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How to entertain your children during Lockdown Level 3

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 4, 2021

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By Fadia Arnold

January 2021 has arrived, and along with it, a regrettable second wave of Covid-19 in South Africa. As we all have been advised by our Honourable President, all South Africans, aside for essential services, need to abide by regulations in accordance with reverting to level 3 of the Lockdown stages until 15th January 2021, at the very least.

The extreme hardship our countrymen, women and children are going through at this stage is gargantuan and to add to the hardships in terms of finances and healthcare, are also some, what may seem trivial to discuss and rightfully so, realistic issues we have never experienced before as parents – how to entertain our young children during a pandemic and during a month where most households are not able to purchase fancy backyard trampolines or blow-up pools.

So, what do we do to entertain our young during this unprecedented not so festive season? I turned to my long-time friend Waseema Jaffer, a chosen stay at home mother and recent owner of her own start up business, Shimmer Artistry, for some tips as she has four young children under the age of 11. Yes, four! Waseema provided me with exceptional tips that I had never even thought about, and she is therefore in my ‘new mother’ opinion, clearly a professional at this stage in entertaining multiple children at home. She does admit what we all know, which is that it is quite a task to try and find a way to entertain children of different ages in a one income household during a pandemic and national lockdown.

To survive the rest of the school holidays in January 2021, while keeping it fun and clean, here are some indoor activity suggestions if you are choosing to practice complete social distancing during this second wave, that are safe and affordable in terms of entertaining your little ones:

Movie nights:

This seems fairly normal to do as a family and you might be doing it already.

You can however make these normal activities exciting by adding ‘pretend play’. Pretend you are at a real movie theatre. Do so by making movie tickets, seating and snacks. You can use monopoly money as cash to purchase your tickets and snacks.

Cooking challenges:

Challenge your children to a bit of pretend Junior Master Chef for rewards of your choice and turn everything into a learning opportunity. Instead of just baking for your children, let them make the treat themselves. For children between 2 and 5, you could allow them to ‘control’ the whole mixing of the baking process. They tend to be much happier to eat flapjacks and waffles if they have contributed to making it themselves. A sense of achievement one might say. With older children, some more challenging cooking should fulfil this exercise. Buy a cake premix and provide them simply with the box, instructions and ingredients and let them figure out how to bake themselves. Doing this helps to teach them to follow instructions, teaches them how to bake and gives them some practical kitchen skills. It also helps that everyone gets to eat some home-made treats during the festive season without attending expensive restaurants and risking exposure to Covid-19. Adult supervision is crucial in this activity of course.

Star Gazing:

Just because we have to be at our residences by curfew, does not mean your children cannot have a different night-time experience at home. Download the Google Sky App and point your phone into the sky at night. We aren’t able to see all the stars all the time, but the App shows us exactly where each star is, including mapping out each constellation. It’s a fun way for children to learn about the planets and constellations.

Gardening:

Get out your green thumbs and do some gardening. Get seedlings, trays and soil and grow some herbs as a family. If you have more space, you can plant some fruit trees or vegetables. YouTube has many videos on how to make your own mini garden. With a little help from Google, you can easily teach your kids how to grow their own food, and possibly win Survivor South Africa in 2040.

Smaller kids are easier to entertain, even though they require the most attention. There are fun things you can do in your own space, which allows them some outside play at home at minimal cost. Sand art, making play dough from scratch, finger painting, sand and water play. Kids need sensory play and simulation. Try to keep them busy with small activities like these to keep them from getting bored as well as mentally stimulating them at the same time. For older kids, learning a new hobby would be fruitful. They could learn an instrument or take a free online course. Build puzzles, paint, sketch, start a journal. The fun activity list whilst learning life skills simultaneously is endless. Keeping your young little minds stimulated with these creative activities has always shown to have a large positive impact on their overall enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge.

Fadia Arnold is an Attorney at Arnold Law Legal Consultancy

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