This last week I have found myself in one of my most disliked scenario. Picture this: five kids, a mega cold, countless symptoms ranging from fever to vomiting, stopping by cough land and conjunctivitis stadium. It has been hard, we of course rounded all our poor little people to get PCR tested to know if after two years of evading the plague it had finally caught up with us. Luckily we live to see another day COVID free for now but it only took a few days for me to find myself under the weather and as we all know, moms usually are the last ones to get unwell and by then the kids have usually won back their will to live and are not interested in snuggles and hot drinks under a blanket anymore. My husband is mildly unwell but nothing to bad and he usually kicks these things to the curb in a few hours. So I am on my own with five children. They still are not back to their full strength for the most part but they need entertained and after cooking, cleaning and doing more laundry than a prisoner on laundry duty ( I assume) I struggle with finding fun things for them to do that require minimal tidying on my part.
An oldie but a goodie involves colouring. You should never underestimate how much kids love this simple activity. I try to keep colouring pages handy for them, they find it a treat. I love using washable markers (warm water wash) because my children are of many different ages and there will be clothes or skin stains and there is one less worry knowing it will come off easily in the wash and the bath. They are a little bit more expensive but it is definitely worth saving the clothes in the long run. Don’t give all the colouring pages out at once, one per child and ask for the picture to be fully coloured before handing the next, accomplishing this simple task plus the reward of a new picture boosts their dopamine and will make the activity last longer and feel more entertaining for them. If your kids love YouTube like mine do they might even want to try their hand at turning colouring into a challenge with limiting how many colours they use for instance.
Treasure Hunting. This one might feel like it takes a bit more effort on your part but it can be so worth it. Make an easy to follow few copies of your home as a map and leave clues leading to each other for the kids to find and follow. At the end they can get a hot chocolate or get whatever you feel is appropriate for them to receive as a fun reward. It helps them be imaginative and it will buy you at least enough time for a hot cup of tea or coffee. A bonus if you create some back story they might run off and role play and create more stories of their own which will keep them happily entertained for a few more hours.
Role Playing. If you have an older child who likes creating intricate stories this can be very easy, otherwise you might have to feed the story yourself to get the game started. Remember children have a very vivid imagination so while you can crack open the dress up drawer if you have one, makeshift magic wands out of paint brushes, magic gloves or socks etc. will work just as well. Get your kids to start role playing and inventing a story and before you know it they will have disappeared for two hours in their room creating an entire world beyond your wildest imagination.
Bedtime Bath. Now I hear you, bath time when you are yourself full of the cold is not fun to run BUT it does usually come with rewards. Sure you need to be attentive during its entire duration but well organised it can make bedtime much smoother for you and this means you will get to put your feet up much faster. As I am typing this I am home alone as my husband works tonight and despite feeling rubbish and having had very little sleep the last three nights I have managed to bathe and put to bed all five of my kids half an hour earlier than they usually go for. My secret is organisation and fun bath bombs or products. I love the bath bombs and pixie dust from a company called Tales of Toria, they smell divine and have lots of interactive fun shapes, colours and scents and they fizz and foam so much they are an absolute delight for kids (and adults too). I will let my kids pick a bath bomb or choose what bubbles will work, I run a nice warm bath and give them a fifteen minutes timer. While the bath runs I prepare all the pyjamas, diaper for the baby, ready for coming out and getting to bed immediately. The warm bath will make them tired. I always get baby out of the bath first which she hates as she is a water baby and loves her bath, she says the word bath more than she says Mommy these days. I then propose the other kids the following, they can add a minute (or two) each to the timer if they let me brush their teeth or brush their teeth themselves for the older ones while in the bath (the sink in our bathroom is beside the bath so it works but you can do that before they get in the bath otherwise). They love the bath so much they will usually agree to get the extra time and I magically will not have to argue with them to get their teeth brushed. Once they all are done with the bath it is straight to bed and they usually drop asleep pretty quickly from the temperature difference of getting out of the water. They sleep better as well and I can rest a little bit… and put an extra cheeky batch of laundry on!
Bonus activity: Make a vlog. You don’t have to publish it but vlogging is all the rage these days for kids. They love watching videos of themselves maybe even more than watching YouTube so instead of letting them watch TV or a movie why not ask them to make a vlog or a little movie? They will love it, it is more creative and they still feel like they have had time with the tablet or phone! The nicest part is that it will give you something precious to share with them in the coming years and you might get to discover some fun thoughts of ideas your kids never shared with you since you are not always as an adult part of their kiddy games.
I know these might be very simplistic but they are cheap and fun ideas we use on a weekly and daily basis. One thing I have learnt after nearly ten years as a parent is that tapping into your kids imagination is key to them having unlimited fun and building their sense of self and creativity. You do not have to buy a new toy to get a little quiet, you just need to get the imaginative engine running by matching it, starting a storyline for them they can fill in and they will run with it. The best moments of my childhood were filled with these creative stories and games. Giving your children a chance to exercise their imagination is fantastic for their skillset as well, it encourages storytelling, problem solving, the ability to think outside the box or from another perspective. Role playing safely at home helps them boost their confidence, one of my boys loves playing evil villains, he is the sweetest kid but he can step into character and it suddenly gives him confidence to be more assertive with his siblings and push boundaries a little.
I hope you are all doing well reading this post and that maybe one of these ideas gives you the chance to accomplish something for yourself.
Have magical day, thank you for reading,