The public health response to COVID-19 has ramped up, and parents all over the country are preparing to be stuck at home indefinitely due to school closures and social distancing efforts. What’s a mom to do in these unprecedented circumstances? Take a deep breath, close that Apple News app, and let’s get through this together (but not, you know, at large social gatherings).
Here are a few ideas for indoor fun with preschoolers when you’re scraping the bottom of the toy box:
Bathtub Art Gallery – Kids. Love. Water. So let them go wild! Change into swimsuits, don goggles, and turn the tiles surrounding your bathtub into large-scale art installations. Vary the textures by using shaving cream or mousse, bubble bath, colored toothpaste, hand lotion, or shampoo – a great way to use up those mini bottles from hotels. To add color, use skin-safe food coloring or Crayola bath dropz. When you’re done, just wipe down and start again. The trick here is to NOT let your kids control the faucet.
Olympic Games of Goofiness – The pros may not be competing, but your kids still can! Hop on YouTube and show them some videos of weird Olympic sports, then have your little athletes recreate those sports in charade form. (This is particularly laugh-inducing for oddball events like dressage, ski jump, rhythmic gymnastics, speed walking, etc.) Hand an older child a microphone (or a wooden spoon) to do the play-by-play announcing. For added patriotism, make medals out of aluminum foil and ribbon and let them take the stage to the national anthem of their choosing.
Camping in the Great Indoors – Sadly, most vacations are off the table right now, so dust off your gear and build an indoor campsite, complete with tent and sleeping bags instead. Put on your sunhat and lead your tykes on hikes around your imaginary national park. (My kids get a kick out of recreating real family hikes we’ve taken.) Hide stuffed animals around the house, use a laundry basket as a kayak, and see what wildlife they can spot as they take turns pushing and paddling. The possibilities are endless here: craft binoculars out of paper tubes; roast marshmallows over a candle; get a clipboard and pretend to study animals – or family members – like scientists do. (My 4-year-old loves tracking the feeding habits of the wild “Dada.”)
Christmas Whenever – It’s the second most wonderful time of the year! Turn on your favorite Christmas music, make pipe cleaner ornaments to hang on a fake tree (a branch stuck in play-doh works well), and decorate cookies with anything you have on hand – sprinkles, raisins, chocolate chips, whatever. To really get into the spirit, hang socks on the mantle, turn out the lights and read the Christmas story from the Bible, and help your kids wrap a couple of old toys to give each other as gifts – to be opened when they wake up from nap, of course.
Hope that buys you at least a couple hours of much-needed fun on a dreary day! Need extra ideas? Here’s a giant crowdsourced Google doc of dozens more. Help another mama out by adding your favorites!
Emma Finley lives in beautiful Alameda, California with her husband and two talkative kiddos. As a veteran MOPS leader, she keeps a list of the lessons she has learned from her fellow MOPS mamas, starting with: “It’s OK to lock your kids out of the bathroom when you have to pee.”