get through it. We’ve brought together 15 top activities to do with your little ones to keep productive and have fun while doing it.
Top 15 activities to keep kids busy
1. Messy creative time
Messy time activities cover everything from painting to drawing to adding glitter to every known surface possible. Kids love to make a mess and be creative. It keeps them busy, lets them flex those creative muscles, which are essential for problem-solving later.
Although it might seem frightening to let the kids take creative control, fear not. With a little handy preparation, you can rein in the terror and create a fantastic, creative yet control environment.
Make sure you have washable tablecloths or a waterproof floor mat. Set all the items – paints, glitter, glue, etc. – on there, available for your little ones. Set the rules of only what’s on the mat’s allowed and let them create.
You might also want to set a task – create a dragon, house, etc. – and a set time to make sure that creativity doesn’t flood into a true mess.
2. Get them involved in tasks
Now, it’s time for the clean-up. This task is great as it helps your little one gain independence and responsibility. We, as adults, see chores as, well, chores. We forget that for little eyes, this might seem like a fun activity.
Get them involved in tasks around the house. Try getting them to do some dusting, brush the floor, put away the toys, or even wash the dishes. Make it seem like a game by racing to who gets it done first or who’s dishes are the cleanest.
At the start, it might seem like a lot of parental involvement, but over time, your children will become more independent and capable. No spotless houses promised, though.
3. Make a cartoon
Get this one right and you’ll have some tiny little Spielbergs running around soon. This is another creative task that’ll help them flex those muscles and learn some new planning skills.
Start out with a pen and paper. Get them to draw out their storyboard – like a cartoon. Once they know what the overall plan is, it’s time to pick up the video camera. Of course, an old phone or iPad will do the job too. Anything that lets your children make and record a video.
The actors can be toys or even your own kids (and their friends). Once they’ve completed their creation, it’s time to switch it to the big screen and laugh at its awesomeness.
4. Family board games
The family that plays together, stays together. Board games are an excellent way to bond and spend time together. They’re also great for boosting those strategic thinking skills.
Depending on the age of your children, you might choose from Snakes and Ladders, Twister, Monopoly, the Game of Life, or even Chess. You can also include card games into the mix. But don’t be mad, when they learn all the tricks and beat you at your own game.
5. Treasure hunt
Remember all those childhood memories you have running around outside on adventures, trying to get to the treasure? Now’s the time to recreate that for your little ones.
Hide several items around your house or garden and make clues to help them find the items. You can also set a theme – Pirates, Harry Potter, you name it – to make it even more fun.
At the end, you’ll have some tired-out kids, and a lot of fun memories.
6. Outdoor play
Football, basketball, running – pick your passion. Children love nothing more than running about outdoors, now’s a good time to encourage that. Get out the necessary activities and pull up a chair as they explore the great outdoors. You can even get involved if you want to.
Outdoor play involves creative skills as children invent games and boost their health with cardio exercise activities.
Sun setting? That’s no excuse. You can create some great outdoor games even in the dark – hide and seek, glow in the dark bowling, and more.
7. Meditation and yoga
We all need a little time for us, and that includes our children too. Taking some time out of your busy routine to create a little chill can set your children up for a great day. Yoga and meditation help focus the mind and body.
It reduces stress and increases focus. Want to know more? Check out our article on reasons children should meditate and how you can help.
Setting aside time is good for your mind and body and is a great bonding activity for you and your little one.
8. Reading books
Reading is a lost art. I love nothing more than to grab a warm cup of tea and sit down with a good book. Although since becoming a mom, that’s a rare occurrence – both the tea and the book.
Our days are now filled with electronic books on the way to a meeting. That’s why, starting a reading hour (or more realistically, 30 minutes) can do wonders for your mind and stress levels.
Get your kids into reading by creating the right atmosphere. Leave books around, make sure they’re colorful, and make the time to read, even if it’s a short story. Your children will get lost in the pages and eventually fall in love with it the way you have.
There’s nothing quite like getting on your PJs, grabbing those snacks, and a fluffy blanket, and snuggling up on the couch to watch a classic. Watching a movie with your family is a great way to spend time relaxing, so put down your phone and pay attention to the screen.
If you choose the right movie, you can also use it as a conversation point with your little ones. A moral tale can be an excellent way to teach about life’s lessons. So make the most of a little down time.
10. Design a T-Shirt
Pick up a couple of white t-shirts and some t-shirt paint in advance for this fun activity. If you have any budding fashion designs in your house, now is the time to let them come out and go wild.
Give a t-shirt to each of your kids and allow them to design it in whatever way they want. You can use paints, glitter, and even experiment with tie-dye!
After all is done and dried, then it’s time to put on a fashion show.
11. Build a fort
Protecting the princess, got a girls or boys club, or maybe it’s the siege of the castle. No matter the backstory, there is no excuse not to build a fort. Blankets, cardboard boxes, tables, chairs, almost anything can be used to create the most awesome fort ever.
Kit it out with some torches, great for making shadows and telling stories, and some fun activities and let their imagination run wild.
You can even join in – if they let you!
12. Get baking
You don’t have to be a master chef to do this one. Even the simplest will do. If your baking skills, like mine, are limited, why not try some cornflakes nests or rice crispy buns.
These are simple treats you can make with a few simple ingredients – cereal, chocolate, mini-chocolate eggs. Kids love to get messy and involved and this comes with an edile result at the end.
Feeling a little more adventurous? That’s ok too. Let your little ones get in the middle of it. Have them help you stir the batter, mix in the flour, crack open the eggs. All this teaches them valuable skills and is a bunch of fun too. Remember to refer to point 2 for help cleaning up.
13. Jigsaw puzzles
This one requires a little patience and a good eye. Set aside a table to work on and empty out the pieces. Choose one with a challenging picture to last a few days or something simple for an afternoon activity.
You can teach strategy skill by searching for the edge pieces first and then building towards the center, or make it a free-for-all as each family member builds their own section. Either way, it’ll be a whole lot of fun to do it together.
14. Take the family for a drive
Nothing but you, the family and the open road. When it’s a rainy day or I can’t concentrate on another craft, I love grabbing the kids, a couple of snacks and popping them in the car for a good old-fashioned drive.
Strap the little ones into their car seats, pop in your favorite sing-a-long – no, it doesn’t have to be Disney – and hit the gas (ok, not too hard).
Take some new roads, and of course, be careful. Driving around and seeing your area gives you the opportunity to learn new things, relax your mind, destress and spend precious moments with the little ones.
15. Go for a walk
Ah, the great outdoors! What better time than now to go on a nature adventure. Local forests and parks provide an excellent space for activity.
Grab the family and go. Being outdoors is a great way to refresh the mind and body. Get some fresh air and explore. Kids love uncovering the hidden mysteries of the local area, and I bet yours has some great ones. Perhaps a famous king or queen lived there, or there are some historical stones.
Whatever happened there, your kids will find a way to make it magical.
And that’s it!
This is my list of great activities, tried and tested, but I’m sure you have some of your own too. Feel free to get in touch and share your secrets with us. And remember Mama and Papa, don’t be ashamed if you’re simply too tired to do much, any time you spend with your children is special to them. So take the pressure off and just enjoy life.