Children are social creatures that thrive on routine, stimulation, fresh air, and physical movement. A major disruption in their normal schedule can affect their mood and sleeping habits. But staying indoors doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
Extended time at home can be a wonderful and rare opportunity to spend valuable quality time connecting with your children. It gives parents the chance to be present, teach, and deepen the bond with their children. With a little strategy, you can turn long periods indoors into wonderful memories.
Here are some tips on how to get through weeks of seclusion with small children
1. Keep to a routine
It’s easy to sink into the trap of lazy days, but don’t fall for it. Long periods of sedentary lifestyle and isolation can have a negative effect on you and your child’s wellbeing.
Maintain your schedule. Go to bed at your typical bedtime (parents too). Get up at the normal time, get dressed, brush teeth, and start your day as you normally would. If your child is use to a particular schedule at daycare, try to mirror it.
Be intentional with jumpstarting your day, and your day will jumpstart you.
2. Find ways to stay active
Fresh air is one of the most important keys to maintaining a healthy frame of mind. Balcony gardening, brief walks or bike riding in a nature park can leave you and your children refreshed and feeling great.
If outdoor activities aren’t an option, try Zumba for kids and dance along with them! Dancing not your thing? No problem, rearrange your household furniture and make an obstacle course. Building forts, caves, ramps and tunnels are an exciting way to get kids moving. Old moving boxes can be transformed into airplanes, trains, or castles in the imagination of a child. Use that to your advantage.
Or keep it simple by teaching basic exercise moves. Have you ever taught a 3-year-old to do jumping jacks or push-ups? If not, I highly recommend giving it a try. The whole family will be sweating and laughing, by the end.
3. Get out the crafts
Pinterest is a great source for crafting ideas for all ages. Is there a holiday coming up in the near future? Pull out your art supplies and create sessional or holiday themed decorations.
If you have washable paint, let your kids finger paint the bathtub (cleanup is simple and fast!). A face painting set could be well worth its weight in gold when it entertains your kids for an afternoon. Let them choose a cool design and go for it. Don’t worry if you’re not a good artist, your kids won’t care. They’ll love the time spent together. For added fun, let them paint you.
4. Be silly
Being silly is an important part of being a child. Nothing will brighten your child’s mood like seeing a bit of silliness from you. Fill up squirt bottles with water and run around the house squirting each other. Make a mess with shaving cream (in the bathroom). Engage in pretend play, dress up, or a game of hide and go seek. Switch on music and have a dance party. A little bit of silliness will bring loads of joy to everyone’s day.
5. Teach them something
It’s rare that you’ll have the opportunity to spend so much time with your family. Make it special and make it count. Take the chance to teach them something character building.
Think about their development level, and what their next milestones are. What are they currently learning in school or daycare? Can you pick up where the teacher left off and help them master a skill?
Dedicated time at home is a great opportunity to work on things like potty-training, self-feeding, or getting dressed. Your teachers will be thrilled when your child returns, which will serve to boost your child’s confidence and independence.
6. Watch a movie together
If your kids are old enough, movie afternoons are a great way to help your children relax if they’re feeling under the weather. Make a carpet picnic on the floor with blankets and pillows. Choose a family friendly movie and get cozy. For added fun, teach your children how to make popcorn from scratch.
7. Cook together
The kitchen is the heart of the home. Make lasting memories with your children by cooking together.
Kids can get involved in the kitchen at an early age, even if it’s simply exploring the texture of a whisk, or banging on pots. Moments in the kitchen also provide valuable learning opportunities when it comes to teaching lessons like hot, cold, sweet, or sour. Grab a peach and teach what fuzzy feels like. Simple moments in the kitchen can make way for adorable first words like “snack” or “Mmmmmm”.
8. Above all else, take care of YOU!
Make time for your partner and/or self. Be easy on yourself. Don’t stress out if you’re not filling your days with activities and stimulation. Keep in mind that children’s creativity blossoms in moments of boredom. Don’t be afraid to let them explore that.
Find the right balance for your child, and you’ll look back on these tough times with fond memories. They’re only little for a little while, and with every year that passes, they grow more independent. Enjoy this time together and try to treasure it as the gift and opportunity that it is.