As we move into autumn and it looks like Covid-19 is here to stay so opens up the prospect of a long, dark winter of staying home. But staying in needn’t be all doom and gloom, there are numerous ways to inject a bit of fun and imagination into keeping the kids entertained which needn’t break the bank.
I’m Claire and along with my husband Andrew we run Thrifty Parent, a blog devoted to offering tips and advice on parenting, families and saving money. We have three kids so all our parenting advice comes from (sometimes bitter) experience!
Check out the following six tips on imaginative ways to entertain your kids on a budget during lockdown.
We all miss going to the movies and although some cinemas are now open many people are choosing to avoid entertainment venues. Instead why not recreate the cinema in the safety of your own home? Pick a night of the week and call it movie night. Gather all the family together, crack out the popcorn (popping your own from kernels can add to the fun!), huddle under a blanket and enjoy watching a family movie together.
To add an extra element you could find a theme or series of movies to watch. Over lockdown we subscribed to Disney+ which has proved to be well worth the subscription fee (£5.99 a month but we chose the yearly subscription of £59.99 to save 15% which works out at £.4.99 a month).
Every Friday night we all sit down together to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order (which suddenly makes the whole story arc make much more sense!) but you could choose any number of options depending on the age of your kids from the classic Disney cartoons to the whole Star Wars saga.
We have a couple of banned questions in our house including ‘What’s for dinner?’, ‘How long is this walk?’ and ‘I’m bored, what shall I do?’. Right at the start of lockdown we sat down together and created ‘The List’. On it we wrote down as many ideas as possible of simple activities the kids could do by themselves to amuse themselves and so whenever they are bored they know to go look at ‘The List’. More often than not they are inspired and off they trot to get busy on a new activity.
Some of the items on our list include: bake cookies, build a Lego city, play cards, draw a picture, jump on the trampoline, play hide and seek, read a book, finger painting, junk modelling. But your list can be tailored to your own kids’ interests.
You might be spending all day on Zoom meetings and be sick and tired of video conferencing but it can double up as a great way for your kids to still interact and have fun with friends or family. For younger children why not organise for grandparents or aunts and uncles to schedule an evening video call with your kids in which they read them a bedtime story?
For older kids you could organise a group call with their friends, tell them all to get in their pyjamas and have a virtual sleepover!
Get Cosy Outside
It might be getting colder outside but that does not mean you should stop making use of your outside space. Grab some blankets, light up the brazier and spend an evening under the stars (here are some great ideas how to get your outdoor space cosy).
Wrap up the kids in their warmest coats and drape blankets over their legs and then lie back and look up at the stars – see how many constellations you can name and keep your eyes peeled for a shooting star.
Then gather round the fire pit or brazier and toast some marshmallows while sharing your best ghost stories.
Build a Den
In the summer we kept our kids busy with camping in the garden but once the weather turns, camping becomes less attractive. Instead challenge your kids to gather as many pillows, cushions, blankets, sheets and duvets – then arm them with some clothes pegs, string and chairs and get them to create their own inside den.
Once they’ve built it they can spend the night in there, equipped with torches and secret midnight snack!
Playing games together is a really fun way to spend an evening as a family so the kids love it when we organise a games night.
Each week a different member of the family chooses a game from the games cupboard (check out our favourite family board games) then we put out a load of tasty snacks and let the games begin!
For families that enjoy getting competitive you could set up a leaderboard to record the scores each week and every few months you could award a prize to the top game player of the family.
Hopefully those are some great ideas to help make your lockdown a little more bearable!