All Ohio schools closed. Bars, restaurants eat-in dining rooms shuttered. Sports and other events cancelled. COVID-19 has changed every family’s daily routine, activities and even their spring break travel plans for the foreseeable future. We’re quarantined in our homes with no place to go. Parents are stressed, while kids are fighting boredom. Now what?
“Through this situation we’ve all been given the gift of time,” said Dr. Geoffrey Putt, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “We rarely have the time and opportunity as parents to do all the things we want to do with our kids. We can use this time to really focus on our kids and make being together enjoyable for everyone.”
So turn off the news and refocus your attention from COVID-19 to making the most of this opportunity. Dr. Putt offers 10 ways to beat boredom and keep families busy while grounded at home.
Take live cultural, educational tours.
Many zoos, aquariums and museums around the globe are offering live feeds and virtual tours right from your couch. To name a few, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo are offering live sessions of their animals and behind-the-scenes snippets on Facebook.
In addition, museums including The Guggenheim in New York and The Louvre in Paris are offering virtual cultural experiences. Get a complete list of participating museums.
Learn at home.
Scholastic and several other educational companies are offering digital learning opportunities and courses as schools shut their doors across the nation. It’s a great way to get involved in your kids’ learning and have fun along the way.
Craft projects can be a fun way to pass the time, starting with brainstorming on the project, collecting the materials (such as finding the perfect rocks or bottle caps), and then completing it. You also can do some mad science with the classic volcano creation or DIY slime.
Enjoy the great outdoors.
Getting outside when you’re stuck at home is a great way to beat boredom. Try a new take on hopscotch by drawing pictures inside of the squares instead of numbers. If you land on a musical note, for example, it means you have to sing a song while you hop. Create a bowling alley out of empty plastic bottles, or a mini golf course using empty cans. You can also plan a hike at your local metroparks or drive up to the lakefront for a stroll on the beach.
Even though libraries are closed, there are still digital and audio books available. Each family member can take a turn in choosing a book for the whole family to read and discuss together.
Bond over a favorite movie.
Gather all your family’s favorite snacks and sit down to watch a family favorite or a classic film you enjoyed as a kid.
Choose a theme day.
Choose a theme, such as beach day, or pirate or princess day, and make a day of it for an extra special twist. If spring break plans are cancelled, bring the beach to you. Use what you have in your house to outfit your family room into a beach, wear your bathing suits and sunglasses, watch a beach-themed show, play cards at the “beach.” It’s a great way to occupy kids’ time without breaking the bank.
Search for volunteer opportunities.
Even though we can’t volunteer in person, there are still opportunities for families to give back. Write letters to our troops or local nursing home residents. Many of these elderly aren’t allowed visitors due to COVID-19 and could really use a warm thought. Maybe even Facetime your own grandparents to help them feel a little less isolated.
Whip up some fun in the kitchen.
Cooking together can be a fun family activity, whether it’s making dinner or baking cookies or cupcakes. You can explore new recipes using sites like Pinterest or whip up a family favorite.
Let your child personalize his space.
If your child wants to update his room to match his age or interests, this is a great time to do that. It can often be a multiple-step process, starting with cleaning out the toys and clothes he’s outgrown to choosing new paint and bedding. It can also be as simple as rearranging the furniture or applying personal touches like glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling or accessories representing his favorite sports team. Maybe even let the kids paint a mural on the wall.
“The key is finding a balance,” said Dr. Putt. “It doesn’t all have to be academics, or all fun and adventure, or all chores. Doing a little bit of everything helps kids enjoy their time at home and keeps them engaged.”
More about COVID-19
At Akron Children’s Hospital, our top priority is the health and safety of patients, staff and visitors. As the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation evolves, we invite you to visit this website often for updates.