The key to surviving family lockdown with the kids

Since the closure of schools, colleges and nurseries due to the coronavirus pandemic parents are now facing an uncertain amount of weeks at home with their children. But don’t panic! Think of this time as an unexpected opportunity to learn some new skills with the youngsters (like cooking supper or planting some seeds in the garden) and enjoy some happy family time together. Here’s some tips on how to survive family isolation at home with the kids and keep cabin fever at bay…

The idea of being cooped up at home with the kids for weeks on end may not be top of most parents’ wish list! But thankfully there are lots of activities you and your children can do at home or in the back garden to suppress the boredom and keep everybody entertained!

The key to surviving the coming weeks, according to psychologists, is to try and stick to a routine at home. Set your alarm and wake up at the normal time and draw up a plan for the day. If your children are older, involve them in the planning and let them have a say on the daily schedule. However, be flexible: there may be times when everybody needs a break, whether it’s a bit of fresh air outside or some screen time inside for the youngsters. After all, the end game is to survive as a family!

Kick off your day with an exercise workout to energise and get the family motivated. Body coach Joe Wicks is hosting a free 30 minute PE lesson on his YouTube channel at 9am Monday to Friday.

Create a healthy working environment for children doing school work and help them to feel a sense of achievement. They can keep in touch with classmates and friends using online platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom. For teenagers who have had exams cancelled this can be an unsettled time and they are also having to adjust to not seeing their friends – social media will be important to them.

This will be a good opportunity to teach children some new life skills: cooking basic meals, using a washing machine, making a cup of tea or learning how to iron.  These will all bode well for later years!

For little ones why not enjoy some crafty play either in the house or garden –  make tissue paper flowers and stick them onto twigs to create a blossom tree or draw some cheerful pictures and put them on your front window to cheer passers-by. Turn your back garden into a playroom:  fill a builders tray with bags of sand (these can cost as little as £12) to make a sand pit or fill a builders tray with shaving foam and use spatulas to make patterns. Use soil from your back garden to make a mud kitchen or fill a bucket with water and use paint brushes to paint water pictures on a patio.

Get family fit: mend those punctures, clean those bikes and go on a cycle ride on nice sunny days or exercise the muscles by taking a walk, skipping in the garden, learning yoga or pilates (there are lots of online classes) or sign up to a dance class on YouTube with Darcey Bussell or Oti Mabuse.

There are 100 indoor activities to keep families busy on the Scouts website. They include sending a postcard to your future self, decorating happy cookies, creating a fruit salad solar system and making a wildflower seed bomb to encourage wildlife. For more information go to www.scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors/.

A 31 day Lego challenge calendar is available online to keep kids (and adults!) entertained with building tasks such as creating a new tardis for Dr Who, designing and building your dream bedroom and constructing a bridge. More information at https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/lego-challenge-calendar-ideas-kids/ .

Play some good old fashioned card and board games or do a jigsaw puzzle together. Get your creative juices flowing and indulge in some craft activities with the kids. Red Ted Art and The Imagination Tree are great websites for ideas.

Older children could embark on learning a new skill or hobby – maybe learn a new language or  musical instrument . There are plenty of online tutorials out there.

Go out in the garden – sow some seeds and watch them grow, create a new flower bed with the children (or even a small allotment) or make a bird feeder.

Find a nice sunny spot in the garden and read a book with your child or encourage them to write a letter to a family member who is self-isolating at home.

Whatever you do, embrace this time with your children and try and create a happy and healthy household. Good luck!