Is it just me, or is everyone sick right now? It seems you can’t scroll through social media without reading about another virus or illness sweeping through classrooms and childcare centers. My kids just got over another cold– there have been so many since September that I’ve completely lost track. But it’s not completely unexpected. After two years of social distancing, masking, and reduced extracurricular and social engagements, this year’s cold and flu season has hit particularly hard as toddlers, kids and teens build back some immunity to common colds and viruses. Just because it is expected or normal, doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting and stressful for parents and children alike. Missed school days, missed activities, and missed work days all lead to an increase in staying at home and feeling cooped up.
To help ease the long days at home, we’ve rounded up some easy-to-execute activities for every energy level to keep your kids entertained.
1. Hit the Showers! (or the bathtub)
When you’re in the throes of illness, the shower or bathtub is a great place for both easing symptoms and keeping kids contained. My kids love the water, and they find it particularly exciting if we pop their bathing suits on before heading in.
Some great water activities include:
- Throw some glow sticks in the water, turn off the lights and have a light party.
- Shaving Cream Painting: Spray some unscented shaving cream into a bowl, drop in some food coloring, and away you go (with hands or paintbrushes)!
- Bathtub markers or watercolour paints
2. Build a Fort
I have yet to meet a child that doesn’t like being in a fort (or building them). We keep it really simple around here– a couple of dining chairs and some blankets. If I’m also sick and can’t muster up the energy to pull the dining chairs out, I will toss a sheet over the dining table and call it a day. Throw in a flashlight, glow sticks, some pillows and and a few toys and most kids will happily play, rest or read in the fort for at least a half hour.
3. Art Attack
I’m a big fan of keeping it simple when it comes to art. One of my favourite activities from when I used to work in a daycare was the Imagination Market. If you’ve never heard of an Imagination Market, it’s essentially a box with a whole bunch of random items in it. Have an old tupperware lid? Toss it in. Random buttons? Into the bin. Scraps of paper? Imagination Market. The goal is to have a vast assortment of objects to create art with. I have small kids, so they are happy when I pull out the glue and scissors for them to use, but at daycare, we used to provide a prompt. A great one was “Build a monster/robot/imaginary creature” using the items found in this box.
If you’re looking to start your own “Imagination Market” box, I highly recommend checking out Urban Source on Main Street in Vancouver. They have a great assortment of reclaimed materials and interesting art supplies to pick and choose from. But if you’re short on time, just pop recycling material, tape and markers into the box as a starting point.
4. Listen & Learn
Screens can be a lifesaver when kids are sick, but once you’re over the worst of it and energy starts to come back, you might be looking for a few alternatives. We’ve used all of these options when we’re on the go or for long car rides as well.
If your children are small or love having books read to them, there are some great YouTube channels where authors (or teachers) will read picture books. Some of our favourites are My Cozy Corner and Books Read Aloud.
There are some great podcasts geared toward all ages. We like listening to stories, but older children might find a podcast about science, history or how things work to be of interest. Here is a great list of some kid-friendly podcasts and where you can listen to them
If you have a library card, you can download audiobooks for free through their various apps (depending on whether you are a member of VPL or FVRL).
But if you can’t find what you want or the title you are looking for isn’t available, you might want to try Audible. If someone in your family already has a membership, it’s easy to search for and download a variety of kids’ books. If not, you can try most of the children’s books for free or sign up for a one-month free trial.
5. Get outside!
Whenever possible, we get outside when we are in the recovery phase of illness. Whether that is a couple of hours in the yard or a walk around the local lake, being outdoors helps everyone feel better and eliminates our cabin fever.
If you’re looking for more great activities to do at home, check out 101 Things to Do At Home!