Written By: Kristen Varley, BPHE, RECE, St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club Preschool teacher
Okay, so I have a question…
What is actually happening?
The year 2020 has been anything but shy with throwing curveballs our way. So much so, I am frequently catching myself wondering, “Is this actually happening?” Turns out it is. The transition into our latest reality has proven to be nothing short of perplexing and challenging, and while there is a hefty population celebrating that staying indoors and binge watching Netflix is their new civic duty, there is another population trying to wrap their heads around the idea of working a full-time job at home with…. kids. Being only a couple days into this transition myself, I am already laughing at the sad attempts I have made to get anything productive done while simultaneously entertaining a (very busy) tiny human. I may be a preschool teacher, but in no way do I qualify for a “Pinterest Mom” status, so I really had to dig deep on how I was going to get through this while holding onto any bit of sanity that I have left. The good news? While staring bewildered at my toddler-run-disaster of an apartment and brainstorming with some of my awesome mom and teacher friends, I did manage to come up with some simple, free and engaging activities to keep the kids happy over the next few weeks while allowing you to still get your work in on time. So, pour yourself another cup of coffee and let’s do this.
Make an Obstacle Course
The aftermath of living with kids may make your home appear like obstacle courses are a daily routine, but having the kids intentionally build one can actually be loads of fun. First, send them on a hunt to find materials (pillows, furniture, yarn, tape, literally ANYTHING) then set them to work. Extra bonus if you have multiple children because in addition to keeping imaginations active, this can also turn into an activity supporting cooperation and problem solving skills.
Future Rock Stars
If your kids are anything like mine, there is a good chance they are obsessed with filming themselves and watching it a hundred times over afterward. Narcissistic? Meh, maybe. Fun, educational and awesome time spender? Definitely. Have your kids re-enact their favourite story or musical (or better yet, have them write one of their own!) then record them. If you have extra materials for dress-up throw those in there, let their creativity flow while you get to sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
Make Your Own Board Game
Title says it all, but if your kids are a little bit older, a fun DIY game (that merely requires paper and pencils) is a “Family Trivia” game. Have the kiddos brainstorm fun facts about family members and write down the clues. This could also be a ton of fun (and slightly hilarious) to play together as a family once you have some free time!
Create a Scavenger Hunt
The kids can hand select their treasure and then you can hide it on them (sounds like a normal day in my house whenever I try to clean our beloved “Elsa” doll) and then make clues or a map so they can find it. Again, if you have multiple children, encourage them to take turns hiding the “treasure” and they can create the maps themselves.
Painter’s Tape for the Win!
Do you have any painter’s tape hanging around in a junk drawer just begging to be used? Well this is the time to let it shine. Painter’s tape can be used to make countless activities – race tracks, shapes, indoor hopscotch, homes for toys – and leaves behind zero sticky mess!
Go on a Virtual Field Trip
Did you know many zoos, aquariums and farms offer online virtual tours of their spaces? Hello, indoor field trip! Some of these include (but are not limited to): the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trip, Mars (SO COOL) and Animal Cameras (live cams at San Diego Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Georgia Aquarium). Reheat that coffee and enjoy!
Make a Fort and Chill
This one I encourage the adults to take part of as well. These last few weeks have been nothing short of chaotic and uncertain, and while I know we are all putting on brave face for our kiddos, there is no doubt the anxiety about “What’s next?” hasn’t crossed our minds. Get out the blankets and cushions, collect your favourite snacks, put on a good movie (fun fact: “Frozen 2” is now on Disney+) and enjoy the time with your family. We all deserve some downtime together through all of this.
From One Parent to Another
If I can leave you with anything, let it be this:
At the end of the day, our children will look back on the COVID-19 situation and not remember any of the facts. They won’t remember the specifics or the statistics or who it hurt the most. What they WILL remember is how they felt during it. They will remember our calmness, our love and the time spent together (and of course, these awesome activities!) Go easy on yourself, you’re doing an amazing job and at the end of the day, humanity will always come out on top.
You got this.