If so, then you probably want to limit the risk of your family contracting the novel coronavirus — or transmitting it to a vulnerable person — by practising social distancing and limiting time spent at places that are typically crowded during school vacations — places such as museums, theatres, play centres, science centres, and aquariums. You know, just the places that keep you sane and your children entertained.
WATCH: How to talk to your kids about COVID-19. Story continues below.
Some of these places are still open to the public (Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario announced today that they are closing their doors to the public temporarily due to safety concerns), however some provinces are recommending that events with more than 250 people be put on hold due to the pandemic.
Whether you take your kids to the museum or not is an individual choice, however if you’re planning on staying home, here are some fun things to do with kids of all ages that won’t expose you to large groups of people. Conveniently, they’re also easy on your wallet.
Have a spa day
Boys enjoy facial treatments, a good foot scrub, and nail polish, too, so don’t assume this is a female-centred activity! You can order all kinds of health and beauty supplies from Amazon (or better yet, hit up your local independent stores), but kids especially love making their own facial masks and supplies.
Board and card games
On the surface it may not seem interesting, but mix it up! Kids love making up their own fun rules for tried-and-true standards, and you can create a tournament for the winner to receive a fun prize like staying up an hour later than the usual bedtime.
Check out some of our favourite board games for kids here.
Baking and cooking
Most kids of all ages like to make stuff in the kitchen, so ask what they want to make, and let them go at it! Cupcakes and a decorating challenge always go over well.
You probably aren’t at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus while on uncrowded nature walk paths, bike rides through your neighbourhood, or doing outdoor things as a family, away from crowded areas.
Hopscotch and chalk drawing on sidewalks or driveways are also fun ways to pass the time and explore creativity while taking in some fresh air.
Indoors or outdoors, racing around trying to find specific items is a great way to pass some time. Create a list of things your kids can track down and bring back in the least amount of time. Don’t forget a good prize for the winner!
Sew it up
If your child already knows how to sew, create a challenge like making a favourite TV character out of old clothes. If your kid doesn’t know how to sew, teach him! Even non-sewing adults can Google how-to videos and learn along with their kids, and little kids can “pretend” to sew with string through holes punched or cut in heavy fabric scraps or construction paper.
Put on a show
Drama is the name of the game, whether it’s comedy, musical, serious, or a variety! Work with your children to create, stage, script, make costumes, and perform a show.
Make sure you set up a camera to record the final production to enjoy again and again.
Create a family collage or scrapbook
Do you have old magazines or catalogues lying around? Do your kids love to draw? Create a family board or book of words, ideas, images, character traits, or whatever you feel represents your family. There are no rules except having fun and being creative!
Ballons, balloons, balloons!
The sky is the limit with balloon play. Blow some up, toss them around, play some games with them, or fill them with water and throw them at each other! Don’t worry – it dries!
WATCH: Tips for protecting your child against the novel coronavirus. Story continues below.
Just don’t fill them full of water as you would outdoor water balloons — add only a couple tablespoons of water to an air-filled balloon so there’s a small spray when it explodes!
Don’t say no to video games
Instead of banning or avoiding them, turn them into a family event for a pre-determined amount of time. Create a contest or tournament and play along with the kids so they’re not begging to play video games the entire time you’re trying to convince them to do other stuff.
Give a lesson on community
Go through your cupboards with your kids and pick out stuff you can drop off at your local food bank.
Discuss COVID-19 with your kids and explain how the infections and quarantines will affect many families and their ability to feed themselves.
Take the opportunity to teach your kids to help their community.
Ask your kids what they’d like to do, and do it!
Kids are wonderfully creative, and even if they answer, “Watch TV!” there’s nothing wrong with taking an hour or two to watch a movie or some fun YouTube videos together while eating some snacks, or tuning in to a good science show or documentary.
And remember ...
Kids get bored easily, so the key is to switch things up and encourage them to use their creativity as much as possible. Trying to avoid screen time is understandable, but a little won’t hurt them as long as most of the day is spent doing other things and they have some physical movement each day as well.
The internet is a trove of boredom-busting ideas, especially if you search ideas for things to do on rainy days or fun games and crafts to do at home.
To avoid irritability from all that together time, ensure everyone — including you! — spends at least a half-hour alone each day to read, colour, nap, or do whatever is relaxing.
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