Hopefully you took some time over the weekend to make a plan, routine, schedule, or came up with a general idea for how you want your home to run over the next few weeks. I hope you took some time to breathe and have a little fun. If not, back up and read my earlier post.
Now that you have a framework for your days at home, here are some easy things you can do with your kids to keep them active, engaged, and making your home a fun place to be!
There are many educational websites and apps that are offering free access due to widespread school closures. Here is a link that is being updated regularly. Some of my tried-and-true favorites are:
Splash Math (this is what I use for a math curriculum for all my kids until 3rd grade)
Many of us will still need to work, clean, or have a moment to go to the bathroom alone, so providing for independent play is crucial. I keep “quiet time” boxes on hand that are only allowed to be opened when mama needs a few minutes to focus (or shower). Shoebox-size plastic containers work perfectly!
For the record, I work in and outside of the home and my husband works full time from home. My work hours are thankfully quite flexible, and a lot of my work is done at 5am before anyone wakes up. These boxes as well as the websites listed above are a life saver when I have work to do during the day.
- Playdoh (I bought this starter kit)
- Simple puzzles
- Cutting/Coloring (crayons, scissors, and these printables)
- Magnatiles (we had magnatiles available to play with anytime, but the kids had lost interest in them, until they became available only during quiet time!)
- Lego or Lego Duplo (a box of blocks would be fine, or for older kids you can create a Lego Masters challenge based on the new TV show. Offer up an assigned build, set a timer, and make it a competition!)
- Paint (with water for younger kids or canvas and acrylic paints for older kids)
- Collage/Dream Board (old magazines, scissors, and glue)
- Save a giant cardboard box, let smaller children get inside with markers or crayons and color. My kids have also been known to put a pillow and blankets inside a cardboard box for a mini-campout. They’ll read, watch tv, or play…in a box. It’s like magic.
In addition to these quiet time activities, you can create theme days. On Pirate day, everyone dresses and talks like a pirate and you can watch pirate movies/tv shows. St. Patrick’s Day is perfect for learning about Ireland, watching documentaries, and cooking Irish food.
Water play is a perfect reset for any bad day. You know how you feel so much better after a warm bath? Kids do too. We have a bath time anytime policy at our house! Younger kids like to splash around and play with their toys while my older ones will just soak and read a book. Another idea is to fill your kitchen sink with water and see what floats! My younger boys will play for a solid hour with just a few toys in the kitchen sink filled with water.
If the weather cooperates, you can send the kids outside with bubbles, a box of bird seed and some buckets and shovels, or sidewalk chalk.
Assign mini research projects to older kids (but don’t call them “research projects” or they’ll never agree to doing them!). Tell them you want to know more about tornadoes or dinosaurs or viruses and that they can use Netflix documentaries, the internet, or books to find out more. Have the kids tell you what they learned at dinner. Not only will they learn something (and maybe you will, too!), but it provides dinnertime conversation beyond fart jokes and sibling bickering.
This is the perfect chance to host a living room campout night! Every Friday at our house the boys camp out in the living room. They drag in all their pillows and blankets, pile them on the furniture and in the floor, and we eat pizza while watching a movie. Once mom and dad go to bed, the older boys get to stay up and eat popcorn while watching tv. It’s a tradition we started when our third was born. My husband agreed to sleep on the couch and supervise so I could get a decent night’s sleep with a newborn (ha!). The boys loved it so much, “campout night” has been going strong now for nearly eight years.