What day is it again? I can’t be entirely sure. The days and nights all seem to roll into one, and it doesn’t seem to really matter anymore if it is a Monday or a Thursday – there’s not much differentiating either day. I can’t tell you the day, the minute, or even the hour right now, but I can tell you for sure that the year is 2020 – the most WTF year most of us have ever experienced.
For those of us with small kids, 2020 has been nothing short of an endurance test. Most parents revel in the opportunity to have extra time to spend with their kids, but depending upon a family’s work schedule, being under the same roof and spending quality time together are not always the same thing. Many working parents have had to wear more hats than ever before: between working from home, conducting Zoom calls, coordinating with customers, making meals and snacks, being the playdates our kids no longer have, and providing more emotional support than ever before….lets just say that “overwhelmed” is an understatement. Oh yeah, and distance learning; many of us discovered this year that distance learning is no small task. Now that school is out for the summer, I am feeling the relief of not having the kids’ schooling in the schedule, yet this presents a whole new conundrum for the kids who now have even less structure in the day: what else is there to do during a lockdown when parents still need to work and things are closed? Welcome to the summer of 1984, kids – it’s time to get bored and go back to basics. Here are a few things that have kept our kids entertained during the pandemic thus far.
At the beginning of lockdown, my husband and I quickly ordered a trampoline on Amazon. With no sporting activities or classes, we figured the kids needed something to burn their beans. (Admittedly, I Googled “human sized hamster wheel,” but a trampoline was the next best match). We were pretty proud of our impulse purchase: the trampoline has kept the kids happy and burning energy for many weeks. And, since the trampoline came with it’s own safety net, it basically doubles as a cage – which is a bonus for keeping the kids in one place! Who knew that repeated jumping up and down could be so much fun? As an added bonus activity, our kids often gather handfuls of stuffed animals and blankets, and camp out with them on the trampoline for hours – it’s like a 2 for 1 special.
Since parks and activities have been closed, and since we quickly exhausted just about every puzzle we were able to find in our house, our family hopped on the surprisingly fulfilling bandwagon of rock painting. Who knew that the most simple artistic action of painting rocks would be one of the defining activities of 2020? While taking our daily ritualistic family walks with our kids, seeing the inspiring messages like “Love,” “Brave,” and “Hugs” motivated us to purchase our own acrylic rock painting kit from Amazon, and it has been one of the biggest hits of the lockdown thus far. Not only do arts and crafts bring me right back to 1984, but we know for sure that when the rock painting kit comes out, our kids are in for at least an hour of fun.
Within the arts and crafts theme, many neighbourhoods saw a huge resurgence in the use of sidewalk chalk as a way to spread inspirational messages to neighbours, healthcare workers, and front line essential workers. Numerous messages of hope, thanks, and beautiful portraits of sunshine and rainbows from kids adorned many sidewalks in our neighbourhood, and our kids were happy to join in the fun. As an added bonus, our kids learned how to draw their own hopscotch game and play it – just like 1984.
Next in line was the introduction of tablets and associated kid-proof protective gear, which we weren’t quite ready for to be honest (and yes, tablets were not available in 1984…but keep reading!). The 2020 pandemic introduced online learning to our kids, and we quickly realized that we were in for a challenge having only one touchscreen computer in our house. The only computer that was intuitive enough for the kids to use for their homework was my husband’s work computer – and with his work schedule, there simply were not enough hours in the day to share one computer. It was, for better or for worse, time to let our kids have access to their own learning tool. The kids quickly discovered that said tablets had the capacity for playing games, and let’s just say that my husband and I have enjoyed adding nostalgic games such as Pac-Man, Battleship, and Mega Man for them to play. 1984 is a great place, isn’t it kids?
Our next family trip to 1984 introduced a couple of pretty awesome kites into our family, and to be honest, prior to last month, I don’t know that I’ve flown a kite myself since 1984. The beauty of kites, is that all you need is some sunshine and some wind, and voila – you can be easily entertained for hours. Before this year, my kids only knew of kites from cartoons or books – but having a couple of real-life kites to fly on their own was a huge source of pride (along with learning to climb trees)!
Our kids have learned through this pandemic that that there is a fine art to getting bored and using their imaginations. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and our kids have come up with more than their fair share of superhero games with their superhero cape set. Back in the real 1984, I think I used a towel and a pair of goggles to pretend that I was Wonder Woman, but kids these days are definitely living the dream with their own superhero capes.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of activities, but these are some of the ways that our kids have passed the time during the 2020 pandemic. There are a few more things they love on my Amazon Shop, as well as some fun things for moms and dads. This time has been a great reminder that sometimes the simplest of activities make the best of memories – we don’t always need sophisticated toys and trinkets to have fun – all we need is our loved ones and some imagination, and perhaps a little bit of 1984.