COVID-19 has been difficult for all of us, but it has been especially hard on kids (and their parents).
Experts explain that a safe, reliable environment is important for kids to find success in life. Rich experiences and lots of opportunity, as well as a connection to the world, all help a growing mind. According to a recent study by Harvard and MIT, kids also need to develop and practice their communication skills; not an easy task when social distancing.
A pandemic makes opportunity-rich experiences and communication feel impossible. Physical activities, critical for the growth and happiness of a child, can be difficult. As a parent, there is only so much you can do from the confines of your living room. Turning to TV or a computer screen is an easy solution but it is almost never the best solution.
Not to worry. With a little creativity and an eye toward fun, there are safe physical activities out there (even when quarantining)!
We understand that even during these difficult times there are still sports leagues, teams and parks open. That said, activity and interaction may be limited and reliable avenues for physical activity like a park or a swimming pool may not be safe or healthy.
For this list, we wanted to look at on-hand simple ideas that can turn a boring day, one where the park is closed or a game has been delayed, into a memorable one. Let’s get started.
Turn run-of-the-mill exercises like push-ups, sit-ups or jumping jacks into a challenge. Count how many sit-ups you can do on the first day and then see if you can beat the count the next day. Put up a sign that tracks progress. For example, count the number of steps with every jumping jack then track progress on a map to see how far you can get on your jumping jack adventure. At the end of the challenge, make sure to add a fun reward.
For kids that don’t like (or want to) exercise, try just calling it a challenge. Set a daily challenge for the family that happens to include exercises.
For those of us shopping online while stuck at home, boxes from online retailers like Amazon are everywhere. With a little work, you can turn those boxes into something special. Look at building a fort, house, or even something more exotic like a starship or a pirate galleon. Let the kids take charge of the building process, and incorporate additional materials like branches or blankets.
For cold or rainy days, look at taking your housebound blanket fort to the next level. Use those boxes to make a big fort in the basement. Look at building tunnels, rooms and more.
A good obstacle course never feels like work or exercise. It’s pure fun. With an open area, a few toys, rope and a little imagination, you can make an epic obstacle course. Look at adding fun or funny obstacles as well as challenging ones. For example, offer a challenge where you spin around six times followed by a quick sprint.
Use a stopwatch to time the course. Offer fun awards for everyone that runs the course.
Dancing is not only an excellent exercise, but it’s fun and challenging. USASF member dance studios offer classes for kids of all ages, with an eye to health and safety. Take the lessons and classes home for some additional practice.
Let the kids make up their own dance routine. Give them some time to practice their dance then let them present it to the family.
Hiking is a great way to get out of the house for exercise. Look for new trails in your area. Let the young kids pick out their hiking outfit, like a fun shirt or a cool hat. Offer a reward after the hike, like a homemade fruit smoothie or a new movie.
Take funny photos on the trail, and then vote on the funniest picture.
There is always something new to find in your hometown. Do some research into a little known landmark or monument, for example a fountain or a statue in a park. Then pile into the car with a map and see if you can find the landmark. Let the kids lead with the map (just make sure the area is safe!).
Your local chamber of commerce is a great resource for finding out-of-the-way attractions and fun things to do in your area.
With a cell phone and an imagination, anyone can be a movie director. Spend some time in the morning planning a movie. Write a script and map out a few action sequences, then use the camera on your phone to film the scenes. Make sure to review the script and discuss safety before filming starts, then get started with your very own movie!
Send your film to distant family. This is a fun way to connect, even when you’re apart.
For a quick camping trip, without all the packing and all the trouble, head to the backyard. Let the kids set up the tent and prepare their campground. A few extra blankets on the ground will keep them warm, even in cooler weather.
You can purchase a backyard fire pit or use a grill for a quick campfire and marshmallows. Make sure a parent or adult is there to supervise and for safety.
A creek is a great place to get away. Many parks are built around creeks, but make sure the creek has areas you can walk. Some fast-moving or deep creeks can be dangerous, especially after a rain. Make sure to wear shoes that can get wet and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Write up a quick scavenger hunt list before the walk. Add items like fossils, butterflies or flowers. You don’t need to pick up or carry the items, just find them.
Learning something new is a great way to pass the time. It doesn’t take much equipment to start learning soccer, baseball, dance or cheer for example. Talk to a local expert like a coach about some lessons, then start practicing. Why not try your hand at drawing or painting? After some practice, gather the family together for a demonstration.
Take a video of yourself working on the new skill or sport and send it to a cousin or friend who can practice with you, even if they are far away.
It’s easy to get frustrated during these difficult times. That’s especially true for children. Often, world events can seem far away and overwhelming at the same time.
Find some control by setting up a fun physical activity. There are many things you can do, so get together with your family and select a few activities.
Also remember, there are a lot of groups and organizations out there that are still operating with an eye on health and safety. Be safe, but remember the world doesn’t stop when you’re social distancing! Contact us today to learn more.