There are so many changes occurring in our children’s lives due to the constantly-evolving coronavirus (COVID-19). Social distancing, while so important to flattening the curve, means kids who may normally have a very routine lifestyle are thrust out of that routine. Schools are cancelled, playdates are not an option, and you may be finding yourself asking, “What can I do to keep my children occupied?”
Tufts Children's Hospital's Director of Child Life Services, Andrea Colliton, offers ten tips to help make children’s life at home feel a little more normal during this abnormal time:
Be healthy and stay active
It’s important to be healthy and active as much as possible. To help with this, make exercise a game. One idea is to play Simon Says and incorporate exercise into the commands.
Make a daily schedule
Routines, like your child had when they were at school every day, are very important. They help time pass and provide important structure. Schedule activities during blocks of time for 45 minutes to 1 hour increments and include free-play time into the routine.
Sticker charts/Reward-based system
Reward your child for completing their routine with a sticker chart or reward system. For example, if they complete 30 minutes of reading they get to put a sticker on their chart. They’ll feel good about being rewarded and will get to practice their reading in the process.
Indoor/backyard scavenger hunt
A simple scavenger hunt can help pass the time for your young child.
Shaving cream in bath tub
To allow children the opportunity to play creatively, let them play in the bathtub with shaving cream. The mess is easily rinsed away and your child will have the opportunity to do some sensory play which is important for their creative development.
Teach being clean
While you work to disinfect your home more, have your child help you when appropriate. Teach them the importance of cleanliness. Teaching good hand hygiene and having them sing happy birthday twice to make sure they’re washing for the correct length of time, according to Center for Disease Control Guidelines.
Some screen time is okay, just rotate it into the schedule
No need to avoid the screens all day. Just try to rotate it into their daily schedule. For example, after you read for 30 minutes, you can play on your iPad for 30 minutes.
Go for walks
Long walks are a great way to burn off some energy and pass the time.
Connect with family or friends who are feeling isolated
This time can feel extremely isolating for those who are most vulnerable. Grandparents and immunocompromised family and friends are advised to stay home to ensure they stay healthy. Use this time to FaceTime with them for a designated amount of time. Instead of just encouraging them to chat, have your child practice reading to their loved one. Additionally, write letters or draw pictures to send to them in the mail. This will allow your children to dedicate some time to being creative and can help your loved ones feel less isolated.
Connect with school friends
If you feel like socialization is lacking, connect with parents of your children’s friends, maybe students from their class to set up some time to video chat together. Consider doing lunch together or a virtual play date.
Practice these tips while adhering to the important guidelines set forth by the CDC and our government to help flatten the curve. You and your children will get through this challenging time and return to normal everyday life if we all work together.