With massive public closures to prevent the spread of COVID19, some 300 million students around the world are currently home from school for what could be weeks. I know it’s a stressful time for most families, but I’ve been brainstorming on some tips, advice, and ideas for low-screen activities while we engage in social distancing. School work still matters. Just because they’re not in class, doesn’t mean they don’t learn. However, they will definitely have more free time. Even as a pediatrician, I get that screen time is going to go up…Hey parents, we all need to band together to get through this. But if you need a break from Disney plus or Netflix, I’ve got some ideas for you!
HAVE SOME SCREEN-FREE ACTIVITIES ON DECK.
Many libraries are expected to close to support social distancing and book exchanges probably won’t be the smartest ideas. If libraries aren’t closed, I recommend you scoop up a few books for your kids, but wash hands before and after the visit to the library! I’ve always loved board games, even a decks of cards, which are great options. Don’t forget arts and crafts too!
IF YOU CAN, GET OUTSIDE.
If you live in a dense urban neighborhood, outdoors may not be the best option. If you don’t live in a dense neighborhood, you don’t need to lock yourself indoors while social distancing, if you’re not feeling ill. You can still go for walks but maintain that 6 foot distance from non family members when outside. If you have a backyard, that’s the best place for kids to play.
ESTABLISH SOME ROUTINES, BUT DON’T FEAR BOREDOM!
At first, kids might need a little extra structure and guidance as they figure out what to do with all this new time. There are some great schedules floating around social media made by moms. If you’re working from home, talk to your children about how things will feel different for the next few days, but as your quarantine continues, don’t worry about keeping them entertained. Here’s the thing-it’s ok for kids to complain about being bored! It’s not ok for them to use this newfound break from school to go to the mall, a friend’s house, or lunch out. Boredom breeds creativity!
EXPLORE A TALENT.
Maybe your child’s always wanted to be a musician…work on a song! Maybe they love to write… grab a new journal and get to it! Perhaps they love to draw…buy some art materials and allow them to be creative!
TALK ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING.
Your kids, no matter how old they are, will perhaps realize something is off. They may still have their routines but maybe mom and dad are home more…or if they’re older, maybe they realize quickly that this staycation means limited socializing. In uncertain times, parental reassurance goes a long way. The Child Mind Institute has a great guide on talking to children about COVID 19. Don’t be afraid to talk to your child. You take on the news and you’re the person who filters the news to your children. Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Tackle your own anxiety before you begin to focus on your child’s.
I know families have a lot on their plates right now, and that you don’t need one more thing to worry about! But by thinking ahead, planning, reassuring, and trusting your children, we can get through this.