Desperately Seeking Sanity! Tips to Keep Your Children Entertained while Schools are Closed during the Fire Crisis
Indoor picnic or tea party
Lay out an outdoor tablecloth on the floor, and enjoy lunch together. Kids think it’s a big treat to do the everyday in a special place, and the floor is one of those places. Or brew up some warm tea (my daughter’s favorite is blackberry), and have a little tea time in cups with saucers, alongside crackers or sweet bread for an afternoon treat.
Create a Story
You can do this out loud or have kids write their entries on paper. Someone starts the story with "Once upon a time there lived a..." that person chooses the character and setting (princess in a faraway land). The next child tells the next part of the story, and so on around the room, the story changing with each new addition.
Have an Indoor Treasure Hunt
Make one set of clues for every player (try rhyming the clues for fun), each clue leading to the next one and, finally, to the treasure. Seal them in envelopes marked with a clue number (i.e., 2/7, or “two of seven”); this will help the treasure hunters keep track. Whoever solves the clues first and finds the treasure—a small toy, an IOU for a movie, maybe a cache of coins (regular or chocolate)—is the winner. Or have your kids play as a team to solve the clues—and uncover the treasure—together.
Camp in the Great Indoors
Who says tents have to stay outside? If you have a pop-up or small dome tent, it’s easy to set up camp for your kids indoors. If not, you can create tents by draping sheets over the couch. Make them comfy with airbeds, pillows, and sleeping bags, then follow through with an indoor picnic to be eaten “under canvas.”
Pamper Your Tired Feet
Do a little spa therapy with a homemade scrub (this one comes courtesy of New York City makeup artist Gucci Westman): Grind about two cups of oatmeal, a natural skin soother; add a few handfuls each of coffee grinds and brown sugar. Then stir in three or four spoonfuls of skin-nourishing honey, ginger, and noni extract (find it at health-food stores). Before storing the batch in the refrigerator, Westman scoops out enough for a week into a jar, which she keeps in her shower, using it daily. “It smells lovely, and it’s gentle,” she says. “When my skin feels really dry, I add olive oil, too.”
Edit Vacation Photos
Remember those pictures saved in your cameras, computers, and cell phones? This is as good a time as any to devote a chunk of time to edit those precious pictures including the glamorous selfies you had taken during the past year. During the editing process, you’ll enjoy reminiscing with your family about that great vacation, special moment, romantic dinner date, etc. For once, you might even have time to insert captions in the most significant pictures. Send them to Walmart, Costco, CVS or some other photo center to develop and plan to pick them up later.
Visit Friends on Facebook
Relay messages from your kids to their cousins, aunts, uncles, and family friends they usually don’t remember to touch base with during their busy days. Show them the latest snippets of friends and families lives including photos of their important events. Congrats may be called for and birthday wishes, even if belated, will be appreciated by the surprised recipients. Share news and photos of your family during special events. After all, you might as well make good use of the recently edited photos!
Plan the Menu for the Week
We are accustomed to running to the store several times a week to pick up items for quick meals on rare occasions when we don’t order take-out or dine at restaurants. Take a few moments to peruse the pages of your dusty cook books and recipes handed down from your grandparents. For once, you can make them proud by actually making the Jones’ pecan pie, the Smiths’ double chocolate chip cookies, or the Eggers’ lemon bars. You will enjoy the delicious treats while sharing family anecdotes with your children.
Have a Movie Date Night at Home
Spread a big blanket on the floor and toss comfy pillows across it for everyone to lounge. Pop in a movie and play it from the beginning even with the movie previews just as though you’re at the theater. Keep bowls of popcorn and beverages close at hand. Dim the lights and enjoy an entertaining and feel-good film you’ve been meaning to watch with your family.
Play a Board Game
Playing board games with your family promotes bonding and communication as well as instill a sense of fun. Though our children may campaign constantly for a new toy, game, or other trinket, they secretly appreciate quality time with us. Ten years from now, they won’t remember their birthday gifts but they will reflect fondly about the night their parents spent an hour playing Sorry or Monopoly with them and laughing with them.
Help them with School Projects
This would be good opportunity to catch up with your children about how they’re doing in school while you help them catch up with their projects. You will also receive clues about how well they manage their time. When were the projects assigned? Did your children have a plan for completing them? What other priorities do your children have and might need help to plan and execute?