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How to keep the kids out of your hair for an hour

By Natalie Bascur

Having your kids home with you all day, every day, trying to keep them and yourself sane while in iso has become the new norm for many of us. But it has not been easy, and for some of us, we’re still in homeschool mode for a few more weeks!

While the whole ‘Rona situ is far from ideal, there are ways to keep your kids occupied and save them from going stir crazy – and to give you an hour or so to get sh*t done around the house or deal with those 200+ emails in your inbox.

I’ve found that having a loose routine definitely helps, even things like having them still get dressed in the morning and having breakfast at a set time, and starting and ending the day with a walk around the block. With life being more unsettled than usual right now, having a schedule they are used to makes the day flow a lot smoother (and that walk helps to burn off a bit of extra energy too!)

Ways to entertain the kids and give you an hour of peace

5-8 YEAR OLDS

Have an activity jar and pick from it once a day with any of the below tasks:

  • Circuit challenge to music – do star jumps, use a skipping rope, practice somersaults, hop on one leg.
  • Limbo to music, if you have more than one child, they can manage this themselves.
  • Learn a song and dance routine that the fam all have to try (thank you, TikTok).
  • ‘Two truths, one lie’ game if you have more than two children, the older one can run the game.
  • Truth or dare, a dare could be ‘don’t say anything for 5 mins’ (heaven!)
  • Box of art and crafts, papier-mache, soap making, oil paints, colouring books, play doh.
  • Glitter tattoos – you just need stencils, glitter and some hairspray for it to stick to. Kids can do it to themselves or each other.
  • Fort making out of boxes, couch cushions, blankets, pillows etc.
  • Dress ups, all those clothes you meant to go through and donate are now at their disposal.
  • If you have a backyard, set up a scavenger hunt and hide 15 toys that will take a little while to find.
  • Indoor picnic! Get a picnic blanket or towels, set up snacks and open the windows to get some fresh air in. Everyone needs to be in charge of at least one dish to bring.
  • Draw a picture for a grandparent or someone they miss that they can’t see right now.
  • Listen to an audiobook.
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9-12 YEAR OLDS
  • Write a short story, or comic book if that’s more their thing. Get them to include one hero and one villain, that will help them focus and get them started.
  • Puzzles or Lego. Both take up a lot of time.
  • Read one short book.
  • Measuring game – measure short and long things around the room and write down dimensions in cm and mm.
  • If you have a pet cat or dog, use the time to get kids to train them with new tricks.
  • Make a floor plan for a castle or dollhouse and cut out shapes to fit.
  • Yoga or stretching – find an app they can follow to do it themselves.
  • If you have more than one child, they can take turns to be blindfolded. They then each need to name whatever is put in front of them. Aim for at least 20 each time, the key is to say the first thing that pops into their head.
  • Make a mood board of something that interests them.
  • Research a topic of choice for an hour and then present the details to the fam.
  • If you have any old magazines or catalogues, collect them and get kids collage-making.
13-18 YEAR OLDS
  • Watch a Youtube video on how to hand sew or knit and practice (quick trip to Spotlight might be required).
  • Crosswords or board games.
  • Cook the family a meal for dinner.
  • Video call friends from school or extended fam.
  • Book club – pick a book to read and discuss later.
  • Research iconic figures and why they are important, present to fam later at dinner.
  • With galleries and museums closed, read up online about works from different galleries and make notes on their fav works. Many have digital tours to view, such as the Louvre, Guggenheim and British Museum.
  • Print out a cookie, brownie or banana bread recipe that is pretty easy for teens to follow unattended.

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