Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published March 14th 2020
What you can do to keep your kids busy and entertained
As the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the world, Australia now faces the possibility of a lockdown. At the time of writing, many countries are already in lockdown mode such as Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, China, Poland, El Salvador and Denmark. Lockdown basically means closing a country's borders and the closing down of places such as schools, colleges, childcare facilities, cultural institutions, places of worship, restaurants, cafes, bars and casinos for a period of time. This means people staying inside their homes for a period of time. The lockdown measures are designed to help contain the spread of the virus.
When the Australian lockdown takes place-and I'm saying 'when' here because it really will only be a matter of time before it happens-what then can you actually do to stop yourself going mad when you're stuck at home? Now, I've read some great tips recently on social media on what to do during a lockdown. Things like binge-watching NETFLIX, and learning a language, and reading that enormous novel you've been wanting to read for ages, or even writing that novel you've been wanting to write for ages. However, these tips were written without young children in mind.
It really is impossible to devote your lockdown time to learning a new language or writing that great novel burning inside you when you have a young child (or several) to look after. Believe me, I know. I've tried doing that, even when we didn't have a pandemic!
So what can you and your children do when Australia is under quarantine and you're faced with the prospect of staying at home for two weeks and maybe even more? As Canberrans, we've already had an experience of some kind of lockdown this past summer, when our city was covered in the most hazardous smoke pollution in the world. We didn't clear the supermarket shelves of toilet paper back then but there were many days over the long summer school holidays when we were forced to stay indoors due to the terrible smoke outside. So Canberrans with children, we can do this! We can survive a lockdown with our children. And if you're stuck for ideas on what to do, here are a few to help you get through it all.
1. Read a book series together. There'll be plenty of time to share a favourite book series together with your children, such as Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree adventures, the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Hunger Games and His Dark Materials trilogies for older children, the Deltora Questseries, and The Wizard of Oz series (yes, there's actually more than one book!). Go to your local library or bookstore and find a favourite series of books or a collection of books that'll transport you to other worlds, places and times.
2. Play board games together. Get the kids together for some games fun. Monopoly, Hungry Hippos, Cluedo, Uno, Connect Four, The Game of Life, chess, checkers, draughts, Snakes and Ladders, Jenga, Trivial Pursuit, Operation, Mouse Trap- your choices are endless.
4. Get crafting. Get the kids painting, drawing, making, moulding, weaving, creating, and making. You'll find plenty of ideas to help you on the internet. You can also stock up on kids craft boxes and kids craft packs from stores such as Riot Art & Craft, Big W, Kmart and The Reject Shop.
Your kids will love making these. They're very simple to make. You can set it up in old pots and containers, or an old wheelbarrow or an old tyre or gumboots. You probably already have most of the things you need for a fairy or dinosaur garden in a pot such as an empty pot or container with drainage holes, high-quality potting soil, and some plants such as moss and succulents. You just need some pebbles, bark, twigs and leaves for decoration, and some fairy figurines and décor. Or, if you're making a dinosaur garden, then I'm sure your children will have toy dinosaurs lying around somewhere to add to their mini garden.
6. Get cooking. Bake cupcakes, bake a cake, make hot cross buns for Easter, bake some yummy cookies, make pizza...have fun in the kitchen and get cooking.
7. Get moving. Learn some super cool dance moves together (check out these excellent Move It Mob style dance videos for ideas), learn some yoga moves together, plan an obstacle course around the house and backyard, jump on your trampoline, throw a ball around...spend at least 30-60 minutes (or more) of every day during lockdown moving your bodies! And really, if you have an active child like mine, they'll be wanting to move around a lot!
8. Watch those DVDs. And don't forget ABC KIDS and ABC ME.
When you need a break, put on a movie for the kids to watch. Or gather together as a family and watch it. During this past summer when the world outside was choked in smoke, my son and I watched a lot of our Disney/Pixar DVDs such as The Lion King, Moana, Frozen, Monsters Inc, the How to Train Your Dragon series, and Toy Story.
There are also lots of great kids shows on ABC Kids and ABC Me that you can watch during lockdown. My son's favourites include Play School, Octonauts, Odd Squad, Horrible Histories, Deadly Pole to Pole, Operation Ouch, and of course, Bluey. In fact, I get lots of parenting tips and ideas from Bluey!
9. Play with your LEGO and other building and construction blocks.
The kids could spend the whole day or huge chunks of the day just building with their blocks. Let them.
10. Keep up the kids' literacy and numeracy skills.
Even if we're on lockdown and schools are closed, it's still important to keep our kids learning their basic academic skills. You can get Excel, Scholastic Learning Express and School Zone student workbooks from your local bookstore. Or subscribe to online learning programs such as Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds.
11. Begin a project or scientific investigation. Or learn a new language together.
Find out what your children's interests are and get them to work on a project or investigation with you, with their siblings or on their own. They may want to research dinosaurs, or sea creatures, or Ancient Egypt, or Knights of the Middle Ages, or insects in your backyard, or space, or the human body, or chemistry, or a country such as India. They may want to write and illustrate their own books or make their own little movies. They may even want to learn a new language. Check the internet for ideas, resources and free online learning programs.
12. Play in the backyard.
Let them play in the sandpit, the mudpit, explore the garden beds, search for mini-beasts, water the flowers, look after the herbs and vegetables, jump on the trampoline, draw with chalk on the cement, have a teddy bears' picnic, climb your trees, play a game of soccer (if your backyard is big enough), construct a fort, collect stones, and just enjoy playing in their backyard (or front yard). Your kids have an imagination. They can use it!
14. Get cleaning and clearing out your cupboards.
This is what we will definitely be doing during lockdown! Cleaning our house and clearing out all the cupboards of all our excess stuff such as toys and clothing that we can pack away and donate to Vinnies and other charities.
When Australia eventually goes into lockdown mode, we will have no choice but to stay inside our homes and await the quarantine period. For those of us with children, it will very likely be an extra stressful time, when being locked inside with energetic little ones for many days (and possibly weeks) will sorely test our tempers. But we can do this, Canberra! And yes, you can still get cracking on that long-awaited novel or binge watch your favourite NETFLIX series-but probably only at the end of your long day at home, when the kids are finally fast asleep in their beds!
What will you and your kids be doing during lockdown?