2020 was the year that time forgot. While there were some brief breathing spaces where travel and socialising opened up, for many people it was a time of extreme physical distancing and a return to a somewhat simpler life. Some of us enjoyed a small break from our working lives, until it was later revealed that there is almost nothing that cannot be done remotely.
However, without the extra time spent in the car, on the bus, or on the train, a large majority were just left with so much time. Or so much time with their children.
Working from home, or even as an overtired caretaker it can be easy to let the TV do the babysitting – for yourself and your children! But it is well-known that watching too much television can be very bad for you. Not only is a sedentary lifestyle not great for your heart1, but the content can dull your mind2 and can lead to addictive behaviour3 and poor social skills.
Here are some great ideas for home activities that even young children can easily participate in, and won’t break the bank:
1. Tidying up with Marie Kondo
Have you Netflixed this show yet? Marie Kondo* goes into people’s houses and tidies them up. A great way to peel everyone away from screen time could be some enforced screen time, demonstrating exactly how to tidy cupboards and fold clothes and then time to put this into action. If you haven’t done it yet, you are really, really missing out. The method of folding clothes is simple, effective, and quite fun. It’s a great activity to do solo for some peaceful me time, or as a group to bond over.
2.“Upcycle” some old clothes
Have you been a little too good and throwing away old clothes, and now your “toss” pile has left you bereft of actual wearable clothing? Make do and mend! Noone needs to see the end result, after all, it’s lockdown. Some great (and easy) changes that you can make to clothes includes:
- Cutting jeans to make some sweet cutoff shorts
- Removing sleeves from long-sleeve tops to create sleeves t-s for your tidying mission
- Getting crafty with non-toxic paint to create an artistic t-shirt
- Shearing necklines and hemlines for makeshift “dresses” that can be worn for painting purposes.
- Making simple masks to wear in public to protect against Coronavirus transmission with offcuts and string.4
3. Paint a picture
Being artistic is easy. Grab a big sheet of paper (you can find large rolls of white* quite easily or even use recycled brown paper rolls*) and cut to whatever size you want. Then look around the house for anything you can make some texture or colour with. Some examples are:
- Old pieces of fabric or offcuts from old clothing
- Non-toxic glue
- Old magazines/newspapers
You can allow everyone to create at the same time and let the individual pictures merge together in the middle for something truly unique and wonderful. And if it’s too big? When dry you can always cut it up.
4. Create an old nail polish craft project
Did you find a lot of old make-up in that clear out? What about a load of crusty old varnishes? If you did, creating artwork out of this leftover polish is a great way to clean out the bottles so that you can recycle them. Since this artwork requires the use of toxic chemicals, make sure to supervise and offer only to older children.
5. “Bake” some healthy no-bake sweet treats
There’s nothing more delicious than the sweet taste of a dessert you’ve homemade. Why not try something like this delicious no-bake vegan chocolate orange fudge. It’s refined sugar, dairy and additive-free and suitable for sensitive tummies. Just make sure that the ingredient prep is done by the adults and mix together as a group. This is one activity that has a very fun reward.
6. Grow something
About to throw out all those old tupperware or takeaway containers? Wait! Stop! You can usually get seeds for herbs and vegetables at your local supermarket. Grab some compost and you’re ready to start your own window-sill greenhouse.
- Fill an old container with cut pieces of toilet roll card (now a use for the thousand toilet rolls you panic bought) so that they form rows of circles around an inch and a half high
- Add compost to just below the top of the card
- Push in seeds below the surface – check the seed packet for when to plant
- Place on windowsill and cover with plastic lid or wrap
- Water regularly, as directed by the instructions on the seed packet
- When ready transfer to larger pots in a greenhouse
You can easily start to grow many fruits, vegetables and herbs from seed on your windowsill with such little effort. It is a fun activity and you can keep tracking the growth for months of quarantine to come!
Hopefully within this article you will have found at least one activity that you can do, either alone or with your housemates, or as a family. As long as you keep them away from the sharp scissors or hot stoves there is nothing here that young children won’t be able to do – and nothing that will cost you the world either!