While your chances of contracting COVID-19 might be low, your chances of finding yourself quarantined in the near future are somewhat high — the U.N. estimates that 290 million children are currently out of school worldwide due to the pandemic (but don't panic!). It’s ominous to consider a long self-quarantined situation. We are social people who live social lives with social kids and we like to be busy. What happens when we can’t be busy?
We can turn to some tried and tested indoor activities for kids.
Your kids can stay busy at home and it’s not going to take thousands of dollars in activity supplies or hundreds of new toys to make it happen. It also won’t take you turning into a camp director to keep things going. Instead of putting on a song and dance routine, these activities are a catalyst to get independent play going. Kids can play without adults (not without supervision, but without adult intervention) and we can help them get there with activity set-ups.
Let’s start with some activity supply staples that I love to have on hand as the mom behind Busy Toddler (you probably already have most of this!):
- A storage container (empty the one under your bed — it’s just junk anyways)
- Painter’s tape
- Basic art supplies — construction paper, markers, crayons, paint
- Dry rice (my 4-pound bag of rice has been with me for years… it lasts!)
- Basic kitchen tools (which you already have!)
Rip open one of the 52 Amazon boxes you have lying around the house and cut it open. Draw a bunch of roads on the box for your kid(s) to play with. This is an imaginary play wonderland. Cars, trucks, animals, and any other toys can come to play in this new open-ended world.
Leave this as an option for days. There’s a lot of longevity in this activity.
Activity #2: Bathtub Explorer
Baths are not just for nighttime. They make a great morning activity to break up the mundane or help get you through that purgatory time between naps and dinner. Here are five bath options you’ve got to try with your kids:
Baths change everything with kids. They’re a giant, water-filled reset button to fix it all.
Grab your tape and start making some lines — up, down, left, right, zig zag. This meticulous activity takes kids some serious time and breeds independent play. Kids get lost in their line-up world. It doesn’t have to just be animals. Kids can line up animals, cars, puzzle pieces, small toys, and even their snack.
When in doubt with kids, just add water. It’s the best advice I can give you.
Put out a storage container (on a towel) or do this in a bathtub. Add in pitchers and bowls of water (food coloring is optional) for your child to scoop and pour with. Reset as they need it and watch in amazement as this holds your child’s attention for what feels like days. (And then set it up every day after.)
Get your bag of rice and dump it into a storage container. Add some kitchen tools for the kids to play with. Congratulations: You just made a sensory bin. Nothing engages kids more than this simple activity. (Set it on a towel if you’re worried about spills.)
We adults can’t see the magic in a bin of rice, but trust me, kids can. Every few days, switch to out the materials in the bin (add in a muffin tin, some toy animals, a funnel, or a scoop).
Staying inside with kids for long stretches is totally doable.
Break up the hours with an activity set up here or there, and use these as your tools to help keep things moving. Activities pass the time.
“What are we going to do all day?”
The kids are going to play, you’ll set up a few activities to help them keep playing, and the days will tick on by.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.