Entertaining your kids lately probably hasn’t been easy. They’re tired of playing with the same ol’ toys, and being stuck inside with the same annoying siblings. And with all of the holidays that have happened since the pandemic started, your kiddos are most likely missing the relatives that they used to spend so much time with. But there's still a way to keep that coveted connection to family while safely social distancing. In fact, these 20 Zoom activities for families that are fun, engaging — and possibly tear-inducing, too.
While it might not be exactly the same to watch their aunts and uncles through a screen, it’s part of life now. And as parents, we have to do what we can to normalize the experience so that it doesn’t adversely affect our kiddos. “It seems like we have all fallen through the looking glass and found ourselves living in an alternate reality where we have been forced into isolation and estrangement from friends, family, and others in our environment,” Toni Coleman, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Romper. “That’s why finding creative ways to connect, share, and find comfort in the company of others is more important than ever.”
And if Zoom hasn’t become a part of your everyday life yet, well, get ready because it’s about to be. Zoom is a great way to video chat with far-off family members — and even those who live right down the road. Because your kids need to feel the comfort and love of their relatives, especially right now.
So get ready to sign onto your Zoom account and stay connected to those you love the most, with activities that will make you laugh, cry, be grateful for today, and have hope for a better tomorrow.
Have A Dance Off
Youngsters (and those young at heart) can square off on a virtual dance floor. Have everyone submit suggestions for a playlist, and then play some songs that everyone has to dance to. The winner can get a prize that can be redeemed when the family gathers again in person.
Clear The Clutter
It’s springtime, and you’re indoors. What better time to start doing a deep spring cleaning? While purging your closets might not be exactly what comes to mind when you think of connecting with your relatives, organizing your stuff (along with the help of your fam) can be the motivation to donate some items that you haven’t worn since forever. Plus, you might uncover some family heirlooms that everyone will want to see.
There’s nothing like the smell of something yummy baking in the oven. But even though you can’t cook together, you can still whip up something simultaneously in your separate kitchens. Whether it’s chocolate chip cookies or a quiche, you can have everyone offer suggestions about what they’d like to make, and have a virtual dinner or treat together.
Create A Book Club
Since everyone is spending so much time at home, you can limit screen time by creating a book club. Family members can pick the books they’d like to read, but just make sure that the content is suitable for all ages. Then, you can have weekly Zoom club meetings where you discuss the book and offer opinions.
Take A Tour
There are so many museums and zoos that are offering virtual tours. Ask everyone where they’d like to visit (online, of course), and schedule a Zoom call to explore it together. Not only will it offer bonding as you explore a new place, but it might inspire some serious wanderlust once some of the restrictions are lifted.
Share The Schoolwork
Raise your hand if being your child’s teacher is starting to wear a little… thin. Solicit some help from your kid’s uncle (you know, the math teacher), to help your kid complete some of his schoolwork. Sure, it keeps the connection between family — but it also helps your kiddo with their math equations, too.
Play Board Games
Right now, everyone’s feeling a little, well, bored. So break out the board games and have some Friday night fun. Look for games that can be played easily online (think charades or Pictionary), where you won’t have to worry about moving itty bitty board pieces around.
Do A Date Night
Let’s say that Saturday nights are set aside for the grandparents (who, by the way, are probably missing their grandbabies so, so badly by now). See if you can do a Zoom video call with them, reenacting everything they would normally do if they were spending the night with their grandparents. For example, they can bake together, and Grandma and Grandpa can even “tuck” the kids in and read them a bedtime story. It will keep the connection going — and possibly cause a few tears, too.
Do Show & Tell
Host a show and tell session with your family. Have each family member come to the call with an item that holds meaning to them. It might be something sentimental, but be sure that everyone feels comfortable talking about why this object is so important. You never know, you might learn something new about a beloved aunt or uncle.
Get To Gaming
Let your kids do what they do best — play video games — the next time your family is on Zoom. You can connect your gear (if you’re not sure, your kids definitely will know how to do it), and let the games begin. Seeing Grandma trying to kill it in Fortnite is going to have everyone rolling.
Sure, it’s old fashioned, but that’s what makes writing letters so heartwarming. For younger kids, it’s an opportunity to perfect their penmanship — and it gives you a reason to go outside, get some air, and put the letter in the mailbox. Plus, it’s an opportunity to write down what you’re really feeling. Everyone in the family can send weekly letters to each other and then read them aloud online. Cue the waterworks.
Plan For The Future
One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind is: “When will life go back to normal?” While sadly no one has that answer yet, there’s nothing stopping you and your family from making fun plans. Gather together online and get everyone’s insight on what they’d like to do post-pandemic. It might be something as simple as seeing friends, or walking outside without a mask, but the topic could yield bigger, more insightful answers that inspire the entire family.
Make A Video
Since you can’t sit together and socialize like you once could, now’s the time to get those cameras rolling. Have everyone make a fun, short video impersonating another member of the family. Then, compile the videos together and play them during your next family Zoom chat. Hilarity (and tons of laughs) will ensue.
Create A Craft
If one thing is for certain, the Coronavirus is turning lots of people into excellent crafters or bakers. Show off those skills during your family’s Zoom call by having everyone work on a craft together. It might be each person creating one square of a quilt that Grandma will eventually sew together. It might be baking a batch of brownies or doing some decoupage. Have a sample of the craft so everyone knows what they’re striving for, but stress that the final product is completely open to everyone’s interpretation.
Give A Tutorial
Who says that the older members of the family can’t learn from the kids? If their grandparents are perplexed about how some of this tech stuff works (like getting the camera to focus on their faces, and not, you know, the top of their heads), your kiddos can give them a crash course in technology. And once they know how things work, it will make your subsequent Zoom calls that much smoother.
Become Sherlock Holmes
When everyone is together, it can be crazy chaos. But with family members staying safely in their homes and on a Zoom call, things might be calmer. That’s why it’s a good opportunity to ask questions that you’ve always wondered about. For example, your child can find out from Grandpa what it was like to serve in the armed forces, or the secret ingredient in Grandma’s Sunday sauce.
Make Music Together
Every family has a musician — or four. Have everyone take out their musical instruments and play some songs together. No instruments? No problem — you can use almost anything to make music, even pots and pans. In the end, it doesn’t even really matter how musically inclined everyone is; it’s all about having fun and making memories.
Share Your Rose/Thorn
While there are lots of things to complain about at the moment, there are also lots of beautiful moments that might have been missed had this not happened. While you’re all together on Zoom, take some time to share your rose and your thorn for the day or week. Remember, gratitude can be contagious, so having your kids share what’s making them happy just might put everyone else in a good mood, too.
Toni Coleman, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach