Colder weather and shorter days have always meant more indoor play, but world events have made it likely that you and your family are going to be spending even more time than usual inside your house. That means you are going to have to try new ways to keep everyone from going crazy, and that includes yourself.
Make sure you set some time every day for a bit of ‘me’ time, because that can definitely go a long way (no one will even judge if you consider looking over spending time in London with a personal escort taking you to the shops which have gotten top reviews during one of your daydreams).
And you will definitely be able to have these moments if you read on and check out some of the ways the kids can enjoy themselves without you having to hover over them like a hawk.
It’s the greatest temptation. Parking your kids in front of the TV or handing them a tablet and letting them experience the rest of the world. With parental controls being easy to set up on streaming sites like Netflix, and video sites like YouTube, you can rest easy knowing that the chances of your kids seeing something they shouldn’t is relatively low.
But the bigger concern is when you’ve given them too much screen time. Is one ninety minute movie – or four Paw Patrol episodes – just the right amount? It can depend on your kids you have and their attention span. Even the best Pixar movies might have them fidgeting after half an hour.
There is also the issue of entertainment versus education, and while there is always older fare like Sesame Street and newer shows like Storybots that try to bridge the gap, the older your kids get, the sooner they are going to realize that this program is trying to teach them something. So within the hour or two you might allow for streaming, maybe break up the learning and the adventuring in half.
As far as what streaming service is best, it should be no surprise that Disney-Plus is an easy frontrunner. While YouTube selection goes on forever, it is hard to compete with Disney when it comes to quality. Not only does it mean plenty of traditionally animated classics, but the entire Pixar library.
And when your little ones get a bit older, the Marvel and Star Wars franchises will definitely keep their eyeballs glued to the big screen. And it also has its fair share of documentaries as well, thanks to it offering the entire content of the National Geographic channel.
Jigsaw Puzzles Solve Everything
To go in the extreme opposite, non-technical direction, another great way to keep your children occupied and get their brains going is to give them the same thing kids were playing with hundreds of years ago (albeit wealthier ones). There are several types of puzzles, but carefully cut up pictures that need to be rearranged can come in a variety of skill levels that anyone can obsess over solving.
It has been documented repeatedly that these sorts of exercises can be very beneficial in developing learning skills, so you can rest easy knowing that there is a huge educational boost here. And because of just how popular these activities remain, you can be sure that no matter how finicky your little one is, you can definitely find a puzzle with their favourite cartoon character on it, which is going to get them a lot more interested.
And on a side note, jigsaw puzzles for adults can also be quite relaxing and help stave off mental decline as you get older. And you don’t have to settle for a picture of Elsa and Anna of Frozen that’s broken into just fifteen pieces.
A Bit of Reading (other than Harry Potter)
Spreading a whole book over a few weeks or months is a good call if the book in question is a very entertaining one. Obviously the JK Rowling series is going to be close to the top of everyone’s list (with Lord of the Rings coming in a close second, although you might have to do a bit of off-key singing with that one).
The thing to keep in mind is just what the sort of stories your kids are interested in. Now, some of that might be influenced by what they are watching on television, and it should come as no surprise that if they like the movie or series, they’ll enjoy the books as well. Examples could be ‘His Dark Materials’, or even ‘The Hunger Games’ (although this one can be considered more of ‘young adult’).
The Wide Virtual World of Video Games
This section is separate from streaming because video games can ask so much more of a person playing it. Yes, your kids might look kind of the same as they do both activities sitting on the couch with their eyes glued to the screen with their jaw hanging open, but whether they have a controller in their hand or are tapping away on a tablet, this level of interactivity is nothing to scoff at.
Video games have been around long enough that it is something that you most likely have played for at least a bit of your life (or are at least aware of). A great way to bond with your child is to maybe introduce them to some games that you played when you were younger (which might be Mario, Sonic, Zelda, or other popular family-friendly series).
The question really becomes when you should let your kids experience more mature fare like Grand Theft Auto or God of War. And that might be when they hit their teen years, and only then if they are doing decently in school.
Of course, online and mobile games mean that as soon as your children have a phone they can be playing all the time. In fact, it’s not so much worrying who they are texting, but how much of the phone bill is spent on data while playing Fortnite.