It’s tough to stay productive in today’s environment. Kids are out of school, and many of you are working from home. We all know how quickly everyone can get bored—or cranky!
Whatever your situation, it’s more important than ever to stay in if you can! We know better than anyone that you’re all cooking up a storm, but what else can you do as a family to get everyone involved in between laying upside down on the couch watching tv?
As a mother who raised two girls—pretty successfully, if I do say so—here are just a few of my suggested family activities for staying at home. As a lifelong tiger mom, my motto is that not all teaching happens in school!
NOTE: Since we got the inspiration for this post a bit last minute, we didn’t have photos prepared for it. So we just looked through 7 years’ worth of family photos to find tangentially relevant pictures. Also, that featured image at the top of the post isn’t our house (we wish––would love to be quarantined in a lake house in the Adirondacks!).
Family Activities for Staying At Home
1. Learn Basic Life Skills
It’s a great time to teach young kids some basic life skills that they’ll hang on to for the rest of their lives—for example, teach them how to:
- Sew a button
- Mend an open seam
- Do laundry
- Safely boil water
- Cook their favorite dish
- Identify all the fruits and vegetables––especially the more unusual ones!
- Answer the door
- Write a check
- Balance a budget
I’m sure you can come up with a lot more of these kinds of day-to-day lessons based on your kids’ age and family’s unique circumstances.
2. Have a Family Cooking Lesson or Cook-off
I know you are already busy cooking and baking, but it’s an excellent time to make sure kids and young adults are involved. You can start out small and easy, and challenge your kids to make progressively more complex recipes.
The girls and their cousins used to have family Iron Chef competitions! They had so much fun, with us parents serving as judges. And with success comes confidence—the best thing a parent can instill in our kids.
3. Fix Something Broken in the House
This applies to everyone in the house. Each person picks a broken thing that’s been lying around in need of mending. Maybe it’s patching up a cracked wall, touching up some paint, changing a lightbulb, or rewiring an old lamp. With the help of YouTube, you can pretty much fix anything these days. Learning how to fix something also teaches our kids that things can often be repaired rather than sent to a landfill.
4. Start a Garden
Do you know that leafy greens can germinate in temperatures as low as 40-45 degrees? Even though we have some chilly days here and there, depending on where you live, now is definitely the time to start a garden (or potted garden if you live in an urban environment), prepare the soil, and sow seeds for late spring and early summer vegetables.
5. Learn About a Topic That’s Interesting to the Whole Family
For example, our family loves camping. Perhaps you’ve always thought about planning a camping trip but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Take a look at different types of tents and other gear, tips on camp cooking, different activities to plan, the best seasons to go, trip costs/budget, etc.
We have many camping trips in our travel section that can serve as inspiration. If camping doesn’t sound appealing, there is a lot to learn on any topic you can come up with. Now is a great time to do the research and plan ahead!
6. Start a Family Blog!
It’s easier than ever to start your own blog. Every member of the family (and even extended family) can upload recipes and photos, share updates and stories, and swap cooking tips.
Our family members are definitely the biggest users of our own blog. I know you can do all of these on some of the social platforms, but a family blog is truly your own little community and central personal record! Think of it as a on-going family reunion.
7. Start a Family Book Club
It’s a great way to practice critical thinking, communication, and to build self-awareness and empathy for others. Through discussion, we can really learn about each other and how each person thinks. Start a book club with your family, extended family and/or circle of friends! Then you can all get together on FaceTime to discuss what you’ve read.
8. Talk More
Make time and space to talk about everyone’s needs and concerns, and help each other establish plans to address them. We all have some unspoken issues that get put on the back burner when everyone is busy. Now that we all have a little more free time, it’s a good time to sort things out and find solutions. A great place to do that is the dinner table!
9. FaceTime Family Members (Including Extended Family) to Catch Up
Everyone’s probably already doing this, but take time to reach out to family members you may not see as often or talk to regularly. I always walk away more satisfied and energized after a live conversation than texting or email.
Don’t forget to teach the elders how to use FaceTime or Zoom. That might take a half of your day, but then again, you are in no rush and they’d love to see your faces!
10. Spring Clean
Everyone can be responsible for cleaning out their own room and then work together on public spaces like the garage, basement or shed. A clean and well-organized space brings a sense of calm and relaxation, which is especially important during this time.
It’s also a good time to clean out unwanted items and save them for a donation to your local church, Goodwill, or other charity organization.
11. Do Some Interesting Crafts
Learning how to crochet, how to knit, how to make jewelry, or even how to whittle (Kaitlin’s new hobby) are all relaxing and functional life skills. Sarah got into crocheting blankets as a teenager and taught it to her friend Mark. In turn, Mark taught the same to his brother John and friend Trevor. They have made a lot of crocheted blankets and donated them to local charities! Kaitlin got very into knitting in high school, and had a brief business venture in selling knitted iPod sleeves!
I know it was satisfying for the two of them to challenge themselves to make pretty much anything they could dream up as kids. Plus, I have some very nice hand-knit gloves to show for it!
12. Make a Family Album
I don’t know if people get photos printed anymore, but I don’t think it’s a tradition that should die off in the digital age! I know my girls still enjoy looking through old family albums from their childhood, and Sarah has started to print photos and make her own.
13. Introduce Your Family to the Classics
I always felt it was my responsibility to direct Sarah and Kaitlin to watch movies that I thought were classics. Depending on your kids’ ages, you’ll have to adjust, but a little pop culture education can be just as valuable as learning standard history.
The girls used to love watching The Sandlot. One of my favorites is The Emperor’s Club, which I’d recommend all kids watch. The girls also love When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, and Driving Ms. Daisy.
Pop some popcorn and put on your favorites!
14. Play Outside
If you have a yard, get out and play some old-fashioned lawn games––badminton, Kan Jam, or even just tag. The girls (who live in a city) are itching to get outside more, since they’ve been sheltering in place in their apartments.
If you have the advantage of your own outdoor space, use it as it gets warmer!
15. Think About What You Can Do to Help
Have the family put their heads together and make a donation to those in need during this time of crisis, with money contributed by every member of the family. This can help them think through their savings and their other financial goals as well.
If money is tight, you can also figure out other ways to help, whether it’s helping an elderly neighbor buy groceries, cooking and packing meals for someone, or sewing handmade masks if your local hospital is asking for them.
All that said, this time doesn’t necessarily have to be filled with constant productivity. You can also take the opportunity to take a much needed break from the fast pace of your normal schedule, and reflect on the truly important things in life––your family and friends.