So we’re staying indoors, most schools haven’t opened in a year and we’ve got kids at home who need to stay busy. I get it. My two boys have endless energy and I’m quickly running out of ideas. Seems funny, when schools shut last year, I was wondering how I’d keep them busy at home for 2 months of summer, but here we are a whole year later.  It’s been like a whole year-long summer break, only with fluctuating weather and fewer options of entertainment. But staying home and staying safe, is the most important thing to do right now. 

My own memories of summer are filled with days of endless play, roadside cricket, swimming lessons, climbing trees, eating raw mangoes and popsicles. But we’re in the midst of a pandemic, so we’ll have to alter and adjust the activities a bit, but nonetheless, our kids can make some great memories they’ll remember for years to come. 

I’m keeping this list simple and practical because I know all us mamas need just that. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have too much patience with planning elaborate activities or cleaning up a whole lot of extra mess. Remember, these are just some ideas, some may work for you or none may fit into your scheme of things. The most important thing right now is to stay home and stay safe. But if you are looking for some easy ideas, I got you.  

Get them in the kitchen: This is not just fun but beneficial in so many ways. It’ll be a great way to introduce your child to cooking and you can involve them in making healthy treats for themselves. For some reason, kids enjoy what they’ve cooked a little more than the food that is served to them. You can find simple moulds online to make popsicles or your kids can whiz up simple milkshakes and fruit juices with a little help. If you like baking, you can help them make little muffins and tea cakes. Yes, it might be a little messier and take a bit longer with the kids, but these food memories will stay with them for years to come. Even better, they’ll build some expertise in the kitchen along the way.

Board games & Puzzles: In the age of digital games and tabs, most of us might have forgotten the joy of board games. The good thing about them is that you have options for all ages. Candy land, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Monopoly, Pictionary, the list can go on. A good old carrom board can keep your kids pretty busy too. They don’t need to score, they can have plenty of practice instead or even make their own game. Remember the point is to have fun with your kids, more than following rules to the tee.  Let them win, it’ll boost their confidence and when you lose, you can show them how to be a good sport about it. Bring out the puzzles. It’ll teach your kids spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, patience and concentration. When summer is done, with the help of a little mod podge, you can stick the puzzle together and frame it for their room. This is literally framing their memories. How precious is that!

Backyards picnics: While we need to stay indoors and stay safe, it doesn’t have to stop us from making memories. Make all the arrangements like you would for a picnic outdoors. Pack your snacks, juice, a board game or two, some music, a little blanket and set it up in your backyard or balcony. If you have a kiddy tent, set that up. There’s something kids find very inviting about cosy little setups. Some bubbles and balloons can add to the magic too. And of course, click plenty of pictures.  

A toy pool: This has been a real treat for my kids. The small pools will do for most children. Bigger is nice if you have space but also consider the water it’ll need. You can place it in your backyard, balcony or even in your bathroom. I get my boys dressed in their swimwear, throw in some water toys and let them splash around.  Make sure they’re supervised if they’re very young kids. This has by far been the most fun summer activity for my kids. 

Books & storytelling: We know all the benefits of books. They’re great for improving vocabulary, sparking curiosity and imagination and nonetheless books are a great way to bond with our children. Most of us perhaps already have a book reading routine in the house. How about we just liven up our reading time. Include hand puppets, dress up like the characters, dramatise your reading and parents can take turns. And have a pile of all kinds of books; some for reading, some for colouring, some for stickers, scratch pads or doodling maybe. And before you think of buying an endless number of books, see how you can get wise around it. Exchange books with the neighbourhood kids maybe or download free audiobooks. Older kids can also journal. It’ll give them a creative outlet, keep them busy, encourage expression and be a great holder of all their summer memories. 

Let them pick a hobby: All this free time with no online learning is a great time to hone a new skill. Get to know your child’s interests and help them nurture them. If you play an instrument, you could get your child started on it too. Music, dance, painting, singing. Find out what interests them. My kids and I spent a lot of time earlier this year, learning the flags of countries. I enjoyed it just as much and in the bargain learned so much too. 

I hope this list has been of help to you. When everything around you can get overwhelming, take a step back and a deep breath. We’re living in unusual circumstances and our children might find it just as hard to cope. Make some memories together and your kids will remember feeling safe and loved even when everything around them felt strange. Stay home, stay safe.