Being confined at home for quite some time will really challenge our creativity when it comes to keeping everyone in our family entertained. When we run out of ideas or when our kids get bored with the usual routine, we would usually just let them grab a gadget and waste their time away immersed in some mobile app - not a great idea if we let this happen for hours at a time, especially if they use apps that do not add any value. Most kids nowadays easily get bored when tasked with non-digital activities. So let’s think about how we can sneak in the fun factor into worthwhile activities that we can do with them to enhance our family bond. Here are some suggestions:
1. Have a getting-to-know-you game
When we were so busy at work and school, did we ever get the chance to get to know our family members well enough to know their likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations, and natural talents? If not, then now we have the time to get to do so! We can look up for questions online or prepare them ourselves, then take turns in asking and letting each member of the family answer.
2. Start a journal (if you haven’t yet)
We can record daily happenings as a family or individually. If you are more traditional, you may write in a notebook, or, if you are a techie, online journals or blogs are also a thing. Writing about how you are coping during this difficult time may be an interesting and even inspiring story for those who will read it in the future, much like how Anne Frank’s diary made and is still making an impression on many.
3. Get our indexing tasks done (finally!)
You can work on Family History tasks and teach the younger ones how to use the Family Search website and Indexing software. Now is also a good time to find familial connections and get to know our ancestors on a more personal level.
4. Bake fresh bread
Not only will bread-making keep you busy, it will also teach children a lot of things including math, following instructions, and patience (as they wait for the bread to bake!). One time I was baking bread with my daughter, she asked, “Why do we need to put in salt when we just put in sugar?” I somehow made a connection between how we need to add salt to bring out the sweetness and how we must feel sorrow in order to feel happiness. That moment became an instant teaching opportunity! We also used the bread we baked for our home Sacrament service, by the way. (You can find the recipe for simple white bread at the end.)
5. Arrange family photos and scrapbooks
Have we ever told ourselves, “I’m gonna get to arranging our photos… someday”? Well, that someday is now! When you do this, it is going to be a whole day of walking down memory lane and storytelling for sure. We can also organize and declutter our digital photos. We can also create video montages by event, which are better because they have digital advantages and they are more fun to view. Have the younger ones decide which pictures to include in a montage. Put them all together, then sit back, relax, and enjoy your show!
6. Level up on a skill
Whether it is in music, arts or crafts, cooking, or any field, if it is developed and honed, a hobby can become a skill. That skill can be profitable if you become really good at it. Support family members in what they are good at.
7. Do household chores together
Chores. Ugh, I know. But we have got to do them. To make chores seem like they are more fun than not, turn them into games! Use a point system and give rewards. You can even plan it out to be like a triathlon where members have three types of chores to finish! (Of course, still give last placers some prizes.) This is going to be a hit especially amongst competitive family members, and when it becomes a routine, we will never have to do chores on our own again! So everybody’s a winner!
8. Wardrobe declutter
There are many ways to do this, but some kids might not be interested and maybe even find it boring. Doing it together and having a purpose for doing it (eg., gathering clothes we no longer use to pass on to younger cousins and friends or donate to charity) should take away the boring part. Doing this would teach them to look around and help people in need.
In this day and age of online everything, we become so connected with other people and virtual spaces and, unfortunately, as a result, less connected with the people who really matter – our family. I would like to believe that one of Heavenly Father’s purposes for this tribulation we are currently facing is to bring families closer. This time that we spend literally together at home as a family is heaven’s way of reminding us that there is more to life than just day-to-day school and work and that we should invest our time in something more significant and with eternal value – working to develop our family relationships. President Harold B. Lee said, “The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.” So, just keep the faith and trust that everything that is happening is for our growth and will come to pass, and for now, let us keep our families occupied with fun, entertaining, worthwhile, and righteous bonding activities.
What Other Families Do at Home to Keep Busy Amid the Covid-19 Situation
Sarah Pilobello-Mariano, mother of three, from Pampanga:
“What to do when you have three active boys and you're stuck at home due to Community Quarantine? Give them enough activities to keep them busy! So we made a schedule that we think we can keep (yes, include them in the planning) and I just had to make sure it was followed through.
“With sacrament meetings to be held at home, we decided to have our daily Come, Follow Me lessons also in the morning to start the day in a spiritual high. Outdoor activities come next: so far, we have done various sports, gardening, learning to dance the tinikling, or just lazing about in the hammock. Lunch break comes with their respective kitchen chores: alternately cooking rice, washing dishes, and feeding pets. After a bit of resting, they do indoor activities that have included drawing, reading, practicing on their musical instruments, brushing up on science and math lessons, and even learning to use the sewing machine so they can make face masks! Right now they are looking forward to learning to speak Chavacano from their Lola!
“At the end of the day, we reflect on the day that passed. We have learned to be thankful for the things/resources that we enjoy without leaving the comfort of our home. The boys have focused on the things they can do together as brothers, and on rediscovering the deep bond that they have always shared. As for me, I just remind them of the schedule, give them suggestions, and enjoy these little moments of perfection in this present world of sadness and chaos.”
Liza Solivio-Beriong, mother of two, Antique:
“As a homeschooling mom, I could say that we have been a tad bit prepared for these trying times in terms of keeping kids busy and happy at home.
“Some of the things that proved useful include various exercises in reading, writing, and coloring. I made sure to keep a small collection of books in an accessible place for when they feel like reading. We have papers, pens, coloring materials, and a whiteboard marker for their drawing time. I involve them in simple chores like spraying and wiping doorknobs and their study table, fixing the bed, and packing their toys away.
“But what really keeps them occupied for longer periods is their imagination. They sometimes pretend to be ninjas, kings, animals, and more, all while using their existing toys, our blankets, sticks, or whatever useful item they could find around our home. We were also blessed to have a yard where they can run around and play. They sometimes express how they miss going out but because we sat them down and explained carefully what’s happening, they understand.
“We have two “watch days” in a week. These are when they could watch the cartoons they love once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Last Sunday, I had them watch a video related to the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week. We had a short discussion after that. We let them browse through the Book of Mormon and Old Testament stories. We read a book or tell a story before bedtime. All these things are working so far.
“I’ve learned that we don’t need to be in charge of every minute of our children’s happiness. Apart from scheduled activities, we have to give them free time. Boredom inspires creativity. I can’t tell you how many stories they’ve created and shared, drawn, and acted out. Their imagination is endless.
“If I am asked for any tips, I would probably just encourage everyone to spend regular uninterrupted special time with their kids. Let them choose what you’d do together and do that with full attention. Extend cuddle and tickle time each morning as much as possible. Make memories and tell them you love them more often. Happy and contented kids will not hesitate to play alone later on, because they know you’re just there and they are secured of your love for them.”
Simple White Bread Recipe
Servings: 1 loaf
1 1/3 c Warm water
1/8 c Granulated sugar
½ tbsp Salt
1 ½ Room-temperature butter or oil
2 ½ c All-purpose flour
Up to 2 c additional all-purpose flour during kneading
2 ¼ tsp Instant dry yeast
3/8 c Warm water
In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture ingredients. Stir until yeast dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the additional flour) into the bowl. Using your mixers dough hook, mix on low speed while gradually adding the extra flour for kneading. Continue to mix until the dough forms. The dough should be soft and tacky, but not sticky. The sides of the mixing bowl should be almost clear, if not completely.
Place dough on a lightly greased baking sheet. Knead a few times and form it so it is shaped into a half-sphere. Coat the top with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for about an hour. It should double in size.
Turn dough on to a clean, lightly floured surface and gently pat it into a 9-inch rectangle. Roll it up tightly and transfer it into a greased 9-in loaf pan. Loosely cover with the plastic wrap used earlier and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Brush some melted butter or oil on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before slicing.
Store in a sealed bag at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze for up to a month.