With dizzying speed, schools, restaurants, and businesses in New York and around the country have closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Such a dramatic and sudden change would have seemed unfathomable a mere two weeks ago.
Let’s face it: We’re all disoriented. We’re dealing with developments that change moment-to-moment. The virus and its economic fallout have created uncertainties and fueled anxieties. On top of all that, parents now have their children home with them all day.
How can parents keep their children productively engaged at home? With some creativity and a plan, parents can make the most of this challenging time—and even introduce fun and joy into hunkering down.
It’s the first rule of parenting, and it’s especially critical now. Schools’ shift to online learning can help. Structure your children’s day like any other school day—with a schedule that includes regular waking and bedtimes, time for school learning, meals, breaks, homework, and recreation.
Your children will want to stay connected with their friends, and they’ll do a lot more of that virtually. Still, our phones can all too easily keep us hooked on news and social media, which can amplify everyone’s anxiety right now. Put a limit on screen time. Set rules for cell phone usage.
Choose what kinds and how much media your children consume. Common Sense Media provides reviews that can help you decide what you want your children to watch.
Remember Monopoly? Have you or your kids played cards lately? What about Scrabble? Use this time to bring out some old favorites.
Need some ideas? Check out 30 Best Board Games of All Time.
While after-school programs are on hiatus, use that time to create arts and crafts. The internet is chock full of ideas for projects parents can do with their children at home. Here are a few resources:
PBS created a daily newsletter that provides activity ideas and tips to keep kids engaged while they’re at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
With everyone gathered at home, everyone will need to eat. Hunker-down time is a perfect time to channel everyone’s creativity into cooking together.
Assign your children cooking or prep tasks. Ask them what they’d like to make. Search the internet for new dishes.
Need some inspiration? Tune into Netflix’s Big Family Cooking Showdown.
Staying cooped up in an apartment or house all day can be confining. Get outside with your children. Take walks and breathe in fresh air. Bring a jump rope to the park to let your kids expend excess energy. Keep a safe distance from others as experts recommend.
Chances are your children know the online world better than we do. What are the latest and best exercise videos and apps? What are the coolest science experiments you can conduct at home? What kinds of games can all of you play together?
Ask your children. Listen and take their suggestions. You may get through this difficult period with a stronger bond and good memories.
In the meantime, stay safe.