Health & Well-being

Lockdown life: 10 things to do while we all stay home

Parenting Place Things To Do In Lockdown

So here we all are again safely tucked up at home. Which is all very well if you’re an independent adult with a comfortable couch and a Netflix account, but what about those of us who are housebound with kiddos? Fellow parents, we’re going to need a plan. These are the days of ‘outside the box’ thinking and silver-lining optimism. Rather than being ‘stuck at home’ we have the opportunity – actually, the obligation – to hunker down and spend some quality time with our kids. As lovely as that sounds in theory, most parents agree that some creative thinking and entertainment strategies would be helpful right now. Here are ten things for you to try at your place.

1. A new routine

Kids thrive on routine and school-aged children are used to following a timetable. While we’re in lockdown, it can help to create a new ‘at-home’ schedule. Write it up on a blackboard or stick it to the fridge – kids love to know what is happening next and having some structure will help curb the potential overwhelm for parents looking at a long day ahead. Structure the day in blocks of time. Schedule the things kids are already familiar with from their school day – ‘news’, morning tea, lunch time, fitness, spelling, SSR (as in Sustained Silent Reading, like at primary school in the 80s. Not sure if it’s still a thing. If not, now’s a good time to bring it back!). Inject some fun and surprises, and plenty of things to look forward to.

2. Take it outside

We may be at home but we don’t need to be stuck inside 24/7. Get plenty of fresh air – outside in the garden or walking around the neighbourhood. Exercise, a change of scenery, some vitamin D – there are loads of reasons why regular time outside is good for the whole family. Going outside also allows us a moment to reset – to press pause on the pressure of bubble life – which can really help enhance the atmosphere when you go back inside.

3. Do something for others

By definition, self-isolation and social distancing are pretty inward-focused activities. There are still plenty of things we can do for others though, and great opportunities to get our kids thinking about our neighbours, the wider community, even the global village. You could do a mail-box drop of hand-written notes of drawings. You could phone your neighbours, especially the elderly, and see if anyone needs anything dropped off via contactless delivery. Maybe you could look up a charity helping those in need during lockdowns in New Zealand, or an organisation sending aid to those in crisis right now on the other side of the world, and get the kids involved in making a donation.

4. Phone a friend

Texts are great but a quick phone call to a friend or family member, just to say ‘Hi’ and ‘Thinking of you’ can mean more than we’ll ever now. Kids can be great at phone calls – they’ll get excited about a chance to use your phone, and who doesn’t love a cute kiddo voice on the other end of the line? You could schedule a daily ‘phone a friend’ and catch up with people you may not have chatted to for ages in the midst of busy ‘normal’ life. Kids could check in with their classmates too.

5. Start a project

Been putting off that intricate kitset model the grandparents gave your kids for Christmas? Or the ‘learn to crochet’ kit that’s been sitting in the cupboard for years? Now’s the time! I just set my kids up creating a photo album using an online photo processing company – a time-consuming project I’d been unable to get to in ‘normal life’, but now it’s keeping my kids occupied, hopefully for ages.

While this may be a great opportunity for spending lots of time together, parents need not feel the pressure to entertain their kids 24/7.

6. Free time

While this may be a great opportunity for spending lots of time together, parents need not feel the pressure to entertain their kids 24/7. It’s good for our kids to be able to play/create/draw/write on their own, inspired by their own imagination and creativity. Allow time in the day where kids know it’s their turn to come up with their own entertainment and are free to choose their activity. Supervise, check-in and show interest absolutely, but feel free to leave them to it – allowing our kids space for unstructured and independent play is of benefit to the whole household.

7. Use technology

Screens can get a bad rap in parenting, and fair enough, but technology really steps up as our friend in this season of clipped wings. There are endless options for educational apps, website and podcasts out there – some your kids will be familiar with from school and may even have accounts that could open up and continue their learning with at home. And for the perfect combination of technology and hands-on learning, check out Nanogirl’s lab and try one of her brilliant STEM learning projects.

8. Scrapbook it

We are living in a very interesting time. As a family, you could document your experience of COVID-19 with a scrapbook or journal. Scrapbooking, journaling or documenting the events from their own perspective is a valuable experience for children, providing limitless learning opportunities – and a fascinating memoir for future reference

9. Plant a garden

Time on your hands at home is conducive with gardening. Get the kids involved – whether it’s planting a bed of spring vegetables or potting up some colourful flowers or herbs, there are plenty of ways to while away the hours in the garden.

10. Sort, tidy, declutter and give

Oh yes, time at home is perfect for decluttering! That cupboard you’ve been ignoring, those wardrobes full of clothes that no longer fit the kids, that junk drawer overflowing with, err, junk. It’s time! Make it a team effort and enlist the help of the kids to sort, tidy, donate and clean. Loads of learning opportunities here too – aside from the feel-good vibes of tidy spaces, you could have some interesting conversations with your kids about consumerism, the difference between needs and wants, ethical shopping/manufacturing and sharing.

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam is a passionate communicator, especially on topics relating to families. After 20 years in Auckland working mainly in publishing, Ellie now lives in Northland, with her husband and their three daughters, where she works from home as content editor for Parenting Place. Ellie writes with hope and humour, inspired by the goal of encouraging parents everywhere in the vital work they are doing raising our precious tamariki.


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