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How to have fun at home with your kids during COVID-19

So, times are a little crazy right now and it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has, er, extended Spring Break for a while for families in BC. We know this is a stressful time for everyone as we learn what the new normal is and how to adapt to it. It may not be the best time to book your usual Spring road trip to see us, but don’t worry—we’re saving some ducks for your next visit.

But in the meantime, there’s no reason why you can’t be having fun at home. At Accent Inns, we believe there’s room for lighthearted play in every situation. In case you’re running low on creative things to do, we’ve got fifteen free & fun ways to cope with COVID-19 cabin fever! These ideas run a range of ages and abilities, and we hope they’ll inspire some fun activities with your family.

Mandy Farmer and her dad, Terry Farmer have a pillow fight on an Accent Inns bed

Accent Inns CEO, Mandy Farmer, has a pillow fight with her dad and former CEO of Accent Inns, Terry Farmer. Pillow fights are a great way to get that energy out!

#1. Lions, sea otters and bears—oh my! Many institutions like the San Diego Zoo or the Vancouver Aquarium are closed to the public, but they’re still caring for their critters every day! They’ve got livestreams set up so you can watch different animals in action from the comfort of your sofa. Need more variety? Explore.org has a massive library of live animal cams, from sheep barns to living room puppies. We dare you to not have fun watching a litter of puppies wake up from a nap!

Adult sea otter looks at the camera

Spend a few relaxing minutes watching otters splish splash together with the Vancouver Aquarium’s live cameras

#2. Take a trip down memory lane. Pull out your old photo albums and spend some time with your kids, telling the stories that accompany the photos and sharing memories.  Ask your kids what they can remember from the vacation you took when they were tiny. See if they can identify YOU in your childhood photos! If you rolled your eyes at the idea of having the time to curate photo albums, you’re not alone! We get it: there are only so many hours in the day. But go digital! Pull up some photos online and take your time to tell stories.

#3. Embrace the obstacles. No matter your space, you probably have everything you need to create an obstacle course. This is a suggestion that our President & CEO Mandy Farmer pulled from her kids’ younger years. Her obstacles included “walking a 2×4 plank, crawling under a tunnel of chairs, 5 bounces on the bed and a ‘kiss your mom’ station.” A few laps on this and your kids might actually go down for a nap.

Small blonde child crawling under a living room chair

Obstacle courses can be as difficult or as easy as you want them to be. You’re the boss!

#4. B-I-N-G-O. You’ve probably got a shelf full of awesome books, but your kid is bargaining with you for more screen time. Sound familiar? Check out this creative, free printable for fun “Reading bingo” sheets to add a little more dazzle to your bookshelf. First to get a bingo gets to choose tonight’s frozen pizza topping!

#5. Storytime with Olaf! One beautiful thing to come out of this crisis is seeing folks share what they can to help their neighbours and strangers feel less isolated. It’s especially cool when this generosity comes from big names like Josh Gadd. Gadd, AKA Frozen’s Olaf-in-real-life, is doing daily storytime live from his Twitter feed. And you know he does the voices, too. So grab your Elsa and Anna enthusiasts and enjoy the story!

Olaf from Frozen with caption "Hi everyone. I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!"

Take a brief break from watching Frozen 2 on Disney Plus for Twitter storytime with the man behind Olaf.

#6. Transform your space. In this world of technological tools, sometimes it’s easy to forget the simple power of some imagination and masking tape. Give your little ones a roll of masking tape and free reign to create their own world. Our President & CEO Mandy Farmer used this trick with her family and says, “it always a huge, huge, HUGE hit with my kids so that they could not only create their own world, but then play in that world for weeks on end!” Best part? It’s totally temporary and won’t damage your furniture or paint! Whether they create hopscotch, an off-road race track or a wall-playhouse, we want to hear what brilliant creations your family comes up with!

With a roll of masking tape, your house can turn into a race track!

#7. Or…just go to space. NASA-funded educational animated series Space Racers has made all of their episodes available for free online. Guilt free TV time! Not only is the series super educational, but they’ve also released educator-approved lesson plans and activities related to each episode. Basically, it’s like sending your kids to school. Or to space. You’re sending them to space school!

#8. Relax with kid-friendly yoga. Speaking of space, Cosmic Kids Yoga has fee classes on yoga and mindfulness for youngsters. These high-quality videos are super accessible to kids, with fun colours and characters that they love. Who couldn’t benefit from some new relaxation techniques during this uncertain time?

Couldn’t we all use a little relaxation and mindfulness right now?

#9. Indulge in some theatre. You may think you’ve run out of things to do in the house, but don’t underestimate the stories your kids can create! Pull out the tickle trunk and challenge your kids to create an after-dinner play for you! They can write it or recreate their favourite story, using props and sets and costumes they make themselves. If you’ve got an Accent Inns duck tucked away from your last stay, be sure to include it! They love the stage.

#10. Don’t stop learning. Hold on to that feeeeeeelliiiing. Oops, sorry we got carried away there. Seriously. Just because school’s out doesn’t mean that learning is out! In fact, if you ask the fine folks at Scholastic, learning is definitely in. They’ve responded to the pandemic by publishing amazing, free learning experiences for kids of all ages, that they can work through with you or with quiet, self-guided study time.

Your kids can learn about spiders, domino designers or robot dogs!

#11. Keep it scheduled. Kids crave routine as much as we crave chocolate cake. It’s just a fact. The brilliant minds at the Khan Academy have released sample schedules for kids at home, with a wealth of usable recommendations and links for how to fill that schedule. Want to make your own? Check out this amazing visual resource so you and your little one can plan out their home schedules together.

#12. (We like to) move it move it! We know that the safe move right now is to remove playgrounds, play centers and most of your regularly-scheduled extra curriculars. But, your kids are still going to need to release their wiggles somehow! Enter Go Noodle to save the day (and your sanity!) Short, interactive games and online sessions encourage healthy movement in an indoor-friendly environment. Who knows, grown-ups might enjoy them too!

#13. Get things cooking. Listen, with reduced grocery trips we’re all getting creative with meals these days. So why not get your kids in on the fun? Let your kids whip up dinner with whatever ingredients you have on hand. How bad can it be? (We won’t judge you if you have a back-up plan up your sleeve!) You can up the ante and turn it into a competition if you want—parents can judge the best dish and the winner doesn’t have to do dishes! If that’s all a bit ambitious for you, just bring your kids into the kitchen to help with your regularly-scheduled-meal-making.

Mother and son bake together

Who couldn’t use some help in the kitchen, right?

#14. Just start arguing. Ok, but not really. Dinnertime conversation may slow down a bit when there’s no way to lean on the old “what did you do at school today, Jimmy?” Family friendly podcast Smash, Boom, Best is a debate podcast for kids that will no doubt spark some lively conversation. Debates include hot topics such as “pizza versus tacos” and, after each side makes their case, a kid judge declares the winner. Not ready to tackle these kind of arguments as a family? Check out this list of family-friendly podcasts to find a better listen!

#15. Add some colour. Maybe it’s not a great time to plan a road trip to your favourite Accent Inns hotel to collect a new duck. But now, the ducks are coming to you! We’ve got free, downloadable and downright ducky colouring sheets for your families to enjoy! Make sure you snap a photo of your masterpieces and share them with us!

 

We’re trying to encourage fun, but we have no intention of making light of the pandemic. From all of your friends at Accent Inns, we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.We know that the changes are large in scope and can be scary, especially when your children rely on a routine for their mental health and if you or someone you love has an increased risk. Remember, social distancing is only a physical limitation. Make sure you’re checking in and staying connected to your friends and family through phone calls, Skype dates and texting. And if there’s anything we can do to support our community, please let us know.Take care of yourselves and each other!