26 May, 2020

Parenting in the times of COVID-19: Ideas to keep your kids active and engaged

  • By Team SP

Let’s face it; these are strange and unprecedented times we are living in. The buzzwords for 2020 are ones that were not even a part of our vocabulary till a few weeks back. To name a few: COVID, social distancing, lockdown, self-quarantine, and isolation!</p

Habit makes us comfortable, and is a sign that life is going on as it should. All of us, kids and adults are used to following our daily schedules. Work, playtime, meals and even rest usually happen at a fairly fixed time. During vacations, the routine changes and setting a new one in place takes some time before it becomes the new norm for a while. With COVID-19 and the lockdown, the new normal these days is to stay home. Office-goers are working from home, going out is restricted to only when necessary for our own good and children need to stay indoors as much as possible.

With even adults often struggling with the prolonged work-from-home, it is understandable that children are finding the changed scenario bewildering. Here are a few ideas to help you change gears and smoothly drive into setting up a new routine for the next few weeks.

One of the things children miss during this period of lockdown is the chance to go out and play. How many times have we heard our children asking us to take them to the park where they can play with friends, run around in the playground, or play on the swings! Unfortunately, we can’t do that in the current scenario. But that shouldn’t stop us from devising ways to include physical activity in the child’s routine. Here are a few simple ideas:

Exercise and stay fit

Exercise together to stay active even when indoors. Short sprints across the halls and fun workouts are a great way to release energy. Parents can get the kids to help out and join in their daily workout or devise simple exercises that they can do together. Skipping rope, spot-running and jumping are activities that are easy to do indoors. Infants can enjoy tummy time and massages a couple of times a day, strengthening core muscles vital for development.

Get close to nature

Being housebound all day can get boring at times. The whole family can spend some time outdoors in the balcony, terrace or home garden without leaving the house. Getting some fresh air and vitamin D is vital for proper growth. Children can help water the plants, count the flowers, or pick herbs from your green corner at home. Watch their eyes fill with wonder and amazement as they explore the variety of leaf designs and textures.

Let them help you

It’s a great idea to get your little ones to take part in simple chores around the house. Besides reducing your workload, this will help to increase your child’s concentration, sense of order, independence and self-confidence. Keeping away books and toys, putting laundry in the laundry basket, matching socks and fetching things from another room are tasks your little helpers will enjoy doing.

For children, keeping the daily routine unchanged helps maintain a semblance of normalcy. Wake them up at the usual time and get them ready for the day. As far as possible, keep mealtimes, naps and bedtime unaltered. Being home all day, keeping the children occupied during the day is important. If they do not have interesting activities to occupy themselves, they may get bored or irritable. Here are a few ideas for the family to bond and have fun together.

Watch movie

Allow the family some screen time together that will be enjoyed by everyone. Pick movies you enjoyed as kids or ones that the children have been wanting to watch. The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Jungle Book and Ice Age are some of our suggestions.

Play games

Select a game a day that everyone can play. Sorting and nesting toys work very well for infants and toddlers and hone their motor skills. Jigsaw puzzles and memory games are a great tool for building logical thinking among pre-schoolers. Word building, Pictionary, Ludo or Snakes and Ladders can turn parents into children in no time!

Read together

Pick board books with bright pictures and textures for little ones, animal themed illustrated ones for pre-schoolers and adventure series with their favourite character for the older ones to read along and enjoy. Let them dress up and enact their favourite part from the story and watch your room turn into a magical forest, an underwater world, or even an exciting zoo!

Art and craft

Get their creativity flowing as they dabble in drawing and colours. Create a messy zone where it is okay to get a little dirty. Guide them to create masterpieces with finger-painting, vegetable cut-outs and leaves. Create cards for the grandparents that they will cherish forever!  Non-toxic paint, play dough, slime are all great tactile tools for sensory development.

This is also an excellent time to bond as a family in a virtual way. Families are setting up video calls with the extended family as a way to socialise and share experiences. Consider planning common art activities among cousins that can be shared online and storytelling sessions with grandparents. Set up video play dates with friends for a limited time so they do not miss each other’s company.

Share news about what is going on in a responsible manner – preschoolers and older children will be inquisitive and have a lot of questions.

  • Listen to them and ask them what they want to know.

  • Share good hygiene tips like washing hands regularly.

  • Reassure them that they are safe at home where everyone is staying indoors and clean.

  • Avoid having the TV on at all times with news channels sharing minute by minute updates.

Let’s make staying at home fun together. Now is the best time to do things together that you were struggling to find time for earlier. So get set to create memories together that you will enjoy looking back on!

Shireen Sultana (Cofounder: Kinderpass)

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