It has been just a few days that my kids are home bound, and I’m already missing school. The 4.30am alarm doesn’t seem that harsh a sound anymore. I mean, it would mean I’d have the better part of the morning to myself, to do whatever I please and meet whomsoever I want. Since most of my friends are also in the same boat as me, that’s a moot point now, isn’t it?
My girls were screaming bloody murder this morning over some silly DIY kit that each assumed was their own and therefore totally unacceptable to share with the sibling. Note to self, and to all others interested: always buy interesting stuff, cute stuff, easy stuff in multiples. They are all available a dime a dozen at House of Fashion or any of the other big departmental stores, so it’s just a matter of buying enough to bore your kids of it for life!
Those whose kids are having online tutoring from school or have received homework packs from schools, rejoice! Your kids will be occupied, albeit grumblingly for at least an hour, hour and a half almost daily. There are various forwards doing the rounds, on multiple avenues to keep the kids occupied during this period of shutdown. You have museums providing free virtual tours, comic book companies providing free subscription for a month, online e-learning portals distributing free worksheets, and so on. I realized that all in all, this lockdown would definitely increase the screen time of our kids that we’ve so far been stringently trying to reduce.
So the kids and I decided to create a schedule wherein we try to maintain some semblance to normality by sticking to the set screen plan, while also finding various avenues to keep them entertained. I have listed a few options here below that have so far worked in my household. This might not work with all kids and all households, but can definitely be a starting point. I have two daughters, age 9 and 11, and the husband is also working from home now. And yes, this lockdown can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining, but we can definitely come up with ways to battle the sheer boredom, exhaustion, irritation and at times, even the ennui that it brings.
- Do not fall into the sleep trap. It might initially seem heavenly and liberating to hit the snooze button and continue sleeping, especially if the entire household is at home, but do refrain from overdoing this. If you wake up at 5am during school days, its fine to wake up by 7am. Try not to sleep until 9am and 10am. Wake the kids up too by 8am. It’s always good to stick to some routine even in these conditions. Similarly, just because we are at home, on self-quarantine, doesn’t mean that we need to watch all the movies on Netflix and sleep late every night. It’s good to have some discipline in maintaining our sleeping and waking up times. Trust me, this will singularly make the transition into normal life much easier.
- Allot a half an hour to some exercise which involves the kids too. Be it a few minutes of simple stretches, or skipping, or even walking within the house. One hot favorite at my house is to play some foot tapping dance music and let your hair down and dance like no one is watching. The kids might be initially taken aback with this new avatar of mommy, but they’ll also enjoy this. Another option could be a simple game of catching a ball. Rotate your positions as you throw a ball, just to keep the adrenalin pumping and the game from getting boring.
- Introduce the kids to the games that we played as kids, like hopscotch or even traditional games. If you have a few marbles, you can get them to play with that. You can spend the afternoon holding a marathon monopoly session. And if your household is anything like mine, also be prepared for some indoor football that might involve a few broken vases and knocked artefacts, along with shattered photo frames.
- This would be a god time to get the kids involved in some gardening. They can water the pots/garden, as well as get their hand dirty by digging into the soil and planting something new. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to score some soil and pots, in case you don’t already have them. You can reuse old coffee mugs or tea cups into fancy new flower pots. The kids can start with a few mustard or fenugreek seeds. Certain supermarkets also have small bio pots having basil, oregano, mint and other herbs. Else when you buy spinach, or coriander or other greens, you can consider replanting stems that might have a bit of the root growing in them.
- It started off as a meme, where a mom says instead of washing your hands every ten minutes with soap or using the hand sanitizer, just go and wash a couple of dishes in the kitchen sink. But truth be told, that’s not a bad idea. You can get the kids involved in a competition of sorts to wash a couple of dishes, at least the ones that they have used every few minutes. You can also get them to sweep the room with a broom in case they are willing. However, be warned that they might take way too long and clean all those corners that might have never seen a brush or a broom in forever! They would also most likely enjoy raking the garden. You can perhaps give them some autonomy in rearranging their shelves with a little bit of supervision. They can assist in drying the clothes and cleaning the table before and after meals.
- Get the kids involved in the kitchen too. They can help with the prepping of veggies, by washing and peeling the skins. Slightly older children can also help in grating and chopping veggies. Quarantine time means the entire family is stuck indoors. So this also means a lot of snacking. Do try to make simple snacks at home that involves the use of minimal ingredients, because, this lockdown period also spells austerity. With long curfews and mad rushes in the supermarket, it makes no sense to waste precious raw ingredients. A quick search on google would yield many two or three ingredient cookies and cakes. The kids can also be involved in this, be it beating the eggs, or the batter, or rolling the dough into cookies. Pro tip: Try to get the kids to roll marble sized balls to make into cookies. Not only are these cuter, they are also a good way to keep the kids occupied longer.
These are just a few tips to keep the children engaged during this lockdown period, because the entire day has just too many hours to just be doing only school work, or reading books. While these ideas might keep them occupied for a while and away from the PlayStation or the X-Box or the iPad, by no means can these be comprehensive. Also, with rising boredom and frustration, kids might also get irritated. So in case they do want to watch Netflix or play video games, just let them. These are testing times, and how your child is kept occupied now is by no means a judgment on you as a parent. Trust me, mommy, you also require some time to unwind and chill during this trying time, just so that you can cherish the time that you spend with the kids more.