Lockdown period can be stressful for kids and their parents. Take a look at the tips and tricks by Tanya Vasunia, Psychologist & Lead – Clinical Collaborations, Mpower – The Centre as to how to can keep your children engaged during quarantine.

“Mummy, now what!?” I heard my clients’ children chorus from the background as she adjusted her computer screen in order to maintain privacy. “Go ask Daddy to make that puzzle with you, mommy is on the phone with her friend.” She sighed and refocused on the screen, “Sorry Tanya, I am so exhausted. This whole COVID thing has been emotionally draining. I so tired, you know? The kids are home and so is Sameer…the house is just non-stop.” I nodded and Natasha a 45-year- old, mother of two continued on to share her concerns surrounding the virus and her abilities as a mother.

Natasha is not alone, we are all in lockdown and now more than ever parents are concerned about keeping their children engaged which they equate to keeping them away from the stress of the outside world. As a professional, I would like to make it clear from the get-go that parents you are human and therefore you will not be perfect and with the current global pandemic looming you shouldn’t expect yourself to be. Through this discourse, I hope to provide you with a few ideas to keep your children mindfully engaged during this trying time as well as give you a few bits of information that will be food for thought.

As a parent it is natural to want to give your child the best of what you can offer, unfortunately, many parents equate this feeling with material items or the absence of any distress. While it may seem counter-intuitive to a large number of people reading this but certain amounts of distress, boredom, and desire are healthy. In fact, the development of distress tolerance is associated with emotional regulation which is key in overall social development. In short moms and dads’, it’s okay if during this time your child is bored or a little worried, in fact, it is healthy as the situation warrants these moments. It is important to address COVID-19 with your children in a manner that they can understand. If they express worry acknowledge their feelings and help them think of some of the positives like how nature is getting a chance to rejuvenate.

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However, while hopefully, the paragraph above gave you something to reflect upon, the truth of the matter is during this lockdown you do need to provide your children with some routine unless of course you have taken social distancing literally and are currently hiding from your family. How you plan the day will depend on the age of your child but below are a few guidelines that will be helpful in keeping children engaged during the quarantine.

Here’s how to keep your children engaged during quarantine:

Keep a fixed wake-up time and bedtime. They will be foundations for the day and will assist you in maintaining healthy sleep.

Try your best to plan two solid activities for each day. Quality over quantity is the mantra here when you plan activities ensure they are challenging enough to keep your child engaged but not so complex that they give Puzzles, arts and crafts and creating obstacle courses with furniture, cooking/baking are just some of the activities you can plan. When you plan an activity let it engage either the physical or the mental. Do not be afraid to make chores an activity, take this time clean up wardrobes, reorganize old CDs, put together photo-albums etc. can all be made activities to keep your children busy.

Divide screen time into two halves – the social half and the entertainment half. During the social half organize online play dates with friends where the children can play games like Taboo or codenames. Calling family is also a great way to keep the children feeling connected and engaged socially. During the entertainment half, you can allow them to watch a show if they are watching a movie split the movie across two days this way you will not run out of movies and it limits screen.

Make your own workout studio. Take a room, clear it put on some music and the whole family can exercise together (do not be afraid to use your child as weight as long as you do not injure them it can be a fun game).

Family time, a fun engagement activity, is designated family time in which the entire family (house-help and all) join in and play a game. The games could be antakshari, hangman and catchphrase.

Online book club, this can be done over Zoom or Skype where at the end of the week kids get together and discuss a book they have read. For those with younger children, you can have a parent and child book club where parents can help facilitate.

During this difficult period, it is okay to have your children experience boredom and for you to experience frustration. This is a massive change from routine and it will take some time to adjust. Be sure to share the responsibility for engaging your children with the whole family. During this time we as adults will have to lead by example, we need to own our feelings, balance our own days in order to help our children navigate this difficult time.

Try out these tips to keep your children engaged during the quarantine.