COVID-19 is an illness that is spreading around the United States and the world. Because of its rapid spread, we stayed home for a while and now have been instructed to continue to social distance ourselves from others.
While social distancing is the best and safest thing you can do right now, you and your children may start to feel a little antsy – and that’s completely normal.
At Children’s Minnesota, we have a group of patient families called the Family Advisory Council (FAC). This is a diverse group of families whose children have received care (inpatient or outpatient) at one of Children’s Minnesota’s facilities. Because of their child’s complex medical conditions, these families already have experience with social distancing and quarantines.
FAC families wanted to help other families who are experiencing the difficulties of coming up with creative ideas to keep your children entertained while also keeping them safe.
Ideas for you and your kids during social distancing
Stay connected to friends and family
It can feel strange to be a child and not be allowed to go outside and play with their neighbors and friends. But in a time like this, it’s important they don’t. FAC families suggested these ways to stay connected:
- Set up FaceTime or Skype play dates with friends and family members. You can just chat or you can get more creative and paint pictures “together,” sing karaoke as a group or even watch Netflix!
- Start a group chat.
- Set up pen pals to write letters and mail them to friends.
- Create a Zoom account and chat with multiple friends at once.
Spend time outside getting fresh air
Social distancing may restrict your family from being around friends and other families, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. Here are some outdoor activities that are social-distancing approved!
- Outdoor scavenger hunts.
- Geocaching is a free app that provides your kids with a modern-day scavenger hunt.
- Sidewalk chalk – you can even go outside a senior living home and decorate their sidewalks to brighten their days as they may be in isolation themselves.
- Neighborhood walks, bike rides or hikes!
Engaging activities (that actually entertain!)
There’re many activities you can do at home with supplies you have laying around your house. Sometimes the hardest part is getting creative. You’re in luck! Members of the FAC have already prepared tons of activities and recipes for you!
Mini monopoly: Use Monopoly game money as incentives for different things. This FAC family has a list of different ways their children can earn money and what they can turn the cash in for – for example, doing the dishes gives you $10 and cleaning the bathroom gets you $15, if you do both of those you can trade in your $25 in cash for a snack or extra screen time!
Disposable cups: Use disposable cups to make a mini golf course. Set up a pyramid and use nerf guns to shoot them down.
LEGOs: Start a LEGO Masters game – just like the TV show!
Other ideas: jigsaw puzzles, exercise apps/games, indoor picnics, make cards for senior living communities or for essential workers.
Bubbles: Combine 4 cups water, 1 cup dish soap, ¼ cup corn syrup in a cup or bowl. Mix and it’s ready to go. This recipe is great for oversized bubbles outside!
Homemade playdough: Combine 1 cup flour, ½ cup salt, 2 tablespoon (T) cream of tartar, 1T oil, 1 cup water, ¼ teaspoon (t) food coloring. Mix in pot on the stove and cook over low heat until it begins to form a ball. Cool, knead in food coloring and store in an airtight container. This will make enough playdough for two kids. Each child can pick their own color to avoid any transmission concerns.
Tips for caregivers while working remote while kids are home
Caregivers may be struggling with their new day-to-day: working from home while kids are also home from school. This can be a difficult time for caregivers to feel like they are getting their work done and also making sure their children stay entertained and safe. Here are a few tips for a successful day of doing both:
- Have a routine for yourself and your family – and stick to it!
- Create and set up a productive work space for yourself.
- Practice self-care!
Read more: Tips for working remotely while kids are home.
Children’s Minnesota Family Advisory Council
Family Advisory Council members work collaboratively with staff to promote and enhance patient- and family-centered care and to improve the family and patient experiences at Children’s Minnesota. Learn more about our expectations of members of the Family Advisory Council and how to apply.