I feel like we parents are in the trenches right now – things are tricky. It will get better, but until that happens, we should do whatever is needed to maintain both our sanity and the health and safety of our children. And it helps if everyone is happy most of the time, too!
The Government is currently asking us to stay home with the kids as much as possible. I have been working from home and, except for walks and backyard excursions, my kids have been either home or with their childminder – that’s it.
We are keeping a social contact diary, so we know who they come into contact with every day. It’s not that I’m terribly worried about my kids catching COVID-19; I’m worried that they will pass the virus on to someone more vulnerable. Limiting their contact with the outside world – and mine, and my husband’s – is really essential right now.
So, what can you do when you’re stuck in the house all day with the kids and they’re driving you insane?
I tend to let mine wreck things. This approach works for me, but it's not for everyone. I will put my kids in a room with some crayons and paper, some kinetic sand, Play Doh, and/or a few big puzzles and let them go to work. I let them run around our enclosed back yard. I put paints and sidewalk chalk outside with them.
As we travel internationally to visit family every other year, I’m always stocking up on crafty things and small toys and books when they’re on sale. I keep them in a cupboard in our laundry room and, during long-haul flights, I’ll bring out one or two items at a time to help keep them busy. These items, now that we’re all home, have been making an appearance. For craft projects, I like to keep the following on hand:
I regularly go through Pinterest to find inspiration on things like birthday cakes, interior design and kids’ crafts. Pinterest can be a great resource, but the instructions and recipes aren’t always – let’s say – achievable for the average parent. Here are a few fun crafts and experiments that definitely work and mostly use things found around the house. I’ve specifically left out projects I know are going to cause a massive mess or big fights. Who needs that right now?
Homemade bird feeders
These homemade bird feeders are fun and easy to make – even toddlers can partake. To up your bird feeder game, you can make a chart to keep track of all the different types of birds you find in your backyard. Educational and fun!
Magic milk science experiment
Chances are, you still have milk in the house. I hate food waste, so I would try this with milk that’s nearly gone off. It will kill at least 15 minutes. You can set this up outside and the kids can make a witches potion, adding in leaves, rocks – whatever they like.
Dinosaur handprint cards
I love these cute little handprint cards! It’s a great activity for kids aged two and up. Can you imagine how happy they would make a grandparent or older relative they can’t physically spend time with right now? These are a great way to keep the kids busy for a while and cheer someone up who’s in isolation.
Ladybird garden rocks
Being stuck at home is a great excuse to get some gardening done – and, luckily, it’s the right time of year to start sowing seeds and preparing garden patches. The kids can help beautify your garden by painting these cute little rocks.
No-sew sock bunnies
I’m terrible at sewing, but these little guys are a great way to repurpose single socks you just can’t find the match to. My two-year-old especially loves her bunny, though it took a lot of help for her to make it. This is great for four-year-olds and up.
If you’re desperate, this recipe for homemade paint can help you. Just water, flour and a few other bits and you’re all finger painting. Follow this activity with a fun (ahem, necessary) bubble bath and you’ve killed at least an hour.
Egg carton animals
This craft is a great activity for using up egg cartons that would otherwise go into the recycling. The important thing to remember, with all of these activities, is that kids don’t always follow directions. Let them be creative and take the lead, as long as they aren’t destroying your house or being dangerous. It’s all about passing the time and making memories, right?