By Neerja Birla
We have entered a critical stage with the coronavirus pandemic and most families are at home, practising social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus. For most people, having the entire family at home full time is usually a luxury reserved for family vacations. Now, in these more somber times, a lot of parents are turning to their social media to share their stories of how challenging it is to keep the kids engaged when they can’t go out of the house. Memes aside, I think this might be an excellent opportunity to make the most of the situation and spend quality time with the kids. We’ve always wished we had more time to play, bond or just hang out with them. With a little bit of planning, there’s a lot of different ways to turn social distancing into a more productive, engaging time.
Learn while you play
Maybe not having regular classes in school is a good time to explore alternative learning opportunities, especially through play. There are lots of apps out there that you can choose from, with games and activities that are educational and fun. YouTube Kids is a great platform where you can line up interesting videos to watch together, especially those related to travel, history and even science. Just because you can’t go out, doesn’t mean you can’t still virtually travel the world!
Share skills while you bond
This is a good time to share skills and interests with your kids. There may be topics or skills that you’re passionate about that you can teach your kids. Cooking, painting, doing DIY crafts at home are all great ways to keep them engaged while also giving them a chance to get to know your fun side. Karaoke apps and dancing games that you can hook up to your phones or smart televisions can also be a great way to cut loose and have fun. Even if you don’t have board games at home, there are apps with virtual versions that you can play. For example, games like Monopoly can be a great way to teach them about managing money.
Share chores and responsibilities together as a family
With the entire family at home, you’re probably already feeling the stress of taking care of household chores, along with having to work from home. Assigning age appropriate chores to each of your kids is a great way to enlist their help in getting things done. Knowing that they can contribute to keeping the family running smoothly will go a long way when it comes to keeping them engaged, and also in learning new habits and responsibilities.
Make memories while you stay at home
As long as one is with family, it’s always an opportunity to make new memories. You could start by going over old photos and retelling the stories that go with them. You could even tap into your arts and crafts skills together to make scrapbooks with all these old photos, especially with the whole family contributing captions and stories to go with each one. It’s a great way for kids to learn more about their grandparents and ancestors – what life was like in those times, and even valuable life lessons from their experiences.
Every parent can sympathise with the fact that kids get bored really fast. Nothing is more powerful or engaging than their own imagination, so I find that it helps to let them have some time for free play, where they can indulge in games or activities on their own. Especially when you have to work from home, this can be a good time to get your work done while keeping an eye on them. We’re dealing with a pandemic, and it’s changing our world, but maybe the only good thing to come out of this is the quality time we get to spend with our kids. So stay safe, stay indoors and make the most of this time that you get with your little ones!
(The writer is the founder and chairperson of Mpower)