Winter is never a great time for going outside all the time and getting creative, and children can quickly become bored when confined to the house. This year has been particularly challenging as the effects of COVID-19 continue, with many parks and playgrounds either closed or operating under strict social distancing conditions.
In these more challenging times, how can you and your children get creative so that they get the exercise and stimulation they need, without exhausting you and occupying your quiet spaces – especially if you are working from home some or part of the time? Here’s five ways we think can transform your home into a children’s creative paradise, that still has space and time for the parents too!
Going back to old traditions
If your children are old enough to write, get them to write a letter to a family member that you have not seen for a while. Grandparents will love to receive a letter, especially if it features newsy information from all the children, each telling their grandmother or grandfather about what they have been up to, what they think of online school, and their hopes for the future. Younger children can draw a picture, and dictate a message that you can note down for them to be included. Not only will this occupy a fair amount of time and be educational (there are a lot of transferable skills in letter-writing!) but it can be fun and reflective to sit and actively think about one’s doings over the past week or so.
Teepee Tents for their own worlds
Get the best of both worlds by getting in one of the best teepee tent for the kids – one that is sturdy enough to stand up to rough-housing and fairly weatherproof, so you can put it up outside and let your children run wild in their very own hideaway, castle or headquarters – the only limit is their imagination!
If you need some stuff done while the kids are playing, you can set up the teepee so that the children play in that area, keeping all their toys contained and being there during meetings or when parents are on the phone. Even surprisingly young children can quickly grasp the concept of their own space, and this can work really well, as long as you keep an eye on them and make sure any meetings you have are interspersed with feeding and chat breaks to make sure everything is going well.
Build a Fort
Similar to a teepee, letting the children build a fort is a great way to help them understand the concept of their space, your space and shared space. Pile cushions high – from beds or sofas or both, drape throws and spare curtains around as ‘walls’ and let the siege of the living room begin! Once again, no adults are allowed to set foot inside the fort without permission and without a ‘tax’ of snacks, and if you respect their spaces, hopefully they will learn to respect yours in return!
If your house is too compact to set aside one specific area for the children, you can set up various stations around the house, with the noisiest ones the furthest away from where you are working or from where a baby is trying to nap. These can include quiet dark spaces for rest and naps, bright and colourful crafting stations, well lined with newspaper or plastic sheets, reading nooks with inviting comfortable chairs and good lighting, and more open spaces where more physical activities can take place. Set in place some basic rules – so many children in one station at a time, for example, and make sure everyone knows to clean up after themselves as best they can (even if you do have to finish off the job later!)
Home-based Movie Theatre
As it’s coming up to Christmas why not have a movie night at home? Get in a small supply of cinema-style snacks, from popcorn to nachos and their favourite drinks, set up the living room like a cinema, with comfortable seating (which can be anything from an armchair to a beanbag!) arranged so as to allow everyone a good view of the screen. Then you can choose a film from a streaming service, time the start of the show carefully to align with a television showing of a premier or an old favourite, or simply pop in a DVD. To do the thing properly, dim the lights in the living room and tut whenever someone rustles a sweetie wrapping! Here’s a few other ideas for maximizing your home movie nights.
It is possible to survive the winter with lively and energetic children and still keep your sanity too! All you need is a little planning and some creativity!