In times of isolation and quarantine, whole families are having to stay home together for a lot longer than any of them are used to. While this can be trying, it can also be a beneficial to the whole family. Studies show that creating bonds between children and parents help children to build their self-esteem, develop good behaviors, make memories, and relieve stress. It encourages a healthy lifestyle and aids in connecting meaningfully.
It can be challenging, when one is not accustomed to it, to find ways to enjoy extended time at home. It is important to keep in mind that not every second must be pre-planned and filled with activities but having some things to do can help stave off boredom and give extra-bright spots to remember in the future.
Spending time outside is good for the human body. Sunshine helps develop vitamin D and fresh air provides needed oxygen, plus exercise is good for everyone. Kids can play in the yard without too much supervision, if the yard is fenced, but they would still prefer it if mom and dad play with them. There are lots of outdoor games that the whole family can play, and the best part about doing things in your own backyard is that it is usually inexpensive (mostly free!).
- Play badminton or volleyball. If a net is not available, tie a piece of string across a pair of sticks stuck in the ground or use sticks or other visible items to make a dividing line.
- Have a campfire in the back yard (either in a fire pit or barbecue grill or make a spot if there is not a burn ban in the area). Roast hot dogs and marshmallows, sing fun songs, and tell stories.
- Collect flowers and leaves to press for making cards, bookmarks, or posters later.
- Plant a garden – not only will it keep people busy, it will yield delicious food for the family!
- Play hide and seek – it is a classic and children still enjoy playing. It gets even more interesting if it is played after it starts getting dark! Of course, you can always use one of the top flashlight brands to help you find the hiders.
- Fly a kite on a windy day.
- Make an obstacle course. Add some very easy parts and some more challenging. Keep up with best times.
- Freeze orange drink and vanilla ice cream to make homemade ice treats to eat outside. This works with orange juice or orange soda. Other flavors of drink can be used to make similar treats, such as root beer, strawberry soda, grape juice or soda, or whatever flavor is desired.
- Attach long ribbons to sticks and twirl them or dance with them.
- Set up a scavenger hunt – either having people find things that have been hidden, or things that can generally be found – and see who can finish first. If there are very young children playing, pair them with an older child or parent.
- Make long-lasting soap bubbles. Recipes for these add corn starch, baking soda, and a bit of glycerin or personal lubricant to the basic soap and water solution, allowing bubbles to hold their shape longer.
- Do a bit of stargazing. There are sky maps available to aid in recognizing constellations. It is best when there is no outdoor light, and binoculars or a telescope may help.
- Throw water balloons at each other on a hot day.
When outdoors is not an option, there are so many possibilities to make memories in the house!
- Have a baking party – bake cookies, cakes, brownies, fudge, or whatever tickles your fancy. It could even be made into a contest between family members!
- Do a bedroom makeover. Deep clean and rearrange. Maybe paint the walls a new color, change the curtains, do something that uniquely fits the person who sleeps there.
- Make a blanket fort with furniture and sheets. Climb inside with flashlights. For a bit more fun, make it a maze!
- Read a book, either individually or out loud. It can be a family project, with each person taking a turn reading aloud.
- Invent a new code and take turns writing notes in it.
- Have a costume party – even when it is not Halloween! Dress up and take pictures.
- Play board or card games. Make it an event; allow every family member to choose their favorite game and then play them all!
- Have an ice cream sundae bar and let everyone create their own confection. Arrange a variety of toppings to be added, including sauces, nuts, sprinkles, fruit, and whatever else sounds good.
- Write letters to grandparents or other family members that may be contacted rarely. Children get a bit of practice with handwriting and they can also draw pictures to go with it.
- Have a movie marathon. Use Netflix, Disney+, or another streaming service, or movies on disc if you have favorites already. Gather snacks and drinks and just enjoy!
- For dinner, have a “make your own pizza” party – provide crusts and toppings and let each person put their own together and then bake them.
- Write and act out a short play. Film it with a webcam or smartphone. Share it with friends and family via social media or YouTube.
- Create things with play dough – either store bought or homemade. It is safe to use and easy to make with flour, salt, water, and food coloring.
- Have a puppet show – if standard puppets are not available, make some from socks, paper lunch bags, or just draw faces on spoons with dry-erase markers.
- Put together a puzzle together. People who do puzzles rarely may want to begin with fewer pieces, but those who enjoy a challenge can choose one with a thousand pieces!
- Do science experiments – they are fun and educational! Look at things like water displacement, making rock candy, or any number of other options.