7 Tips to Keep Your Kids Active and Happy while Social Distancing
Even as an adult, it’s not easy to remain positive in the midst of the pandemic. The truth is social distancing hasn’t been easy. For most of us, it’s been tough. According to Parents.com, it may be tougher on some children and teens. This is because as children grow older and become more socially adept, their peer group gains more significant value in the social development journey.
No one knows how long social distancing is going to last. But one thing is certain, life has to go on, and we need to find ways to make the most of it.
During this period, children have had to stay at home, and interaction with their friends has been at a bare minimum. If you’re anything like me, you may be searching for new ideas on how to keep your kids active and happy at home.
In this article, I’ll share 7 tips on how you keep your kids engaged while still adhering to social distancing requirements.
- Educational and kid-friendly videos.
- Have a fun family workout.
- Experiment with new chore routines.
- Home solutions for after school activities.
- Find ways for them to stay connected socially.
- Photography projects for kids.
- Try out different outdoor backyard activities.
- Want a beautiful and professionally created album?
1. Educational and kid-friendly videos
If you are busy, but you want to keep your kids engaged, the YouTube Kids app for IOS and Android phones and tablets can be a great resource. The last thing you want is your kids stumbling on the wrong content. It’s easier said than done since parents most often don’t have the time to monitor every video their kid watches.
That’s where YouTube Kids app comes in. It allows you to control everything your children watch. For example, under the parental control settings, you can enable “approved content only” under your child’s profile. This means the child won’t be able to search for content on their own. Instead, they’ll have access to the videos and channels, you have specifically added to their approved list.
You can also block videos or channels you don’t want your child to watch.
What do they enjoy?
What do you want them to learn? Math? Science?
After searching YouTube Kids for the best channels and content, you can add them to the approved list. To ensure an extra level of surfing safety for your kids turn on the ‘Safe Search’ filter in every browser your child uses. You can buy a parental control software or digitally proof your home with parental control routers.
2. Have a fun family workout
The goal is to have something everyone can do and enjoy including the younger kids.
If you don’t have a lot of room, that’s okay. This family workout doesn’t need a lot and can be done in the living room or any available space.
I have included a few examples below to get you started, and you can find kids’ workouts on YouTube as well.
- Jumping jacks
- Bear crawls
- High knees
- Jog in place
- Dancing to music
- Hopscotch (draw with chalk outside)
For it to be fun and engaging:
- Get everyone involved – yes, even the adults – and have them join in with the kids! The younger children will enjoy it, even more, when they have their parents and older siblings exercising with them.
- Turn the exercises into games or challenges with rewards. For example, have everyone hold a one-leg stance for 30 seconds. The winner gets to pick what’s for breakfast the following day.
- Try a kids yoga class online. You’ll find free options on YouTube that have fun themes to engage even the youngest children.
The options are limitless! Remember to keep it fun and simple.
3. Experiment with new chore routines
Social distancing has upended most of our daily routines. But it offers an opportunity to involve our kids in more household chores, and that I can get behind.
Studies show that kids who do chores also learn responsibility and gain important life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives (The New York Times) Also when all members of the family contribute, everyone gets to experience feelings of teamwork and family bonding.
That’s why it’s important to develop a routine to guide your children on how to carry out their chores. Every family situation is unique, so there is no one size fit for all. You just have to create a routine and experiment with it.
Given that we are in unique times and our hope is for things to get back to normal soon, the probability is you won’t be developing a long-term chore routine. For now, make the most of the extra time your kids are spending at home to teach them new skills and responsibilities with a customized chore routine.
A few pointers to get you started in the right direction:
- Find chores that every kid can do–even the toddlers. If you have toddlers and preschoolers, find small and fun ways to involve them. For example, race them to see who returns the toys back to the storage box fastest.
- Create a chore chart and display it where all the kids can see it. You can draw it out on a piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be printed one.
- Take enough time to show them how to do the chore. Kids need to be guided more so when they are trying out something new.
- Have a simple reward system. For example, every completed chore earns your child an extra 20 minutes to play their favorite game with you or even earning an allowance. Having a reward system works wonders in helping keep kids motivated for chores.
- There are a lot of free chore chart printables online. You can also get chore chart ideas on Pinterest.
Since the start of “Quarantine 2020,” I have been trying a new system that’s working pretty well at our house, especially given we have a 10 year age gap between my two sons who are living here full-time. I write out three to four chores on a piece of paper in the morning along with two $1 bills.
The older of the two involves the younger in making decisions about which order to start and doing what he can of the work. My youngest son loves the time with his brother as they work in a team, and the oldest loves getting paid.
4. Are your kids missing their after-school activities? Try one of these solutions
With most schools closed, a lot of parents have found ways to adapt. It’s also important to ensure extracurricular activities are not overshadowed.
It can be tough not to default to electronics when you’re also trying to work or manage your household. Now more than ever it’s important as parents we make the effort to ensure a balanced and holistic approach to our children’s development.
With the help of technology, and out of the box thinking, you can find some workarounds to missing in-person practices and lessons.
- Most dance, art, and music tutors are transitioning to live online classes. Reach out to your child’s teacher and find out if they provide virtual private or group classes. These classes can be set up over the popular video conferencing tool like Zoom or your preferred platform.
- If your kids are members of school clubs, find out if the school’s administration has organized for any virtual club meetings. If there are none, you can volunteer to coordinate with other parents to have them set up for the clubs your kids are part of. Most parents will be more than willing to let their kids be involved.
- Encourage your kids to develop new hobbies that can be practiced within your family or using virtual workouts or challenges for the sports they’re missing. You’ll want to talk to them and help them understand why this is the best option for now. If you can, involve your kids in the solution so they feel invested.
5. Find ways for them to stay connected socially
It can become easy to feel socially isolated, especially for kids. That’s why it’s important to set aside time for social connection. Spend quality time talking with your kids. Also, organize phone calls, or online video chat for your child to connect with extended family members like grandparents, cousins uncles, and aunties. Free programs like Zoom or HouseParty make gathering online easy.
My Mom had a great idea to try Zoom Bingo. She purchased the bingo set, kept some of the cards, and sent us the remaining supplies. Now, we can spin the ball, call the numbers, and my parents can play along with us during the Zoom meeting. It’s been a lot of fun.
Another great idea for the younger kids is to have grandparents color along with their grandchildren. The youngest children might not have a long attention span for sitting and talking to the computer screen, but add in an activity, and they can chat as they work on a coloring page or project.
Since teens’ social lives often revolve around their peers, allow time for them to connect with friends online using Facetime or video games where they can talk with one another.
You can also organize virtual get-togethers for your kids.
A few pointers to ensure a good experience for your kids:
- For younger children, communicate with the other parents and agree on a suitable time for the kids to connect.
- Have a set starting and ending time to guide the child’s expectations
- For toddlers and preschoolers, be nearby to facilitate interactions between the kids during virtual playdates.
- Host a movie night and have your kids and their friends watch together. Netflix Party lets kids watch movies together. Anyone with a monthly Netflix subscription can add this free Google Chrome extension. You can synchronize video playback with your child’s friends and add group chat so kids can “talk” during the movie. Anyone in the group can pause, play, fast forward, and rewind the movie so everyone is in the same spot. Only those with an invite can get into the party, so parents don’t need to worry about strangers getting into the chat room.
6. Photography projects for kids
Did you know you can turn photography into a learning experience that kids will enjoy while becoming educated at the same time? Take some time and organize simple photography projects for your kids to do. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
- Photography scavenger hunt. Create a list of 15-25 items they need to find in the house or in the yard. Hand over the camera/smartphone and have them photograph the items on the list as they find them.
- Your child can also learn ABCs through photography. Have them move around the house and photograph an item for each of the letters of the alphabet.
- Have the child walk around the house or backyard and look for things of a certain color and photograph them. This is a great way for them to learn their colors.
- Encourage your child to take a photo of an object or scene they like and print out the photo. Then have your child write a story based on what’s in the photo. This activity will enhance their creative thinking and writing skills.
Did you know printed photos bring those special moments back into your life and make them feel almost tangible? With our family yearbook membership, you can have these precious moments with you kids preserved in beautiful albums.
7. Try out different outdoor backyard activities
It’s important for kids to get active, outside time every day. If possible, make a point to get your kids and yourself outside several times a day, even if it’s only for 20-30 minutes at a time.
Ensure you follow CDC prevention guidelines such as washing your hands with soap and water and staying home if you’re sick. Below are a few suggestions on how to make the most of these short outdoor breaks.
If you have room in the backyard, make use of it. If you choose to move further than your immediate home space, ensure you adhere to the movement restrictions in your area.
- Play hide and seek.
- Set up an obstacle course in your backyard.
- Have your kids go on a scavenger hunt. It can be searching for simple objects like rocks or anything found in nature. This it’s a great way to have them interact with nature after spending most of the day indoors.
- Kids love hanging out in their own cozy, private spaces. If you have room in the backyard, teach them how to set up a tent or put up a hammock. Then let them hang out in there reading books or drawing.
Parents today are grappling with how to keep their children safe and happy. This is in the midst of a myriad of challenges that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing is second on the list of CDC recommended practices. Yet most of us 6 months ago didn’t know what social distancing is or even that such a term existed.
Now social distancing has become a part of our daily lives, and now that we know it will be a recommendation for some time, we need to find ways to help our families make the most of it.
I hope the tips in this post will help spark your own creativity, so you can start planning some new activities for your kids. Remember to take a lot of photos. Your children will one day look back and want to remember how your family made it through these challenging times.
If you found this article helpful, please share and leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.
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Imagine yourself many years from now reminiscing on how your family got through this tough time together, but you don’t have any photos of it. Sadly, digital photos get lost very easily. Now imagine yourself going through your family yearbook for 2020 with your kids and grandchildren. You have to admit there is a big difference between the two!
Take as many family photos as you can during this period when your kids are spending more time at home.
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