These days, most children are hooked on technology. With social distancing recommendations and shelter-in-place orders becoming our new normal, it’s a challenge to keep kids off electronics. They’re on Zoom video conferencing for virtual school, completing assignments on the web, playing with apps on their tablets, and TV has become a way to pass #quarantinelife.
That’s why many parents are opting for less screen time and more family time, turning to fun playtime ideas that don’t involve any technology. According to an article I recently read on CNN.com, clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere considers hobbies to be crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this time of uncertainty and instability, and a world and existence we no longer recognize, people need an anchor to familiarity and what once brought them comfort, stability, safety, and happiness,” Gardere says.
Whether it’s sports, imaginative play, or arts and crafts, these simple pleasures can help calm kids’ anxiety and it’s also a great way to spend some quality time together as a family.
If you’re looking for new ways to entertain your children, here are some tech-free ideas to beat the boredom.
- Board games: Dig out those board games from the closet and have fun playing together.
- Puzzles: My youngest daughter loves doing puzzles, so this is a great option for her. Sometimes she’ll do them by herself, and other times we sit down and do it together.
- Reading: If your kids love to read, consider revisiting your home library for some books they may be interested in or order a couple of new ones online.
- Science experiments: I recently saw an activity from Arm & Hammer where they filled a jar with water, added 3-4 drops of food coloring, some vinegar and baking soda. Then you throw in a few buttons and watch as they rise out of the jar. Of course, you can also make slime, which is always a big hit with kids!
- Plant a garden: A few weeks ago, we planted a butterfly garden and it was so much fun. We’ve been watering it, watching the flowers bloom, and admiring the butterflies.
- Water play: If you have a pool, great! If not, run around in the sprinkler or soak each other with the hose. Add some extra fun by blowing bubbles!
- Go camping: Set up a campsite in your own backyard and create your very own adventure. Don’t want to go outside? Just set up a tent in your living room, complete with flashlights, sleeping bags and stuffed animals.
- Scavenger hunt: This is a fun option you can do in your own backyard or around the neighborhood. Go on Pinterest or just Google “kids scavenger hunt” and you’ll find printables that you can use to search for items, such as bug, tree, stop sign, fence, leaf and rock.
- Have a picnic: Our family loves to have picnics in the park. But since we can’t go to the park right now, we’ll just get creative with a beach blanket, some sandwiches and fruit in a basket, and enjoy some Vitamin D.
- Legos: With so many cool Lego options, this is always a great way to stimulate your brain while having some fun.
- Play kitchen or restaurant: My girls have a little kitchen in their playroom and they just love whipping up something to bring me while I work in my home office or pretending to take my dining order!
- Have a sleepover — in your living room: Have some fun by doing something out of the ordinary. This weekend grab your sleeping bags or an air mattress and head to the living room for the night.
- Hide and seek: My husband and I used to play hide and seek with the girls all the time, so maybe this is something we need to start doing again.
- Color, draw or paint: You can use watercolors, finger paints or any other materials you have available in your home to create works of art. If you’re going to get messy put on an apron or go outside. Then hang up your creations and create a gallery of art using washi tape.
- Play dress-up: Put on a princess costume, save the world with a doctor’s coat, or dress up as your favorite super hero.
- Scrapbook: Put that old stash of embellishments and scraps of paper to good use by creating a page (or an entire album) to showcase some of your quarantine adventures.
- Sidewalk chalk: Grab some chalk and draw some cool word art all around the sidewalk. You can even draw a hopscotch pattern!
- Bake: My daughters love to bake with me. Last week, we made chocolate chip cookies and this week we made homemade pizzas.
- Dance party: Play some lively music and just let the rhythm move you. Don’t be afraid to get really silly! I promise your kids will love it.
- Spa day: Have some fun with an at-home mani-pedi or put on a face mask while listening to soothing spa music.
- Build a fort: Throw some sheets or blankets over a couple of stools, grab some pillows and stuffed animals, and you’re all set!
- Walk or jog: Take a stroll or break a sweat while jogging around the neighborhood.
- Play ball: Grab any ball and play outside or do some fun tricks by juggling a soccer ball with your knees.
- Fun on wheels: Go bike riding, skating, or hop on a scooter and find an area with little to no traffic.
I hope you found these ideas helpful. While some screen time is perfectly fine, it’s a good idea to set some boundaries so children can find other creative ways to entertain themselves during this time of social distancing. Also, try to focus on the positive: The extra time you get to spend together!