Running out of ideas to keep your family busy while cooped up at home? We've rounded up some of our favorite family-friendly activities to help pass the time (and keep everyone sane!) while social distancing.
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As schools and offices across the country close to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many parents find themselves at home with restless children. And with social distancing taking playdates off the table, keeping everyone entertained can seem like a daunting task (especially if you are trying to work from home!). Many of us are parents here at MamaSezz and are in the thick of it with you so we rounded up some of our favorite ideas and resources for family fun...while we’re all stuck at home.
Attend a baby and me exercise class virtually.
Were you going to a baby and me yoga class in your area? Keep it going from home. Your local studio might be streaming classes now to keep in line with coronavirus precautions. Check out their websites to find out if they're offering anything virtual. If they’re not, no worries. YouTube has a bunch of baby and me yoga and exercise videos if you search “mom and baby yoga” or “mom and baby workout.”
Check out Baby Play Hacks
A fantastic resource for parents with little ones, Baby Play Hacks breaks up activities by age ranges (0-3 months, 3-6 months, and so on) so you can find age-appropriate things for your little one.
Get outside if you can!
One of the best ways to escape the “cabin fever” we’re all feeling is to step outside. Not to mention, Vitamin D (from the sun!) is more important than ever. Go for a walk with your baby, or simply sit in the yard if you have one and let them feel the grass. Take their socks off if it’s warm enough to feel the ground beneath their feet. Sensory experiences are great for baby’s expanding brain and so fun for parents to watch.
Babies go crazy for this! And it’s also good for their development, helping them with visual tracking, gross and fine motor development, hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, and more!
Read with your babies
No time like the present to instill the love of reading in your little one. Reading is so wonderful for babies -- it helps with language development, enhances memories, boosts future vocabulary, promotes bonding and so much more! Here are some baby books to add to your nursery bookshelves. You can also just read to them whatever you're reading - they love to hear the changing cadence of your voice!
From printables to educational shows, PBS kids is a super helpful free resource for parents of pre-school aged kiddos.
Make your own play dough
A kid-favorite for generations, play dough is as fun to make as it is to play with. This easy colored play dough recipe lasts 3 months and doesn’t stain hands! And you’ve most likely got all the ingredients in your pantry already.
Shaving cream play
Sometimes, you just have to get messy! Shaving cream is a great inexpensive tool for sensory play with your toddler or preschooler. Grab a mirror, a paint brush, and a can of shaving cream and your tot can “paint” the shaving cream on the mirror. Don’t have a paint brush? Finger painting works well here, too. Here are detailed instructions for shaving cream play.
Rotate toys to keep things fresh
One mom of an almost 4 year old gave us this pro tip! Too many toys at once makes it hard for children to focus and can lead to boredom with toys. Her fix? Rotate toys in and out every few days to make their favorites feel novel and exciting.
Take a home safari with the Cincinnati Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting virtual home safaris every day right now while they’re closed due to COVID-19. The zookeepers focus on a different animal every day and include at-home activities for your kiddos to complete.
Conduct science experiments
Budding scientist at home? Here are 63 science experiments you can do with your kids -- using household products!
Create a treasure hunt
This can be indoors or outdoors, or a combo of both! A treasure hunt is a fun way to get kids to use their brains AND their bodies. Leave clues around the house and/or yard and lead to a prize in the end. Here are some excellent treasure hunt riddle ideas to get your creative juices flowing as you come up with clues.
Check out Busy Toddlers and Days with Grey
Speaking of treasure, Busy Toddlers and Days with Grey are two troves for parents in need of activities to break up the day with their smaller children. Filled with tons of advice for easy activities you can do at home, most of the activities use things you already own (yay!). Here’s Busy Toddler’s helpful PDF of 35 things to do at home during quarantine.
Have a dance party
Get a little blood flowing first thing in the morning with a family dance party! Turn on your favorite tuns and dance it out, or if you need to get some work done, let your kids get down to this YouTube dance party for kids.
Let them build forts
And let them do it themselves, if you can, says David Sobel, author of Children’s Special Places: Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood. According to Sobel, building forts is driven by a child’s desire to create their own special place. Whether it’s with sofa cushions and blankets in the living room, or sticks and branches outside, encouraging fort building is a good way for your kid to enjoy some stimulating independent play and for parents to get some time to themselves.
Drawing and coloring
Working from home? Art is another way to spend quiet time and can be done in groups, with parents, or on their own. Get drawing tutorials and printable coloring pages for your kids from supercoloring.com.
Try math games
Keep their skills sharp and make math fun with the endless games and quizzes on CoolMath4Kids. Best for kids kindergarten through 6th grade.
Virtual museum tour
Looking to give your kiddo a dash of culture? Hit up MetKids for an online adventure -- from virtual museum tours to hopping in the virtual “Time Machine” and exploring art by time period, region, or topic. These 12 famous museums are also offering up free virtual tours right now.
Write to a pen pal
Are your kids missing playdates? Yes, you can definitely FaceTime (in fact, we highly recommend it as it’s nice to see those familiar faces), but now is also the perfect time to encourage good old fashioned letter writing. Not only is this a wonderful “quiet time” activity, but it’ll help keep your kid’s spelling and vocabulary fresh while staying connected to the friends they're missing. Plus, nothing beats the excitement of receiving real live snail mail, am I right?
Teach home economics
If you can, try not to worry too much about your kids falling behind while they’re home from school. The truth is, kids are constantly learning and they don’t need to sit in a desk to do so. Use some of this time to show them some practical life skills: how to patch a hole in their janes, sew a button, cook a simple family meal (try these family-friendly plant-based recipes), etc.
Start a garden
Having a long-term project can help keep your teen occupied during this stressful time. You don’t need a big yard to start a garden. You can start small with simple herbs like basil and rosemary. And now is the perfect time to get seedlings started. Not only is it the beginning of spring, but you’ve got time on your hands. Get started with this video tutorial with some great spring gardening beginner tips (plus 6 mistakes to avoid).
Have a “spa day”
In uncertain times, keeping a calm environment at home is key for the well-being of everyone. Want to help your teen relax? Try an at home spa day! Make face masks (here are 5 of our favorite plant-based face mask recipes), give them space to enjoy a bath, light some candles or put out some LED tea lights, drink spa water (just chilled water with slices of lemon or cucumbers), do a foot soak, put on a relaxing playlist from Spotify -- the works.
Whip out those popcorn kernels (don't forget to sprinkle on some nutritional yeast!) and grab your coziest blankets for a family night on the couch watching one of your favorite movies. Here are some family-friendly movies to stream on Netflix.
Or watch a broadway musical digitally, for free!
Have dinner and a show...from the couch! You can stream some of the best of Broadway right now. These streaming services are free for a limited time only so get on it!
Bust out the board games
If there was ever a time to instate a family game night, it’s now. Here are some great game night ideas.
Baking as a family is both calming (which we all need right now) and rewarding because there’s a tasty treat at the end. And it can be done with kids of all ages. These fudgy vegan brownies are a kid favorite. Or if baking's not your strong suit, whip up these 4 ingredient no bake oatmeal cookies. No refined sugar!
Go for a hike
If you can, get outside as a family. Drive to a nearby trail or simply walk around the neighborhood after dinner and breathe in that fresh air.
Take an online class together
From calligraphy to cake decorating, Brit + Co has an awesome list of discounted online courses you can take, many of which would make for an interesting family activity for those with older kids.
Try a story podcast
If you’re trying to limit screen time, try enjoying a podcast together as a family. Make it like a movie night with snacks and blanket forts in the living room as you cozy in to listen. Here are 16 family-friendly podcasts to stream at home.
You're doing great
We know these are stressful times for many. We ask you please give yourself grace - you're doing your best in an unprecedented situation. Despite all the uncertainty you may be feeling, your kids just might look back on this time fondly because you made them feel safe and relaxed at home. You've got this and you're doing great.
By Ali Brown
Ali is a mom, wife, and nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor. She has her Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.