It can be daunting trying to keep your children occupied during lockdown when you live in an apartment or unit. Even as coronavirus restrictions start to ease, it will likely be awhile before life will return to what we used to call “normal”. The majority of sports and after-school activities will continue to be affected or to operate in a limited capacity; and chances for socialising, shopping or just hanging out will continue to be restricted for a while longer. What this means is that when your children are not at school, they’ll still be spending more time inside your apartment than they used to just a few months ago. And given that they’ve spent a great deal of time indoors lately, they’re likely to be going a little stir crazy.
Here are a few ideas you can try to keep them entertained and off their devices when forced to spend time inside.
Create a cubby house
Get your children to create a special place for themselves where they can go to hang out when they’re getting sick of everyone else’s company. Create a reading nook, fort or hideaway using blankets, pillows or a play tent. Get the kids to decorate it however they choose, and find spots for toys or books that they might want to use while in their cosy nook.
Plant a window box or patio garden
If you live in a small apartment, you can still do some gardening. Grab a suitable container, some potting mix and some seeds or seedlings (let your kids choose) and have fun making an indoor container or hanging garden. Make looking after it your kids’ responsibility.
Run a photography competition
Let your kids participate in a photography competition. Give them a day or so to take interesting and creative photos around the place, then get them to submit their best three for judging. Either judge them yourself (don’t forget prizes) or post them on Facebook and ask your friends and family to vote for their favourite. Your kids will love getting recognition and kudos for their work, and it will force them to think outside the box a little.
Learn a new skill
Is your child interested in art? Buy them a book on art journaling or paper quilling and let them go for it. Give your crafty child some instruction on crocheting or knitting, or your scientific child a book on experiments you can perform with ordinary household items. Whatever your child’s area of interest, find a way for them to learn more about it and practice it – they’ll be proud to show off their new creations.
We all seem to be cooking more these days but try and get your kids involved too. Pick some easy (and yummy) recipes and let them have a go at making them – with supervision, of course. You might find you have a budding chef in the ranks who might be willing to take over dinner preparations sometimes!
Build an obstacle course around the apartment
This can be fun – get your kids to come up with some ideas for a safe but challenging obstacle course that they can run through the apartment. It doesn’t have to be wildly destructive or physical – your course could involve navigating between and around common objects without touching them, walking with a book on your head, or doing handstands against a wall – you’re limited only by your own imagination. You can time them going through the course to make it more of a challenge, then get them to try to beat their own time.
Now might be a great time to introduce your kids to some of your childhood favourite books that they may not have read. If you don’t have suitable books around, order from Amazon or your local bookstore. Have storytime each afternoon, or if your children are independent readers, have a reading marathon and get through a whole series (such as the Narnia books, Lord of the Rings or Ranger’s Apprentice series). Then you can get together and talk about what you enjoyed or found interesting in the books, or even set your children small exercises such as writing a book report or character study.
Host a board games tournament
Your games don’t have to be limited to sports. Dig out your old board games and introduce them to your children. Divide into teams and run your board game session as a tournament – it might last for days. Hours of family fun here!
Have a gym or yoga session
If you’re keeping active, try and get your kids involved as well. Take them through a circuit class, strength session or yoga class – a great way to get your physical activity in and keep active while in isolation.
Have a singalong
Create a playlist of your kids’ favourite songs, collect some hairbrushes to use as microphones and get the music blasting for a singalong or dance-along – or both!
Start learning an instrument
Got an old guitar or keyboard hiding in the back of the closet somewhere? Dust it off, find an instruction book or some free YouTube lessons and let your child get started on learning. Just be aware of your neighbours if you’re living in very close proximity, and choose your times wisely.
Run a Lego Masters competition
Lego Masters has recently been all the rage on TV, and your kids might like to have their own competition. Set them a challenge, give them a time limit and watch their creativity flourish.
Have a scavenger hunt
Take hide and seek to the next level and set your children an indoor scavenger hunt. You can go with a traditional list of items to find, or try something different like a photo scavenger hunt, where your kids have to take creative photos of particular items or scenarios.
Create a photo album
Nowadays, everyone keeps their photos stored on their phone or device – but it might be fun to print out some of your favourites and make a physical photo album. Use some scrapbooking techniques and let the children decorate it however they like.
Make a time capsule
Gather some memories, photos, newspaper clippings and other items related to your lockdown time and create a time capsule. Get the kids to write about their experiences during the coronavirus crisis, or interview family members to capture their experiences as well. Store it away somewhere safe to access five or ten years from today (just don’t forget where you put it!)
Set up a “laser” maze with wool
Get some old wool or string and get your children to zig zag it at varying heights across a room. Then challenge them to get through the maze without touching the “laser”.
Pay your children to clean the apartment
This one’s not super fun, but most kids will do a lot to earn some pocket money. And you’ll end up with a spotlessly clean apartment (well, pretty clean, anyway!).
Put on a play
Ask your children to come up with a short play or musical that they can perform for you. Let them choose or make costumes, develop and practice the performance, add music and come up with a program.