Cabin Fever (noun): extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time
It’s hard enough for adults to find new and interesting ways to entertain themselves during our self-imposed quarantine, but imagine how difficult it is for children with short attention spans and plenty of energy to burn. Here are 10 ideas of ways to keep your children engaged and active indoors. Some ideas will be more feasible than others depending on the age of your child(ren) and the size of your home.
1. Hide and Seek
The best thing about old games is that they never truly lose their appeal. If you’ve got the space, hide and seek can be just as fun indoors as it is outside. Same rules apply.
2. Card Games
Uno anyone? Next to “Go Fish” Uno may be the easiest card game to date and the rules are so easy to understand that children and adults can play together. My college friends and I used to play all the time and there was plenty of excitement in the room when someone drew the infamous “Draw Four” card. If you don’t have any Uno cards, then make up your own card game using a standard deck of playing cards. Get creative and let your kids help make the rules.
Don’t have a karaoke machine? Neither do I, but I do have access to YouTube and there are countless sing-along videos you can use to substitute for the real thing. And don’t be afraid to “ham it up” for your kids. The more energy you put into something, the more energy they will give back.
4. Board Games (no pun intended)
Competition is hard for many of us to resist and that’s why board games can be so engaging. There are ups and downs and everyone has an equal chance of winning. To this day my favorite board game remains Chutes and Ladders.
5. Dress-Up and Photo Shoot
What kid didn’t prance around in their parents’ shoes or play in their mother’s makeup? Make an event out of it! Allow your kids to play dress up along with a photo shoot of their completed looks. Obviously, you’ll need to keep them away from the expensive stuff, but everything else is up for grabs. They can get creative mixing their own clothes with their parents’ grown-up clothes. It can be a lot of fun and a great thing to share with friends and family. Whether you do a live video or simply snap pictures of the final result, you'll create a fun memory.
6. Exercise Video
Remember those 30-minute exercise videos that used to air weekday mornings back in the 1980s (or am I showing my age again)? If not, YouTube will be happy to refresh your memory. Invite (insist) your kids to do those videos with you. It will help your kids burn some energy and help keep you in shape. The advantage of the videos from the 1980s is that the routines weren't too complicated. I used to do them by myself while my mother watched soap operas in another room. You could swap out workout videos for yoga videos if that’s more your speed. It’s still good physical exercise and helps calm everyone down.
7. Crash Pile
Do this one only if you dare. It reminds me of one of the exercises we used to do in gymnastics, but on a much smaller scale. Gather every seat cushion, throw pillow, thick blankets, and sleeping pillows you can find into a big, contained pile on the floor and let the kids jump off the couch and land in it. Again, this is one that you should attempt only if 1) your kids are old enough and 2) you feel confident no injury will occur.
8. "Bear" Hunt
Select one of the kids’ stuffed animals (the smaller the better) and hide it somewhere really well. Whoever finds it gets some kind of little reward like choosing what’s for dinner or staying up an hour later than usual. Want to ratchet up the competition? Set a time limit and watch them scamper.
9. Pictionary / Charades
Pictionary works best for older children and adults whose drawing skills are presumably better than that of a 4-year old. If you have younger children, switch to charades which is essentially just role play. Kids are remarkably good at imitating what they see (just don’t make the answers too advanced). You could also allow younger children to use props to make the role play easier for them.
10. Scavenger Hunt
Admittedly, the scavenger hunt is similar to the "bear" hunt, but the scavenger hunt has clues to help you get to the end. Each clue leads you to the next until you find the ultimate “prize.” This “prize” could be someone’s cell phone (increases incentive to participate) or the remote control to the TV. If you want to create a scavenger hunt for young children make the clues very simple like colors i.e. the first clue is to find the color red; then the next clue is to find something green.