As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic shut much of our world down for a time. Schools have been closed (hello, virtual learning!), athletic activities were canceled, recreation facilities were shuttered and gatherings were either prohibited or limited to small group size. And breathing the airspace of others was just scary. However, some very creative people came up with fun and inventive ways to keep themselves and their kids moving, while spending more time at home.
First and foremost….Get Everyone Outside!!
Whether it’s the backyard, an open space in the neighborhood or a park, getting outside feels amazing these days! It is still important to stay six feet apart from people (unless they are in your “safe group”) and mask-wearing is advised, but the good news is that you are less likely to catch the virus outdoors. Most parks are open, bike trails and hiking trails are accessible, or you can just find a sunny area to have a picnic.
Stick To a Routine
Studies have shown that family routines contribute positively to social and emotional well-being in children. Stick to a routine, with regular wake-ups and regular meal times…also keep to scheduled activity every day so the kids know to look forward to that time. If possible, try to get at least an hour of good, fun physical activity every day, as this will have excellent health and mental health benefits for everyone. As with anything, stay flexible, as weather and different needs can throw a curve ball into the best-laid plans.
Get Kids Involved with Sports
As things start opening back up, getting your youngsters involved in a sport may be a great option. The risk of COVID-19 is slightly increased if they participate in a team sport, so it’s important to find organizations and coaches who believe in following CDC guidelines. Outdoor activities are a better choice than indoor, and to really be on the safe side, you might consider sports like tennis or golf. If your child is going to participate in team sports, find a team that follows the same philosophy you do to keep your kids safe.
Go for a Walk or Bike Ride in Your Neighborhood
Round everyone up and explore your neighborhood! Maybe even meet some socially distanced neighbors while you’re at it. As long as you stick to the “six-feet-apart” rule, this can be an easy, fun way to get some exercise without getting in the car. You will probably want to consider a good time of day for these activities. A time when a minimal amount of people will be out doing the same thing. Maybe around dinner time when others in the neighborhood are inside eating dinner would be a good time for you to get active? Think about what would work well for you and also keep crowds to a minimum.
Create a playground in the Backyard
Say the words “Backyard playground” and the kid’s wheels will probably start turning. This can be a fun activity for your family to design, set up and play with. Check out You Tube and Pinterest for ideas and find something that meets your budget and level of commitment (how much work you are willing to put into this thing). You may already have items at home that you could use. Things like pool toys, hula hoops, folding chairs and step ladders for an obstacle course. Rope and a spare tire for a tire swing. Tarps, dish soap and a garden hose for the best slip n’ slide ever! Proceed with caution, but you may have never imagined the backyard could be so much fun!
Even though things are opening back up and you may feel safer participating in activities outside, don’t let your guard down completely. Choose locations that will be less crowded, continue to practice social distancing and make sure your kids know to do the same. Always wear your mask if the environment gets crowded.
Finally, remind your family to wash their hands often, either at the sink with warm, soapy water, or with hand sanitizer for at least 30 seconds….and not to touch their faces!