9 Ways to Occupy Your Kids at Home
With Hollywood adhering to California’s directive to employ “Safer at Home” methods to fight COVID-19, we now find ourselves with plenty of at-home time with our kids. Whether you’re working from home or are a stay-at-home parent, having the children at home for an extended period of time can be stressful for everyone. To maximize creativity and learning, I came up with a system of dividing our day into different “Time Zones”, depending on what the needs are each day. Schedules vary and unforeseen circumstances pop up that require us to be flexible. By utilizing these different Time Zones, it creates fluidity in our daily routine and allows us to pivot to various Zones as needed throughout the day. It also gets our kids moving around and maximizing the space of our home, without everyone being cooped up in the same room all day, day after day.
This Time Zone is meant for typical schoolwork. Utilize those homework packets that get sent home! Next time you’re at the store, grab a few workbooks that include writing and math problems applicable to your child’s grade. Give them a creative prompt, having them write a short story or drawing a photo centered around a theme.
Photo by Santi Yedri on Unsplash
Psst, here’s a pro-parenting tip: younger kids love helping around the house. Use that energy and build on it in this Time Zone! Kids as young as two can help pick up toys. Give them old socks or washcloths and have them dust. Kids aged five to ten can learn to fold and put away their laundry, empty the silverware from the dishwasher, set and clear the table, collect the trash from around the house, wipe down doorknobs and light switches, feed the pets and water plants. Pre-teens and teenagers can sweep, vacuum, wash the laundry, take out the trash, and organize a drawer. It can be daunting to teach our kids the various steps of our cleaning methods, but now we have the time to practice with them. By teaching them at a young age, they grow up learning that taking care of the home is the responsibility of everyone in the family. Teamwork!
Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash
In this Zone, have them get busy using their minds and hands! Pull out the playdough and slime, build a fort out of couch cushions and blankets, construct something out of Legos and blocks, color or paint. Kids are geniuses at creating toys and games out of our trash. Toilet paper tubes are puppets, old boxes are time machines, and scrap paper, scissors, and glue become pop up cards. Let them loose, they might surprise you with what they invent!
Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash
How do we help them unleash all that energy while staying inside all day? YouTube has kids’ channels for yoga, dancing, Zumba, and more. They can create and run an obstacle course through your home. Have them act out their favorite movie. Or crank up the music and have a dance party in this Time Zone!
Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash
This Zone doesn’t necessarily equal naptime. It can be a period when everyone gets to have some alone time for reading or quiet play to recharge. Books, stuffed animals, blankets, a noise machine, some softer lighting all help to create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. Everyone needs a break sometimes!
Photo by Gabriel Tovar on Unsplash
There’s lots of entertainment and education to be had in the Kitchen Time Zone! And it sets our kids up for success by teaching them to cook! Breakfast skills can involve learning to pour cereal and toast waffles. For lunches, practice spreading PB&J on bread. Compiling dinner helps teach them the basic components of a meal: a protein, a fruit, a veggie, and a grain. Baking involves mixing and measuring which uses math and fine motor skills. The more they build on these skills, the more they can do it on their own, so when they complain, “I’m so hungry!” you can respond with, “Go make yourself something!”
Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
Little kids can enjoy bubble baths and splashing around. Older kids may like to paint nails and create hairdos. Teenagers can do facials and play with makeup looks. The bathroom might be the smallest room in the house, but it can have many uses in this Time Zone!
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
Perhaps our kids most beloved Time Zone: the screen. You’re inside all day, living in the same space. Do not be afraid of the TV! There are plenty of learning programs like PBS Kids, or fun shows on streaming services like StoryBots on Netflix, that help educate while being funny and entertaining. Movies and video games can also be a source of comfort in the midst of spending time away from friends.
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
Mom and Dad Time
It can be instinctual to say, “Just a minute” to our kids all day long as we need to get work done. Setting aside a dedicated Time Zone with Mom or Dad in the day can be helpful for bonding and to focus on one another before getting back to work or cleaning. Lean into your strengths. Do you like to play and create? Act out stories and play dress up together. Do you like more structured time? Do puzzles and play boardgames. Always a hit, and recommended by doctors and teachers? Reading books. Snuggle up close and read, read, read!
Top image: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Kat Miller has a degree in print journalism from James Madison University and has written articles for www.churchinhollywood.com. She is currently a stay at home mom and pastor’s wife living in Los Angeles.