16 ways to keep kids (and yourself) occupied

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If the thought of having your children cooped up at home is freaking you out a little bit, here is some inspiration for the next two weeks

Yes, two weeks at home with small ones to entertain is daunting. We understand the urge to panic-buy a trampoline — no judging here! But some forward planning, a sense of humour and a good dose of calm should keep your household relatively harmonious until 29 March.

Remember that, thankfully, kids don’t seem to get too severely affected by the virus, but they can be carriers. That is why it is important to take the responsibility of keeping kids at home and a safe distance from others very seriously.

On a lighter note, you can approach this with a positive mindset and see this as a lovely opportunity to spend quality time with your kids, focus on activities you tend to let fall to the wayside when the family is busy, and enjoy some downtime together as a family… even if not completely by choice!

Some kids will be thrilled to be home, some might miss school a bit, so just stay aware of how they are feeling and keep everyone in the household feeling positive.

1. Plan a schedule for the next two weeks

Kids will inevitably ask “what are we doing today?” Even though these are unprecedented times, they will be looking to you for guidance on everything. Putting a plan in place will help eliminate cries of “I’m bored”, and also stop them having too much time to overthink and get worried. Whether it’s a daily challenge, designated arts and crafts or baking days, having a go-to answer will help distract everyone from what’s going on outside.

2. Teach them about the virus and hygiene in a non-scary way

Equip your kids with the knowledge they need to stay safe, and encourage good hygiene habits. It’s all about positivity, there’s no need for them to be scared, but these practices are our best defence right now.

3. Keep active

Everyone, kids and adults alike, could do with some feelgood endorphins right now. Whether it’s having races, using a skipping rope or bouncing on a trampoline, find ways to get them moving at home. If training sessions and classes they usually partake in are cancelled, they may be  a bit worried too. Set aside time to practice skills they need, put a fun spin on their favourite activities like dancing and gymnastics by setting challenges, or just ensure everyone gets out for a walk or a cycle everyday.

4. Play dress up

Chances are your children have a few costumes around the house, so you can add a bit of mischief to a normal day at home. You don’t even need fancy dress clothes to have fun playing dress up at home. This may be the time to let your kids raid your wardrobe, like Kim Kardashian’s daughter Chi in this video.

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Chicago in her mommy’s closet 👠💓

A post shared by Chicago West (@itsbabychi) on

5. Arts and crafts

If there is anything to stock up on for the next two weeks, it’s supplies like paints, colouring books, craft projects and games that will give your kids hours of entertainment. Make a display of their art and give a prize for the most creative designs.

This I Am Not A Toilet Roll craft book is very timely, and available to order on Amazon.

6. Books, books and more books

Order new books online or download onto a child-friendly tablet or Kindle in the next few weeks. Escape the stress of the world we’re living in and escape to fantasy lands.

7. Chores and cleaning

With everyone at home all day every day for the next while, the house will start to feel chaotic. Don’t try to take it all on yourself if you don’t have to. This is a good opportunity to encourage kids to clean up after themselves, to do their part around the house or teach older children life skills like using the washing machine.

8. Write letters

Maybe they’re missing their school friends right now, or they might not be visiting their grandparents for a few weeks. We’re sure grandparents or school class mates will appreciate a note with drawings and funny stories.

9. Limit screen time

Yes, Disney+ and Netflix seem like lifesavers right now, but watching too much TV or playing video games for too long will only leave children feeling more irritable. Here is some practical advice for parents on screen time from webwise.ie.

10. Find new songs to wash hands to

Chanting Happy Birthday to ourselves is going to get old quickly!

11. Cooking and baking

This is a great opportunity to help kids learn about preparing food and get them to lend you a hand. Afterall, the meals will have to be prepared anyway, and if they’re helping out in the kitchen it’s another way to keep them occupied. Kids will also quickly get absorbed if the task at hand is whipping up some nice treats to eat.

12. Get creative

Challenge them to make their own St Patrick’s Day decorations or cards to send people for Easter. See who can come up with the silliest dance routine, or ask them to organise photo albums. There are lots of everyday activities that can be turned into a game. Try this colour-in-as-you-go activity sheet for smaller kids.

13. Take photos of their pet

If your family is lucky enough to have a dog, cat or other beloved pet, appreciate them and the distraction they can provide now more than ever. Take joy in their quirks, encourage comforting cuddles and catch every photo opportunity.

14. Keep everyone calm and informed

If they get scared, and are hearing worrying news reports, you can help them to be positive about it. Remind them that cleaning helps, that scientists all over the world are doing their best, and that people can recover from it. 

15. Mindfulness

If they’re climbing the walls or feeling anxious, learning to quiet the mind and try a breathing exercise could be a really helpful skill for children. We like this video for little ones before naptime.

16. Remember, it could be worse