Tips to occupy your kids at home during COVID-19 self-isolation

Recently, our president announced that schools would be closed until Easter (hopefully) and with that, many of us have scrambled to make plans to have the kids at home. For some, this is a matter of juggling working from home with kids thrown into the mix, which can seem almost impossible without sticking them in front of the TV for hours on end. For others, this decision has been more difficult to work out and we just want to say that our hearts are fairly sore to think about how tough this is for you.

That’s why we want to do our bit to help. If your kids are home with you or another caregiver and you can’t go out to your usual kiddy haunts and want to avoid Coronavirus cabin fever, then these tips are sure to do the trick.

But first, here’s why we’re staying close to home for 2 weeks

As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads, a form of self-isolation is a clever way of slowing the infection rate. It doesn’t stop us from getting the virus ever, but it could prevent everyone from getting it all at once. Which would be a worse kind of disaster. That’s why, for around 2 weeks, we’ve been asked to keep our worlds a little smaller than usual. That’s why we have to keep our kids home from school and stay home as much as we can.

It’s not forever, but it can feel that way when your kids are muttering, ‘I’m boreddddd’ and looking longingly at every surface of your house that they could cover in koki. It’s a terrifying moment.

Here’s how you can avoid the great koki wall disaster of 2020:

Start on the same page

It can be challenging to chat to your kids about why they’re not at school and why their routine is out the window, whether you’re dealing with toddlers, pre-teens or teenagers… But it’s so important. Our advice is to have a family pow-wow and speak truthfully about what’s happening. And while you’re all together, maybe chat about hygiene so they’re up to speed on washing hands and coughing or sneezing into their ‘cough pockets’ (cute talk for the crook of their elbows). Giving your kids a sense of control, such as over their personal hygiene, can actually help them manage any fear they have over this situation.

Who knew that washing your hands could be a child’s equivalent to a sword that slays dragons?

Create a schedule

What your schedule looks like will depend on the age of your progeny, but make no mistake. A schedule is vital to the survival of a parent’s sanity. You can ask your school, other parents from the school, or just Google an age-appropriate schedule. You can even adapt the example you find so that it suits your needs. For instance, if you’re working from home, you can build in some electronics or TV time at the time of day when you’re at your most productive. This way, you can get work done while they’re quietly occupied.

A great example of this is from 1 working mom who told us that she set her preschool-aged kids (yes, multiple littlies) a craft that they could do unsupervised (no scissors or glue) and then devoted that portion of time to her emails and Google Hangout meetings. Apparently, she had a more productive morning than she would’ve at the office. Go figure.

The value of screen time 

Obvs it’s not great for little humans to stay on screens all the time, and trust us… The novelty will wear off quite quickly. So make it special. Choose educational games and shows (even ones about hygiene and handwashing on YouTube are great) and generally make it seem like a special part of your kid’s day so that they don’t get bored and start hunting around for those kokis we talked about earlier.

The value of going outside

We’ve been advised to stay away from crowds and to keep a meter between us and the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t go outside at all. So go for a walk with the family, send the kids out into the garden to play, and generally encourage them to be physically active.

Given that exercise eases frustration and boredom, especially for kids, you might want to set up an obstacle course in the garden or put the music on and get everyone in on a little dance party in the lounge.

Don’t forget about alone time

We’re not experts on childcare (we prefer being experts in saving you a bundle every month on your insurance) but we’ve spoken to enough parents to know that even little kids need alone time. And you might be so wrapped up in keeping them occupied that you might’ve forgotten to insert some alone time into their schedule. What could also be pretty cool is to break the alone time with a ‘reconnection ritual’, which is sort of gobbledygook talk to breaking the alone time with some together time, like a sit-down meal or activity that includes you (like baking biscuits or going for a walk).

Do it and thank us later.

Do video calls to family and friends

Your kids are used to highly social environments and you can lift their spirits by staying connected to their friends and family. We miss our royal compatriots when they go away on business or holidays, and have to hold ourselves back from calling them from the office… So we can only imagine how much your kids will miss their teachers and friends. Why not message key figures in your kids’ lives to find out if you can do a video chat for 5 minutes? It’s something to look forward to, gives them someone else to talk to, and (crucially) is something else to pen into their schedule.

We hope these tips help you survive the next little while with your kids at home, and if you’re able to stay home during this time, then we wish you all the best. If you’re not able to stay home, then we hope these tips will help the caregiver you’ve entrusted with your precious cargo and give you more peace of mind that they’re happy and well cared for.
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