How To Keep Kids Actively Engaged in Play While You Work From Home
As a health coach, I am a resource for my clients to get help in a variety of areas of life. Most people think I just help with fitness and nutrition, but really, total wellness involves so much more! I actually coach in broad areas such as lifestyle-how we live, exercise-how we move, attitude-how we think, and nutrition-how we eat.
Currently, many families are faced with the daily lifestyle struggle of how to keep their children busy while parents work from home, or while we have limited options for social events, travel, or public play areas due to pandemic restrictions.
These conditions can create quite a bit of stress on both parents and children. This can also be a big contributor to a sedentary lifestyle, sitting in front of a screen, eating whatever seems to give the temporary “feel good” comfort that food is sometimes used for.
I’d like to share some ideas that may help you in creating an “Activity Toolbox” for you to keep on hand for the days when your other “go-to” activities fail.
Sensory play: includes any activity that stimulates a young child's senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, as well as anything which engages movement and balance.
Sheet pan or plastic bin with dried oats, beans, or grains. Let your child play cars or run the grains through their hands. Kids love to play dinosaurs, search for plastic bugs, or drive hot wheels through it. Holding uncooked quick oats and grinding them between hands into a soft powder is fun too!
For older kids who are out of the phase of putting things in their mouth, try painting their hands with Elmer’s white glue. Have them blow on them until it dries, and then they get to slowly peel it off. This fine tunes the pincer grasp, as well as provides a calming focus when you challenge them to try to peel off in big pieces. When I taught preschool years ago, I had students actually fall asleep doing this activity because it was so calming! (It's fun for adults too!)
Make Fake Snow and build a “snow man.” For a great recipe and ideas of how to play, click here.
Arts and Crafts:
Learn how to make origami. There are books and videos to teach all levels of difficulty. All of our kids have gone through the “Origami Phase” and 2 of them took it to the next level and made a little business out of it by selling their creations to friends! For a resource to get started, click here.
Pet Rocks, they never get old. The creativity can go on and on. If you ‘d like a great resource for ideas, click here.
Make friendship bracelets. This can be a great way to do something nice for a friend, send it to them in the mail, and bring a little joy to their day. Kids love to get things in the mail and teaching your child how to think of others is a great lesson too! For a great resource on how to get started, click here.
Decorate t-shirts. Go as advanced as you want by doing paint, tie dye, cutting into neat designs, or sewing other fabrics with designs or textures that are interesting. Let the inner fashion designer come alive!
Build an indoor fort. Let them have all the blankets you have, give them room to make a mess, and enjoy the laughter and inspiration that it sparks. Do not forget to take pictures!!
Make an obstacle course. Jump, climb, crawl, roll, dance, and see how fast each one can complete the course! Make it challenging and they will wear themselves out for a good night’s rest.
Build a card house. This one is as old as time, but it takes skill, patience, and concentration.
Have a nerf gun war. Build walls, use solo cups for targets and knock them off a ledge or table, place balloons around the house and take aim!
Build endless towers and pyramids with Solo Cups! Go to your local bulk grocery store and get the big bags of plastic cups. This is another game that will last for a long time and kids have a blast knocking the cups down after they build it.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt.
Corn Hole. This one is usually safe enough to play indoors in a long hallway if you have the space.
Play card games like Uno and Slap Jack.
Play hide and seek. (if you are the seeker, take a little longer to find them! Hahaha!)
“HORSE” Basketball game with laundry baskets and balloons or aluminum foil balls.
Read a book.
Learn how to cook.
Learn how to sew.
Learn a new language.
Listen to podcasts.
Learn about a different country/culture.
I hope this is helpful to you and gives you at least one idea of what to do when you have reached your last nerve and are about to lose it. Keep in mind, parenting is full of ups and downs. Take time to think ahead, plan out some go to strategies for when everything else fails, and most of all, give yourself, and your child some grace for when it all falls apart.
For the times it all seems to go perfectly, soak- it- in!! Take pictures, note it on your calendar, write it in your journal, remember as much of it as you can, and refer to that when you hit the next rough patch.
Certified Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer,
Certified Personal Fitness Chef
**To schedule a coaching session with Sandy, click here.**
100+ Indoor Activities for Kids (with Free Printable). (2020, March 15). Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/indoor-activities-for-kids/
Exploring the benefits of sensory play. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2020, from https://www.goodstart.org.au/news-and-advice/october-2016/exploring-the-benefits-of-sensory-play