Feeling A Little Stir Crazy At Home? These Family Activities Will Help!
Article updated April 10, 2021
Not everyone enjoys staying home for long periods, but during a pandemic we don’t have much choice. However, there are many fun family activities you can do with your kids to help pass the time. Here are 40 fun family activities to prevent cabin fever, plus 10 bonus ideas that are exclusively screen-free!
So, we’ve been told (again) to stay at home except for essentials trips out of the house for groceries and medical appointments. What to do, what to do? It’s easy to throw up our hands in defeat, thinking we’ve exhausted all our ideas for fun family activities to keep the kids entertained. Before giving up, check out our list below.
First, it helps tremendously when kids have a say in what you do as a family. Hold a family meeting and decide on a daily schedule together, so that everyone is aware of the plan and willing to follow it. You can set times for structured learning (if your kids’ school is closed due to COVID), play and fitness, as well as reading and screen time. Kids function better when they know what to expect, so create some kind of consistent routine where your days become predictable.
In this article, we’ve gathered some great ways for you to have fun, both with your kids and on your own (because we all know parents need some me-time to recharge our batteries), so everyone can keep busy and make the most of your stay-at-home time.
Outdoor Fun & Fitness
- Get fresh air: ‘Stay home’ doesn’t mean you can’t go outside for fresh air and exercise. You can go for a bike ride or take a walk in the park. Of course, you must keep a distance of at least 6-8 feet or more from other people. Some fresh air can help you feel better after spending a lot of time indoors.
- Get fit: While it may be tempting to laze around, you could use this time to improve your fitness. Down Dog is making its ‘Yoga for Beginners’, ‘7-Min Workout’, ‘HIIT’, and ‘Barre’ apps available at a discount.
- Garden: Prune and prepare your garden beds for the upcoming spring, and get the kids involved. You can even start a container garden on your balcony! Order a variety of seeds and starters online and get to it!
- Sports: Play some tennis against the wall or kick a soccer ball around with your kids. You could even practice batting or shoot some hoops with your family in the driveway.
- Camp: Set up a tent and sleeping bags in your backyard to have a bit of camping fun! If it’s too cold, camp in your living room!
- Board games: It’s time to bring out all the board games collecting dust in the cupboards! Whether it’s a group game or a one-on-one competition, they’re sure to help pass the time. You can even find a lot of them online.
- Books: Pick a book off your shelf (or download one) and get lost in another world. Brightly has a number of recommendations for readers of all ages.
- Build a fort: Grab some blankets and empty boxes and build a fort in the living room. Not only is it fun, but you also get to create some personal space.
- Make a movie: Write a script, prepare some costumes, and involve your whole family in your magnificent smartphone movie.
- Experiment & explore: KiwiCo, among other sites, have a large collection of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities that can be done using simple household items.
- Card games: War, Uno, Go Fish, or even Poker and Cards Against Humanity – there are many age-appropriate card games that you can play with your family to pass the time.
- Puzzles: Whether you’re working alone or with someone else, puzzles can keep you busy and stimulate your brain at the same time.
- Make music: Explore different music-making apps, like Music Maker Jam and Soundtrap, to experiment with fun new sounds.
- Dance: Staying at home means a lot of bottled-up energy, and dancing can be really fun. Like the old saying goes: ‘Dance like nobody’s watching’!
- Learn an instrument: With more time on your hands, you can finally learn how to play an instrument. There are many beginners’ resources on the internet, and if you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, you can even attend video conferences.
Self-Care and Self-Improvement
- Journal: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to manage any anxiety you may be experiencing, as well as reduce stress by creating goals and tracking your daily activity.
- Gather virtually: Maybe you can’t go out for a cup of coffee together, but you can each grab your own cups from the kitchen and FaceTime with your friends to stay connected!
- Pray: Although you can’t congregate in gatherings, many faith groups have organized streaming services to pray and worship collectively.
- Meditate: Take a few minutes every day to clear your head and find your Zen. There are several apps like Calm, Headspace, and Aura that can help with this, and reducing stress in tough times can help increase your positivity. This is an activity to do for yourself, and it’s an important coping technique to teach your kids as well!
- Spread cheer: When you cheer someone else up, you also cheer up yourself. Leave your family encouraging notes, or have flowers delivered to your neighbour to brighten up their day! (You’ll also be supporting your local florist during the pandemic, which is crucial for the survival of small businesses.)
- Spa day: While you can’t physically go to the spa yourself, you can take a bubble bath and use DIY spa day suggestions to pamper yourself at home.
- Adulting lessons: Adulting is hard, but everyone has to do it! Use this time to teach your kids the basics – doing the laundry, cooking, and creating a budget are important life skills everyone should learn!
- Colour: Though kids’ colouring books can be fun too, there are many adult colouring books that can provide a creative way to practice mindfulness and reduce stress levels. There are many free colouring pages on the internet that you can print!
- Social games and apps: There are plenty of online games like Minecraft and Fortnite that people can play together to stay connected.
- Binge classics: What better way to cope with a pandemic than by watching some classic movies and TV shows? Log on to your streaming service of choice and revisit some classics you love or catch up on ones you missed.
- Keep learning: Some schools may be closed, but your kids don’t have to stop learning! There are lots of PreK-12 resources available online for parents to use to keep their kids on track.
- Streaming fun: Leaving your house may be prohibited in a lockdown, but luckily, many museums and operas are streaming virtual tours that you can take online!
- Couch drive-in: Let your family take turns picking the theme of the week and sit together to watch movies and TV shows with that theme!
- Reruns: If you’ve been wanting to rewatch your favourite show but haven’t had time — now’s your chance!
Arts & Crafts
- Paint, draw, collage: Bring out all those paints and crayons, and see where it takes you! Or take the digital route and draw something on your tablet, using free drawing software like Krita!
- Build something: Take out all your Lego, toothpicks, and popsicle sticks to start building something! Even old-school card houses can keep you busy for hours!
- Scrapbooking: Grab those old family photos stored away in boxes and start putting them together in scrapbooks to preserve all those memories!
- Make friendship bracelets: Handmade bracelets have been ”in” for decades, and times haven’t changed all that much! Give your friends a present the next time you see them!
- Needlework: Knitting and sewing projects can keep you busy! There are many YouTube videos out there for inspiration and guidance!
In the Kitchen
- Dress-up dinner: You may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. Put on some nice clothes, do your hair, and have a fancy dinner in your kitchen.
- Learn something new: Look for a fun new recipe on the internet and try it out! Pick something based on region, or on what’s in your pantry. Or, brush up on your nutrition smarts – including what foods and drinks are good for your teeth!
- Bake-off: Who doesn’t like sweets? Now’s the best time to experiment with those cookie and cake recipes!
- Organize: Choose a target and start redoing it! Your drawers, the toy box, the front hall closet – it’s time to rearrange and clean up!
- Declutter: Spark joy in tough times by Marie Kondo-ing your house! Get rid of all that clutter and make your space feel much cleaner.
- Decorate: Seeing your house arranged the same way every day can get boring – change it up a bit by moving your furniture or decorating your walls!
BONUS: 10 Screen-Free Fun Family Activities
- Call a friend: Not over FaceTime, or Skype, or Zoom, or text, but with a good old-fashioned telephone (use your mobile phone if that’s all you have, but even better if you still use a landline with an actual phone handset). Teach your kids the art of having a conversation on the telephone!
- Get creative with a giant roll of paper: So often when we sit down to draw, colour or paint, we pull out basic, 8×11 pieces of paper. Why not go bigger with your imagination and lay out a giant roll of banner paper? You can trace each other’s full-body outlines and colour them in with crazy outfits; you can draw an endless twisty, turny roadway and have races with miniature cars; you can paint a panoramic landscape of a sunset on the horizon… the possibilities are endless!
- Go on a scavenger hunt: Who doesn’t love scavenger hunts? Make up your own list of items to find, or search for ideas online (before your screen-free time begins, obviously 🙂 ) Indoors, outdoors, around the neighbourhood… if you have a big family split off into teams and race to see which team finishes their list first!
- Write a letter to a loved one: Can’t visit Grandma & Grandpa right now? Write them a letter! Even if you live in the same town, they’ll be thrilled to get a letter or card in the mail from the grandkids. Just like talking on a telephone, writing letters is a lost art — teach your kids what an important life skill this is!
- Home improvement, kid-style: If money were no object, what improvements would each of you make to your home? Start by drawing your house on a big piece of paper, as it is now. Then take turns around the family and each of you (adults included) add whatever feature you would most love to have. Swimming pool? No problem, draw it in. Giant curly slide from upstairs to down? No problem, draw it in. Rooftop patio with basketball court? No problem, draw it in. You get the idea!
- Put together a family dance routine for TikTok: Yes, we know, TikTok involves screens to record your video… but before you get to the recording part, you have to practice — so, use your screen-free time to practice your family dance routine so that when you turn on your screens again to push ‘record’, you’ve got it nailed!
- Have a reading picnic: Indoors on the living room floor with cushions if it’s raining, outdoors in the backyard on a blanket if it’s nice… everyone grab your favourite snack and your favourite book, and spend a couple of hours reading — together out loud from one book, or each lost in your own stories!
- Sidewalk chalk bonanza: Grab a big bucket of sidewalk chalk and go crazy! Use your driveway as a canvas, or the sidewalk in front of your house. Why not write friendly, upbeat notes and pictures for passersby? Take photos of your creations for a ‘COVID family art gallery’ keepsake of sorts. Then when it rains your canvas is wiped clean, ready for the next family masterpiece!
- Go for a walk in your pajamas: Those of us now working from home go to work every morning in our PJs (at least the bottom half of us)… why not get outside as a family in your pajamas? Go for a walk, jog, bike ride, hike… you’ll be comfortable and you’ll fit right in with the PJ pandemic fashion trend!
- And if your kids are really missing their screens…: Try swapping chores for screen time! There’s nothing wrong with asking your kids to help with chores around the house in exchange for something they find valuable (in this case, screen time). Make it fun by using colourful cards like these — your kids will be eager to earn their reward by helping out!