With school ending abruptly and with no opportunities for the outdoors, spending a lot more time at home with the kids can take a bit of getting used to. But hey, it’s okay to admit that sometimes, having half an hour in a day to yourself sounds like the best thing in the world—especially after caring and looking out for the little one for 10 hours straight.
In fact, it is encouraged that kids are left alone for some periods of the day, too. And while the instinct may be to leave them watching TV or with an iPad, physical activity, even when indoors, can help develop their creativity, imagination, and confidence. According to Healthline.org, solitary play can benefit your children in multiple ways: It helps them learn how to solve problems, complete tasks, and develop preferences and interests, just to name a few.
Here is our list of suggestions of activities your kids can do indoors while you read a few chapters of your book or simply enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee:
Build their very first art exhibit.
Gather up the art materials you have at home—from crayons, to stickers, to play dough, to cardboard boxes—and give them the task to create the pieces for their own art exhibit. Another fun idea would be to give them a camera and encourage them to take pictures around the house, which you can print later on and add to the exhibit. Later in the day, assemble everything in a room such that it looks like an art exhibit, and tell everyone around the house to come and visit. A sense of accomplishment (and maybe a few praises) can create feelings of confidence in your kids.
Alternatively, if you have more than one kid, you can ask them to stage their very first play, complete with costumes, a stage, and a story they thought of themselves.
Create a sensory treasure chest.
Otherwise known as sensory bins, these containers can be filled up with all sorts of sensory stimuli that your kids can pick up and explore. These can be any number of things such as toys like balls, stuffed animals, toy cars, and flash cards, to random safe household items like rice, beans, sand, aquarium rocks, and birdseed. As a bonus, you can teach them to clean up by providing another container that they can fill up themselves.
Set up a house or room-wide puzzle.
One fun puzzle to keep your kids busy is to give them a set of Post-It notes to stick around the room or to match to certain items. For example, yellow Post-Its can be stuck on Dad’s things, while green ones can be stuck on Mom’s. You can get creative with this game in many ways, depending on your child’s current abilities. For older kids, the rule can be to stick blue Post-Its on items that start with a consonant, and pink ones go on items that start with a vowel.
Build them a fort.
This one’s a classic because it always works. Help them set up a fort with blankets, pillows, and chairs. Once it's up, they’ll be happily sitting in it to let their imaginations play.
Leave them with a set of books.
Make your home an environment for learning. One way you can do this is by leaving books around for them to pick up anytime. It’s even better if they have the option to pick up books on a diverse set of subjects—from fairy tales, to science, to art and culture. Even if your kid doesn’t know how to read yet, their exposure to these subjects through visuals can open them up to different worlds. This is also an opportunity for them to discover their interests—you might be surprised to find out how similar or different they are from yours!
You can do this at bedtime, too. Try leaving a few books on their bedside. Even if they go past their bedtime, you’d still be free to do the things you need knowing that they’re in good hands!
While they may not be able to play by themselves right away, eventually, their love for self-entertainment and solitude will develop. The best way to go about this is by gradually giving them opportunities for play. Soon enough, you’ll find that they are able to enjoy the things they like while you finally catch up on your favorite show or get on that video call with your friends.