The key to keeping children occupied is to keep your activities varied. Too much of one thing will mean the children get bored easily; however, a varied collection of different activities can help keep them occupied for longer. A good combination is to include things such as educational activities, fitness, reading and play.

As the schools in the UK have now closed, the little ones are spending way more time at home with you than they possibly ever have. This means a multitude of parents are now face with the seemingly impossible task of keeping their children occupied for hours on end. Not only is this prospect daunting but it is made even more concerning if you are working from home yourself. We’ve included a variety of tips for fun (and long) activities which will keep children entertained, fit, healthy and happy throughout isolation.

Toddlers

One of the great things about most toddlers is that they actually love to feel useful and like they are helping out in some way; and, this can keep them entertained for a good amount of time for the most part. It also means they often love organising things, sorting things into groups or piles and a lot of the time tidying up. If this sounds like your toddler, great! We have some fun activities for them to get stuck into.

On the other hand, you may be reading this thinking your toddler is nothing like that and would prefer to cause chaos rather than control it. Don’t fret, we have activities for them too.

Lending a Helping Hand

If you have chores or housework which your toddler could ‘help’ with, get them involved. Things such as folding clothes after they have been washed, or tidying toys away are great tasks to have toddlers help with. There is every possibility that you will have to redo their handy work, especially with clothes folding, but they will feel like they’ve helped out and will have kept them occupied for a little while. If you would prefer to avoid them getting their hands on your clean washing, give them their own stack of clothes to fold, perhaps dolls clothes or some tea towels.

Educational TV

Most of the time parents are being told to avoid letting their children spend hours in front of the TV however in times like this there is absolutely no shame in putting something on the TV and sitting your child in front of it to occupy them for a little while. The show you choose may depend on the day and circumstance, but educational TV programmes can be great for keeping children engaged.

Keeping Active

It is important that we all keep active as much as possible, especially as we are indoors for the majority of the day. Luckily, there are multiple ways you can help keep your children active at home. Whilst you can still enjoy one form of outdoor exercise per day with your household you can get out for a walk; but in addition to this there are plenty of activities you can do right in your home. Things such as skipping, jumping and dancing can all be done in the house with toddlers and will help to tire them out a little at the same time.

Children aged 4-7

Children in this age group are still quite curious and learning all the time, therefore they do tend to like to help out as toddlers do. Children in this age group can help you out in the kitchen, baking and cooking. There are various baking recipes which are suitable for children of different ages; some involving minimal cooking or chopping. In addition to this, children this age will be keen to have lots of playtime; and where you may usually be concerned about mess, and keeping play to a certain room in the house now is the time to relax the rules a little and accept that your living room may become a fortress of sheets and duvets.

Cooking

Along with baking some sweet treats, get your children involved in the cooking if they’re willing to help. They can help out with little things such as setting the table, stirring and mashing for you. Not only can this help to keep them entertained whilst you cook dinner, which can be a challenge, but it may even help save you a few jobs.

P.E

In the standard school day children will likely be getting much more exercise than they are whilst at home; through PE lessons and generally playing outside at break time and lunch time. There are a variety of home workouts which you can partake in, with some tailored specifically for children. Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, has started live PE classes for children every weekday morning to ensure they are getting their daily dose of exercise. These take place at 9am so you can start the day off with a dose of daily exercise and adults can get involved too.

Den Building

As we mentioned, this may be the part when your living room becomes unrecognisable; but unless you need to work from there you might just have to come to terms with this. Whether their preference is to build a fort out of duvets, blankets and pillows or make use of any empty boxes you might have laying around it can occupy them for a good amount of time simply building it.

Children aged 7-10

Children who are that little bit older may not be as happy to just help out around the house and spend their time playing. They may have more questions and concerns about what is happening. They may also be missing going to school (eventually) and it is important to keep their bodies and brains happy, healthy and active.

Make Use of Learning Resources

Now that the schools have closed, parents are trying to ensure their children keep learning whilst they are at home. Whilst this can be a little difficult without a teacher and the school environment there are plenty of resources being made available to help parents keep their children educated whilst at home. The BBC has a range of learning resources for children of all ages, in addition to Scholastic who have put together free learning packs for primary school children to continue learning whilst the schools are shut.

Create your Own Musical

This is really one for children of any age, and parents! As parents it is likely that you have sat through a performance or 2 that your children have put on. But, now is the perfect time to get everyone involved. Not only will you all have some fun, family time together in the process but you can fill plenty of time rehearsing to get your performance perfect and if you record it you will have video evidence of the fun for years to come. For inspiration, take a look at how the Marsh family took on ‘Les Misérables’.

Children Aged 10+

Children aged 10 and above that have not quite reached their teenage years may be becoming a little agitated indoors. They are edging closer to that awkward age and will likely be missing their friends and school as much as they might deny that when asked. They may be feeling a little trapped inside the house, as we all do, so keeping them occupied is important. At this age they will likely be quite aware of the news and what is going on so may be a little concerned, so make sure to talk to them about this. Encourage them to spend time in the garden if you have one so that they can get a little fresh air; something we all need plenty of at the moment.

Make Your Own Science Experiment

This is one which is great for kids who love science but can even be fun for those who aren’t as enthralled with the subject; after all, everybody loves a bit of an experiment. There are some really fun and safe experiments you can with things you have in your house. If you’re worried about your house getting messy, move the experiment to the garden. From making slime to creating a ‘tornado in a bottle’ you’d be surprised just how many fun experiments there are to do at home.

Make Time for Reading

Make sure to incorporate reading where possible as this helps to keep children’s brains active yet can be a break from learning if they are becoming agitated. For younger children, you can either read to them or put on an audio book or storytelling app and older children can read for themselves.

Practicing Relaxing Activities

This might seem a little farfetched for children however bear with us! There are a range of online yoga classes for kids, which have been popular for a while but more so at the moment. Don’t worry, it’s not all about complicated yoga poses and sitting still; it can actually be quite fun. Techniques like this can just help children refocus their mind and practice some relaxation activities which could help ease any worries or anxieties they may have regarding the current health crisis.

Teenagers

Teenagers are likely going to be missing their friends more than anything during this time at home, and although the prospect of spending some extra time in bed and not going to school may appeal to them at first, over time they are likely going to get bored of this and will be looking for ways to fill their days just like the rest of us. This is a difficult age as, if they are on social media, they will likely be seeing lots of news, and fake news, online. So, not only is it important to keep them busy but also to discuss the current situation with them openly.

Stay Social

Whilst we cannot visit family and friends who do not live with us, we can still keep in touch with them from the comfort of our own homes. It can be a lonely time for many people, especially those who live alone so make sure to check in on your friends and loved ones. Of course, you can pick up the phone and speak to grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends but modern technology also means you can see their faces! With a multitude of video call apps now available you can see your family and friends faces. This is great for teens who may be missing the company of their friends from school.

Relax the Screen Time Rules

As parents we know the issues associated with too much screen time and we likely instil this into our teenagers the most however, given the difficult circumstances we now find ourselves in it’s a good enough reason to relax the rules a little. Obviously you still want to ensure you teens are getting enough sleep and not staying up all night playing video games, however if they want to spend a little more time video calling friends and playing games you shouldn’t worry; we all need to be doing whatever little things help us cope during this time and not punishing ourselves for it. There are of course plenty of other ways to keep your children entertained whilst they are off school; simply letting them sit for a while and watch their favourite TV programme could be just the break they, and you, need. However, when they are getting bored we hope these activities help you think outside of the box.

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