If you're like me, you're noticing school closures across the country – and waiting for Hawaii public schools spring break to be turned into an indefinite school closure, too. So, while we live this unprecedented moment and watch these unprecedented responses to COVID-19, I've been mentally creating lists of things to do to keep my kids active, engaged, and above all, healthy.
We try to limit screen time in our house, and I'm not going to lie, during a pandemic, we will probably indulge in a lot more screen time than normal. But in an attempt to keep my kids moving, happy, stimulated, and not feeling like prisoners, I've come up with a list of options to keep COVID-19 blues at bay.
This is easy for us to do in the land of a thousand hikes here in Hawaii – but, mainlanders, stay with me. In Germany, it's typical for people to go out and walk in all kinds of conditions and weather. Take the same approach and attitude – yes, it's that weird time of year where it's sunny and 75 degrees one day, then sleeting the next, but with the right attitude – and the right gear – any day is a good day for a hike. And who says hikes have to be far away? Check out hikingproject.com for the closest hikes near you, ranked for difficulty. Make it more sustainable by walking or biking there if you can!
Write Letters to Congress
Is there anything more powerful than the perspective of a child? Take a few minutes of your time at home (we will have plenty to spare!) and teach your kids how our government works – and that constituents matter! Learn who your representative is by entering your zip code here, and help your kids write a letter about an issue that matters to them. This is a great time to learn what's important to your kids if you don't already know, and share with them what's important to you. What's more powerful than the words of our kids to the ears of our legislators?
Native Plant Neighborhood BINGO
Native plants rule! And we should know more about them. What, sound boring? Did you know that native plants can help create sustainable environments, promote pollination, and improve our soils? All of which is highly beneficial to our surrounding environments and atmosphere. Search for your local flora here, and have your kids make a quick bingo sheet with either the pictures or names (or both!) of the plants you want to search for (make it more interesting/tougher for older kids by adding in native birds). Cruise the neighborhood on foot to make this a completely sustainable outing, and slow enough to savor the fresh air.
Studies show that large bodies of water are calming to the mind and soothing to the body. If you're lucky enough to live near the ocean, get there! Surf, swim, walk the shore, get the kids to dig, hunt crabs, count seashells, pick up micro-plastics (we hope that someday that won't be an option but we’re still working on it!).
If you're not near the ocean, find a lake, stream, pond – anything will do! Bring magnifying glasses, binoculars, nets, a sketch pad (and snacks – always snacks!). My kids love to “discover” the creepy crawlies near ponds, streams, and even at the tidepools. What can they discover when they’re ready for anything?
Social Networking Scavenger Hunt
Our kids are going to be super bummed if/when school closures keep them from their friends (full disclosure, we are already practicing social distancing but they haven’t noticed yet). But they can still play – virtually – with their friends as long as we’re creative...
Create a scavenger hunt for your kids and their friends that they can complete without each other. Keep track of the points and do daily (or hourly) check ins, depending on how long you want it to last. Make the objects as random as possible to extend the life of this game.
How? Create a list of totally random items you might find (or might never find!) in your neighborhood and assign points, then send to other families to participate. Get your kids in on creating these wacky scavenger hunt items, too. Define a start and end for the scavenger hunt – one day, 3 days, a week, etc. Establish when everyone will send in their updates and see who can get to 50 points (or 100 points, or 300 points – how many weeks are they off school, again?!) first! Keep track however it works best for your group – google docs, group texts, emails, whatever! Then, go search your neighborhood to see what you can find. Participating families will do the same – together, without being together.
White dog on a pink leash – 50 points
Skateboarder with helmet and wrist guards – 20 points
Pizza delivery car – 10 points
Bird with a worm in its mouth – 40 points
A gecko – 10 points (in Hawaii), 100 points (on the mainland)
Moving Van – 75 points
Person walking a cat – 100 points
The more random the item, the better!
Living through this COVID-19 pandemic is certainly keeping things interesting at our house – and I don't know about you, but we are second-guessing ourselves and our decisions constantly! It feels scary and stressful but also feels a little bit like a gift. Time together, time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, time for reflection. We don't know what the next few weeks will bring, but hopefully these five small, somewhat silly distractions will bring us all a brief respite during this time of social distancing, school closures, and this general feeling of instability. We will get through this together (apart, but together--you know what I mean!)
Are your kids' schools closed? How will you be reworking your daily routines? Share your ideas with us!
Thanks for going Rogue with us, stay healthy, and shakas!
Rogue Wave founder