Tips and Ideas to Stay Active
How is your family coping with the sudden “homeschooling opportunity”?
Being homebound may be met with a variety of emotions from excitement to feeling overwhelmed, especially if you also find yourself and your spouse working from home! Erin Basile Sears shared some of her experiences during this sudden change, “I had been dealing with a lot of anxiety around this until my one year old helped me snap out of it! My spinning thoughts slowed down as I observed him playing so contently, and he even took his first steps! This opportunity to slow life down maybe a precious blessing in disguise. I tend to be so busy that I often miss the simple joys in life. This extra time has provided a reconnection (and rediscovery) to our roots, almost like that beautiful postpartum period when building a new family was the goal”.
Here are some ideas from the Sears family to help keep your family entertained, mentally stimulated, and relating to each other through healthy activities while being homebound.
General Tips for Healthy Activities
- Decide if your household runs more peacefully on a schedule or with a more go-with-the-flow pace. Perhaps it’s a flexible schedule or different every day, both of which are ok!
- Open the windows when inside and go in the front or backyard multiple times throughout the day.
- Have an honest discussion with your spouse or other adults living in the home about your personal needs. Find ways to support each other even if it’s as simple as a 30-minute “mommy time-out”, aka, time for mom to unplug in whatever way is nourishing for her.
- Invite each member to make a list of favorite treats or activities and put them into a “Things to look forward to” bin. Use this as a lifeline when needed, or as a goal for the end of the day.
- Breathe! This is NOT an easy situation, so please have extra grace and patience for yourself and your household. Set a timer for 5 minutes each hour to remind everyone for quiet time or “mind mute”.
Ways to Stay Active While Homebound
Physical activity is proven to lower stress, improve learning ability, and is a fun way to pass the time. Here are indoor and outdoor ideas to try while homebound:
- Family yoga time. Cosmic Kids Yoga.
- Dance party/freeze dance. Each family member takes a turn choosing the music.
- Book-worm workout. Choose a book that has a repeated word like The Cat in the Hat. Every time someone reads the word “Cat”, your kids do a jumping jack.
- Balloon volleyball.
- Hallway “laser” maze. Put zig-zag tape from various heights and challenge kids to get through the maze without touching the “laser”.
- Sidewalk-chalk hopscotch
- Walking the dog
- Hula hoop
- Workout scavenger hunt. Write out a lot of simple exercises like “10 jumping jacks” on paper and hide them around the yard. Whoever finds the “move” must partake. Consider having a prize for whoever finds the most!
- Sidewalk-chalk obstacle course. Write out things like hop like a bunny, spin around, hop on one foot, touch your toes, clap, and jumping jacks.
Tips to Stimulate the Senses
It’s easy to catch “cabin fever” while homebound, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create stimulating activities for your little one and join in the fun. Here are some educationally stimulating activities:
- Rice sensory bin. Simply fill a large container with rice using kitchen tools like a strainer, soup ladle, measuring cups, and let young toddlers enjoy pouring the rice, using the tools, into the bin over and over. For older toddlers and preschoolers, hide small objects in the rice and let them guess what the object is before pulling it out – and let their imagination/curiosity do the rest. For readers, hide letters or numbers and have them fish them out and make words with what they are finding, or simply work on the letter sounds. Be careful with the rice – you may wind up needing to cook it for supper. And that could be part of the fun!
- Water pouring station. Find a large/low storage container like an under-the-bed storage tub and place multiple containers of various sizes in the tub. Your toddler will enjoy practicing his or her pouring skills!
DIY tape road. Use masking tape (or painter’s tape if you have wood floors) to create roads and parking spots, then have your kiddos drive their favorite toy vehicles along the different patterns.
- Pudding-paint alphabet game. Clean a surface such as a table and have kids spread the pudding with their hands. Then draw pictures, play Pictionary, or practice their letters/spelling. Pudding treat to follow! Here is a recipe idea.
Healthy Screen Time/Education
- Plan a virtual playdate with your kids’ best friends and let them do a craft together.
- Free educational subscription such as kidsactivies.com
- Earn free-play screen time. Have kids earn screen time by doing chores, following directions, and being kind to each other.
This gift of time is rare and precious, yet you may be struggling with stress and anxiety during this homebound time. Draw near to your lifelines which begin at home
- Morning mental-health check-in. Set the stage for family members to share how they are feeling or ask questions. This is a judgment-free zone filled with connection opportunities for all!
- Gardening/yard work. Getting your hands in some dirt is proven to lower stress! Pick some flowers and greens to bring the beauty of the outside in. Surprise a family member with a hand-picked bouquet.
- Cooking and baking. Do you have any bucket list recipes? Be adventurous and try something new! Or make cookies to take to the neighbors who seem lonely. Let them know you are coming with a surprise that you will leave at the door. Think of it as “door dash” with giggles.
- Family pen-pal time. Write letters to family members or friends. Nursing homes are also in need of connection, so mail letters of hope to your local elderlies.
- Spread neighborly cheer! Use chalk to decorate your sidewalk with silly and inspiring pictures and sayings. Or put your Christmas lights back up!
Written by Martha Sears, RN