Back in the Cretaceous period, when I was at school, I would have given my eyeteeth for three unexpected weeks off from school, even if it came with the price tag of a global viral pandemic attached to it. Of course, kids tend to lack perspective (and have ego in spades) so I may be forgiven for being so selfish. But three weeks is a long time, even for me, and with strict orders to remain inside, it’s only a matter of time before kids get bored of watching TV, sleeping in, and watching more TV. Never fear, parents, there’s plenty to do without setting foot outside! Here are some recommendations on keeping the little ones occupied…

# 1. Get a little artsy and craftsy

Don’t just throw paper and a box of crayons at your kids and expect them to entertain themselves all afternoon…roll your own sleeves up and get creative with them! Spend a designated hour or two with your children creating things, whether they’re just works of art or trinkets with practical applications. You could paint pictures, put together photo collages, create art for the kids’ rooms, craft pottery, decorate furniture, or even make furniture. Using craft glue, paints, glitter, string, and dried macaroni, while away the afternoon making a total mess of the dining room table and having the best time doing it.

Here are some ideas for arts and crafts to do with the kids:


# 2. Whip out the old board games and puzzles

Expose your children to the sublime joys of playing good old-fashioned board games, from Monopoly, Cluedo, and Trivial Pursuit to Rummy Cub, 30 Seconds, Scrabble, or even Chess, if you’re a total nerd. It’s something the whole family can do together, unlike those antisocial TV and computer games kids are obsessed with nowadays.

# 3. Teach your kids about money

Most of us learned how to manage our money the hard way (some of us are still learning the hard way) but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way for your children. Teach them about the best practices for managing money and the responsibility and discipline it takes to accumulate wealth. Using money, real or imaginary (jelly beans work a treat for younger kids), teach them about buying, saving, calculating, budgeting, and managing expenses. You might even throw in a few more complex terms like compound interest and co-ordinated frictionless functionalities. Just kidding.

Need a little help? Here are some resources to use when teaching your kids about money matters:

# 4. Teach your kids useful life skills

Most of us know how to change a light bulb and an array of other household chores and skills but, unless we had kind and patient parents showing us how, it took a little trial and error to get there. If you or your partner is a little handy, why not teach your kids to follow in your footsteps? Show them how to hang pictures, fix up furniture, paint a wall, and unclog the toilet (in theory, unless you’re a method teacher). If you’re savvy with cars, show them how to flip the hood, change a tyre, check and replace the oil, and top up the water, etc.

Whatever it is you’re good at – sewing clothing, balancing chequebooks, baking bread, woodworking, etc. – teach your kids the ropes. One day, when they’re stuck in the middle of Voetsekville with a flat tyre or their child has flushed their doll down the toilet again, they will thank you.

# 5. Employ your kids as sous chefs and teach them to cook

If you ever doubted the ability of young children to work responsibly with knives, hot ovens, and stovetops, just watch MasterChef Junior. There are eight-year-olds turning out better boeuf bourguignon than Julia Child herself. With careful instruction in safety and a watchful eye, there’s no reason why your children can’t learn to, at the very least, put together a sandwich. They might even return to school able to make their own packed lunches, thereby saving you a good 15 minutes every morning!

This could also be an excellent opportunity for you to expand your own cooking repertoire; take your kids along for the ride. And if they’re resistant, tempt them with baked treats, which they can scoff once they’ve helped you make it.

Here are some easy recipes and ideas to start out with:

# 6. Get your kids involved in caring for their home

It doesn’t matter if you can afford an army of domestic workers…you should still know how to clean your own home. Besides, with everyone on lock down it’s up to you to do all the hard work and since your kids are a part of the household, they too should pull their weight. Does it make you a monster for making them help you wash the dishes, mop the floors, mow the lawn, and scrub the toilet? In their eyes, definitely, but in the grand scheme of things, your children will learn the work that goes into maintaining a clean, tidy, and hygienic home and a beautiful garden.

If they refuse to help out for generosity’s sake, pull the plug on the Wi-Fi and watch the apocalypse unfold.

# 7. Family workout sessions

The running joke at the moment is that everyone’s going to emerge from lockdown 10 kg heavier (and very likely, alcoholic). Well, with every second person on YouTube and Instagram having their own series of workout videos this just doesn’t need to be the case! Find a workout series that suits your space and fitness level, and get the whole family jumping about the living room exercising.

Here are a few family friendly workouts to try:

# 8. Plant a herb garden / veggie patch

The grocery store is a dystopian landscape with empty shelves and half-crazed zombie people who will bark at you if you accidentally step within their two-metre bubble. How on Earth are you going to fill your larder? By growing your own food! Most kids love getting their hands dirty and the fruits of your efforts will literally be fruits…and vegetables, herbs, leafy greens, and all the nutritious foods you need to keep your immune system strong and vital.

If you’re unable to procure seeds and seedlings at the moment…no worries: try growing the seeds from the fruits in your fruit basket and the vegetables in your pantry. In many cases, herbs like basil and rosemary can be shoved into soil, where they’ll take root. It might take some time before you can harvest but at least it’ll give the kids something to focus their attention on.