Do you know how long it takes for kids to put a tent up in the backyard on their own?
Or the time it takes for them to watch a documentary on National Geographic and then write down five facts they learned; five facts they found interesting and a few lines about what they thought of it?
In my experience as a full-time working mum of a 10 and 11-year-old, it's a good chunk of your day ... possibly even 4-5 hours worth if you pack them a lunch to eat in said tent.
Parents, you're welcome.
We're almost two weeks deep into the four-week, alert level four Covid-19 lockdown. Kristin Macfarlane gives some ideas on keeping kids entertained and stimulated while we're isolating.
Start a Covid-19 lockdown diary
This may not sound that appealing to the sprogs but let's be honest, what we are going through is going to be a major part of history so why not keep a diary so that they, their children and grandchildren etc can look back on it in years to come? If a daily diary is too much, make it a weekly one. In my house, the children have their own notebooks to write in - but a diary can be so many things today. It can be a daily video diary, wrapping up their thoughts each day, or a weekly one, whatever suits your own family's situation. And what kid doesn't enjoy making videos? I have set up personal email addresses for my children that I'll control until they're older and it's where I send memorable moments, photos and videos. That's also where I'll send their video diaries as well.
Create a home scavenger hunt.
This can be as creative as you want it to be and can be made to be as age appropriate, as you need. For maximum time-consuming potential, start the hunt inside the home before heading outside. List items to find, such as 'a character eating in a book', 'someone sleeping in a book' and/or a superhero in a book. Other examples of searchable quests: Something you can turn, that is bumpy, is metal, is round, you can twist etc can be added to finding items of certain colours. You could also empty a handbag and list contents from that. Outside, you can search for animals and insects, items that feel a certain way or look a certain way. Depending on their ages, you could also get the children to take photos of each find and at the end, create a visual poster or slideshow of their hunt.
If your kids love technology, you don't always have to fight it. In fact, why not embrace it?
Online coding is a great way for kids to be creative, problem solve and stimulate the mind while also creating their own video games, animations and stories through computer science. It might seem a foreign language to some parents but it's like a second language to children today. There are plenty of online coding websites to join, for children of all ages, and can be done on devices, laptops and computers. You can purchase coding robots to make coding more interactive.
Setting up a tent:
No, I wasn't joking about the tent thing. It may seem like a monotonous job but for a child, the task can be challenging and mentally stimulating, involving a lot of thinking, patience and hand-eye coordination. Obviously a parent's involvement will depend on the type of tent you have at home, as well as the age of the kids but with the weather being the way it has in recent days, it can provide variety for outside play once it's up. We've done this task at my house - they chose the location and set it up all on their own, now they've got an outdoor play house where they play board games, read, wrestle, pretend to be camping and laugh - and so far, after about five days there haven't been any tears. Winning.
Create a road/town for toy cars/dolls:
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With some simple duct tape you can create the dream road for toy cars on your floor, driveway or even grass. Using the tape as the outside of the roads, children can help plan or create their own road themselves, depending on age, running through different rooms of the house or anywhere and everywhere outside. I haven't tried this myself yet but I can imagine it providing plenty of hours of entertainment for lovers of push cars, remote control cars and even dolls or shopping enthusiasts if you create spaces for stores and houses on your road or town as well. Parents helping may well enjoy creating it just as much as the children do.