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Practical Tips for Surviving Your Sudden Staycation

Mom and Dad coloring with son on a bed.

In these uncertain times during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s one thing we can be sure of: you’re going to be spending some extra quality time at home with your family! Entertaining your kids at home without playdates, outings, and other happy distractions can be challenging for even the savviest of parents. While many people have only been practicing social distancing for a little while, the longer we quarantine ourselves the more likely cabin fever is to set in for both you and your children. Here are a few practical tips for surviving your sudden staycation and still managing to get something done for yourself. 

Put away half the toys

If your child’s play space looks like FAO Schwarz, go through their toys and put away the ones they don’t play with very often. Simply set them in a box and hide them in a closet. Out of sight, out of mind, good as new! Chances are they won’t miss them, and when things get a little boring, you can break them out and your kids will feel like they have brand new toys. Research supports giving children less toys because it increases their focus and stimulates their creativity. As an added bonus, rotating toys out means less clean up, because kids have a tendency to get out every single toy they own when they’re cooped up. If toys get boring even after they’re brought back into rotation, get all Montessori-esque and give them real materials that they don’t normally see in their play space. Kids get a kick out of random household items, such as:

  • Tape measures
  • Flashlights
  • Measuring cups
  • Tupperware
  • Digital cameras
  • Painters tape
  • Old calculators
  • Water bottles
  • Makeup sponges
  • Cotton balls
  • Old wallets filled with old business cards

Mix up engaged activities with self-directed play

You know your kids better than anyone, so you know there are times of day when they play well on their own and times when they typically require more (or all) of your attention. For our Director of Operations Suzie Zeldin, mornings are filled with matchbox car races and imaginary conversations between stuffed animals. In the afternoons, the most popular word is “MAMA!” Be reasonable with your expectations for personal productivity and take advantage of those self play moments where only minimal supervision or gentle reassurance is required. Get the most important things on your list taken care of during that time and expect a few interruptions. Check out Busy Toddler’s mega list of 40+ Indoor Activities to encourage self-directed play through items that can typically be found at home. 

Once you’ve hit the time of day when your kids are no longer satisfied without a playmate, give yourself a moment to get in the mindset just playing and not doing anything else. Kids love to bask in the glory of their parent’s undivided attention because how often does that really happen? There’s always so much to plan, and with our devices constantly going off, we can’t help but get distracted. Your kids know when you’re phoning it in (pun intended!) and their often undesirable behavior will reflect it. Tell yourself that your entire job for the next 20-30 minutes is just playing. After some focused time of engaged play, you can set your child’s expectations by letting them know in a few minutes, you’ll need to take care of something and it will be time to play on their own again. Need some ideas for playtime together? We love The Neon Tea Party’s DIY kits where you and your child can make friendship bracelets or pom poms together (Because of social distancing, The Neon Tea Party is currently offering 10% off their products with code CABINFEVER10).

Change the scene

Shake things up however you can, even if you’re stuck in the same place. If you’ve got an accessible outdoor space, whether that’s a backyard or a balcony, use it! If you’re truly stuck inside, taking a morning bath that’s all about playing in the water rather getting ready for bed. Rearrange the furniture or build a blanket fort with couch cushions. Camp out in a different bedroom with sleeping bags and flashlights (just your throw pillows and blankets will work too). Be as creative as you can muster! 

You can also change the scene (without actually changing the scene) by role playing familiar figures and environments in your child’s life. Pretend to be your child’s school teacher or classmate or go on an imaginary playdate and play the role of one of your child’s friends. Acting out the things you’ll need to skip right now will help your kids pass the time and delay that stir crazy feeling of being hunkered down at home. If you absolutely need to, lean on an educational and fun kids show. Introduce TV later in the day and set an age appropriate limit before you turn it on so you don’t end up using it as a crutch. Once the TV has been turned on, it tends to be hard to come back from since it’s so stimulating.

How are you making the most of your staycation? Tag SmartSitting in your Facebook and Instagram posts so we can see and share your posts on our channels. Looking for more information on keeping your child’s mind engaged? Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for all the latest info coming from our team!

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