After working at full-time jobs for 10 years, I must say that being a stay-at-home-mom who works from home is a lot tiring than that. Especially during this lockdown or extended holidays as my kids, aged 7 and 3, call it. When we took them for a drive to feel the fresh air, two months into the lockdown, I realized that they did not miss the outside world one bit. I was surprised.
Then a few parents asked me how I was managing the house, handling the kids as well as posting on Instagram, editing the videos for the same and volunteering around our apartment complex. They wanted to know what to do with their kids. I didn’t know how to respond at first because I was just doing whatever I could. I told them how we were spending our time indoors. But, a lot of my activities involved my presence. My husband and my father in law help quite a bit with the house chores, so, I am able to spend quality time with the kids and complete my work, too.
I admit that I made up for all the sleep I lost while my kids were breastfeeding babies. During the school holidays, we had no time-table. We would sleep around 4am and wake up around 1pm. Yes, I would let them snooze as much as they liked with no restrictions on wake up times. We would do several activities and leave the rest for the next day. When the online classes began, we were back on schedule. Then Karnataka banned online classes and we went back to weird timings. Now, we have to snooze early so that we can attend the online classes every alternate day. But they do sleep till late as I do not wake them up just because they have to whenever they have classes.
Of course, my daughter did miss some of her friends but WhatsApp and Zoom were there to see them unlike 30 years ago when we went through a lockdown because of the Gulf War. So, I figured this list was important about how we kept the kids engaged and happy during the long holiday.
Firstly, we sat the kids down and explained to them what was happening around the world. We also taught them the word ‘pandemic’ and why we were not allowed to get out of our homes. When we got to know that our son thought that we would turn into zombies if we went outside, we did not correct him until we had to get out for essentials a couple of weeks later.
We allotted some time to teach the kids to thank God for all that he has given us. We could have been in worse situations. I also told my kids how blessed we were compared to many people around the country and, therefore, they must thank God every single night before they slept. If you are reading this, you are quite blessed too!
Instead of putting them in front of the screen while I did some chores around the house, I would ask them to help. They have helped me with gardening, hanging clothes to dry, clearing up their toys, putting their things in place, etc. My daughter also learnt to wash the dishes and helps with that sometimes. My son would sort onions just for fun.
After breakfast, we would usually sit on the dining table (which was covered with art and craft supplies) and create different artworks. I introduced my daughter to Mandalas, Zentangles, Mixed media and more. My son would colour the pictures in his colouring book.
I would regularly play Simple Simon and make them do simple exercises like jumping jacks, planks, push ups, sit ups, roll overs, etc. On some days, we would also do yoga and try 100 rounds of hula hooping. I also taught them to skip. Chasing the ball, with their heads, seems to excite my toddler!
This is very important to reduce sibling rivalry until they are older. I make it a point to send them into the room to play, every day, with each other while keeping my ears open. I have noticed that when they are together, they create obstacle courses which may or may not work, they do a lot of role play, they have picnics and tea parties in their tent and also manage to play hide and seek or zombie apocalypse within our humble abode.
I found this lockdown the best time to introduce them to my board games that were gathering dust all these years. I have two Scrabble boards; one from when I was 7 and one that I bought when I was around 27, so, I taught my daughter on the older one. Another new travel game we got recently was Dobble. This game is for 6+ years but my 3-year-old son also wanted to be a part of it, so, learnt it eventually. We also play Chess, Cluedo, Pictionary, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Boggle, etc.
My daughter has learnt a bit of the keyboard and harmonium, so she would practice it once a week. She also practices her Hindustani Classical vocals. If you are good at playing an instrument, this is the best time to teach your kids the basics at the least.
I sat with the kids and implemented quite a few DIY activities from YouTube. We made photo frames, tic tac toe boards, lampshades, masks and more. We melted all the leftover crayons at home and created new ones. We also stitched outfits for our dolls and enjoyed several activities from the Firstcry intellikit boxes. I made my son write his alphabets and numbers in the sand. He found that more exciting than writing on paper. We have stuck our magnetic alphabets and numbers on the fridge, so my son has to organize them in some way, regularly. They learn to identify alphabets like that. Oh, we also tried treasure hunts and the likes to keep them excited and busy.
We got an opportunity to learn Japanese from a very enthusiastic teacher who spent around 5 years in Tokyo. My daughter enjoyed it because she was determined to order her next sushi dish in Japanese. You can call or WhatsApp +91 6360 866 252 in case you are interested in learning Japanese.
Of course, this was fireless cooking, so, they enjoyed making sandwiches and fruit candies. My daughter also took baking classes which helped all of us learn a bit about baking. We had a chocolate high that whole month as it was classes for kids and kids love chocolate. You can register here with MY PLAYDATE GROUP for various classes depending upon your kids’ ages (4 years to 14 years).
While we were forbidden from visiting the salons, I thought of doing a couple of spa sessions with the kids. We would sit with our feet in hot water, mixed with rose crystals, for half an hour before we scrubbed and washed our feet. Nail art and manicure sessions were more regular as my daughter loves painting her nails as well as my son’s.
In Bangalore, we are already beach deprived and with the lockdown preventing us from driving to any beach nearby, we had to think of alternatives. Every now and then I would create a beach atmosphere in the tub. They always keep toys besides the bathtub even otherwise. The kids used slime as ‘sand’ and wore their swimsuits and had a blast for 2 hours at least.
Besides playing and having fun, I made sure they did some bit of studying too. Both my kids had homework, allotted by me, to finish during the holidays. My daughter filled up her Cursive Writing, Spell Success and Olympiad books while my son finished his Montessori books. Even in the activity boxes by Firstcry, Flintobox, etc., there are worksheets to keep the little ones busy. Story House Mumbai also has very interesting worksheets that helped my 3-year-old learn new things.
When I got to know the benefits of coding for kids, I was determined to introduce my daughter to it. It helps the kids to facilitate creativity, learn problem-solving and computational skills, understand the technology around them and build their confidence. My daughter took quite an interest in it so she has continued with it. There are several places to enroll your kids – Robochamps, Camp K12, Tinyverse, Vendantu, Whitehat Jr, etc.
There are so many learning apps for kids aged 4 to 10. Instead of spending their time playing games all the while, we make them play on these apps for half of their allowed screen time. It also teaches them to follow instructions. This one was quite good for the younger kids – Pschool.in.
Sometimes, we watched movies along with the kids mostly during mealtime or after that. You can check out my posts on Netflix and Amazon Prime and also watch movies like Grown Ups and other Christmas movies with them while snacking on pancakes or popcorn.
Even if you have no kids, you can enjoy these for hours. Check here for more ideas on how to stay busy. Karaoke and Smule have kept us busy for 5 hours a day at times. I find it to be a stress buster too.
We love just turning on the music and dancing for no reason. You get to see the different moves your kids can do and enjoy this time together. Also, Flames School of Dance has online dance classes for kids. You can contact them on WhatsApp +91 96738 80099 in case you are interested.
With the various video calling options these days, staying in touch has never been easier. If you have the time, the technology and the will to keep in touch, nothing can stop you from communicating with your loved ones and close friends who are miles away from you.
In case the above does not work for you and your child is disturbed, please visit a behavioural analyst to identify your child’s issue, if any. Here is one, that I know of in Mumbai, India, who does online consultations too.
Pooja Kapoor Kathuria
Behavior therapist/ Special educator
[email protected] * +91 9833066614
You see, along with us, our kids are also locked inside. Having them at home all the time does not have to be difficult if you set your priorities straight. We had made a lot of plans to learn bike riding, swimming and skating during the summer holidays. But with the entry of Corona, all the plans turned into smoke. Still, we tried to make the most of our time together indoors and we have seemed to have succeeded until now. Today we got to know that positive cases in Bangalore have risen like crazy and a re-lock is scheduled for Karnataka yet again. Let’s see what’s in store for all of us. Praying we get through this soon!
I’m sure many of you have found different ways to keep your kids indoors as well as content. Do let me know if it is anything other than the ones listed above. Also, let me know how this list has helped you with the kids.