- Read together.
- Spend time in nature.
- Play sports.
- Get creative.
- Use Technology.
- Play make-believe.
- Cook Something.
- Wash a Car.
- Remember When You Go, Poem by Rebecca Puig
The pandemic has forced us all to stay indoors, wear masks, and sanitize constantly. While these three simple actions are absolutely important (and lifesaving), the cooping up is getting to all of us.
As adults, we understand the severity and importance of what is happening to us and around us. However, our children are having a tough time facing reality. They were just learning the rules of our world and suddenly we’ve thrown it all out. No playtime, no hugs, social distancing, sanitization, and masks are all very confusing and stringent rules for the little ones to grapple with.
It is hard on them, but we can do our part to make it easy. We are doing all the housework, working from home, and have no childcare. While all of this is overwhelming for all of us, let's try to make the most of it. Usually, in the hustle and bustle of life, we tend to forget what is one of the most important jobs – creating happy memories with our kids. So, they can grow up to be happy and wholesome human beings.
So, whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or anyone responsible for the life of a little child. Here are a few simple things you can do with kids to create fond memories with them:
Some are calling this time The Great Pause. The pause that we have been forced to take. It is very little we can do at this time, except to stay indoors. And be with our loved ones.
Our children are also adjusting to a new reality. The world changed for them in a day. Now more than ever, we are their role models. They may not hear our words, but they see what we do. It’s a good time to take a break from the screen and be there for them.
The Great Pause has been a rediscovery of forgotten joys for some of us. Reading to our children is one of those. Let’s rekindle the love for stories and books in our children. Let’s read to them as much as possible. And also read a book to the child in all of us.
No matter your age or even language, you can always read to kids. Reading to a child is probably the best gift you can give in the early days. Reading stretches the imagination of kids, helps them learn a new language along with words, and not to mention, it is educational as well.
If getting your hands on physical books is not an option, start with digital books. There are several apps like Amazon Kindle, and Apple Books to get you started. There are many free books also available for download on the internet (please only download those that are copyright-free).
If the child you are reading to is young, you can start with board books with textures and pictures for little children. Preschoolers would love to read an animal theme or adventure series book. Try to pick one which has their favorite character or their favorite story.
To make it more interesting, let kids dress up and act on their favorite scene from the storybook. Watch as they turn a room into an exciting zoo, a magical forest, or a wonderland once they are into the story! It will help them forget the outside world for some time.
If you haven't read the famous poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, you should read it. It is beautiful and perfectly captures the feelings of being in nature. Especially if you spend a lot of time in the city.
We believe that nature is healing and spending time in nature helps everyone calm down and feel better, even kids. Taking kids to the park, for a walk across the river, or even to the green balcony of your city apartment can help them calm down. If you don’t have plants or access to nature, planting a sapling or sprouts can be amazing. Nurturing what you plant and grow, can go a long way. Kids understand the importance and learn to care for nature. It also helps them feel grounded and connected to the world around them.
This does not have to be a complex sport, or even a real one. You can even make one up. The idea is to help kids use their bodies and exercise while having fun. This helps build their interest in physical exercise, develops a competitive spirit in them, and helps them understand the importance of teamwork. Even if it's not possible for you to physically play with them, you can involve them in simple games of playing catch, juggling, dribbling, etc.
Doing simple DIY projects with items around the home can be fun. There are a lot of resources on the internet, pick something age-appropriate and plan. You can simply color, doodle, or cut paper and glue it to make a collage. It does not have to be a piece of art. Do what feels good. Make a mess and allow the kids to make a mess as well. Giving them the freedom to express themselves at an early age is essential. Creative activities can help in the development of better communication skills in children and make them more confident about who they are as individuals.
If you are away from your child, do not shy away from technology. It is important to develop a solid relationship with children, even if it is over the internet. Do video calls with your child, if they are older, you can do some of the activities with them over video. While it's good to ensure kids do not misuse technology, it's also important to ensure they have a relationship with significant people in their lives.
Make-believe sessions for children can be exhilarating. When a child invites you to their world, it is important to show interest and visit that world with them. It makes them feel valued, develops their imagination, and sets the foundation for forming complex thoughts and ideas. To read more about the power of imagination, you can read this article.
Research also suggests that children who spend time playing make-believe tend to perform better in life overall. For us adults, playing make-believe sprinkles a little magic in our lives, too. It makes us feel younger and happier. Have fun with the kids :)
Make something simple, not complex. Oatmeal, mac n cheese, PB&J, toast, even a mug cake in the oven, works. It does not have to be complex. The idea is to have fun with them and teach them that it is a good practice to cook. You can even make a simple salad if you like. Be careful around the kitchen with children. Teaching them about safety is also important.
When your kids are not reading or playing; give them simple tasks around the house. It can be something simple like turning on the porch lights each evening. Adding simple things to their routine can help them create a sense of routine and normalcy.
Overall, follow the basics as much as possible. Try not to change naptime and mealtime. However, also know that we are all doing our best. So, if things go haywire, it's okay. Do not feel too overwhelmed about it. Let it go and start again tomorrow.
Another way to engage with kids is doing a car wash together. It does not have to be a car, though. It can be your kids' bike, your motorbike, or any other vehicle. The idea is to spend time outside, splashing some water on each other and getting something done on your checklist. Soapy bubbles, sprinklers, splashing water and a bright sunny day outside are perfect props to build those wonderful memories together. Having fun is the most important part of the process.
As we wrap up this post, we’d like to leave you with the poem, “Remember when you go” by Rebecca Puig. A simple poem to keep us humble and grounded. A message for our kids as they go out into the world. Something we all could not only teach, but also practice as we go out in the world.
Must read for all parents