1. Get baking
Baking is a great activity for the whole family to do, and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the therapeutic process is good for your mental health. From measuring and mixing ingredients to kneading or decorating, it teaches us a range of creative skills. It can also lift spirits by allowing you to take part in the joy of sharing something that you’ve all made together. A quick search of sites like Pinterest can give you lots of ideas and inspiration to help you get started on your delicious bakes.
2. Get arty
Whether it’s drawing, colouring or painting, art is a relaxing and inspiring activity that offers many health benefits. As well as entertaining small children indoors, making art may also help to reduce stress. Drawing and painting can also help people to express their emotions in ways that may be difficult to put into words. If you want to improve your drawing or craft skills during lockdown, there’s a vast range of free arts and crafts resources online. Some artists are even sharing free virtual art lessons.
3. Try a building block challenge
Daily or weekly Lego or building block challenges can be another fun way of keeping children mentally stimulated and entertained. One study suggested that the parents of children who played with building blocks reported better communication skills in their children. If you’re a working parent, you could set them a new challenge each day; there are lots of free downloadable 30-day Lego challenges on the internet to follow. Or the whole family could get stuck into a building block project and see where your imagination takes you.
4. Write a story
Why not encourage your child to write their very own story? This can help them to practise their reading, writing, creative thinking and communication skills. Start by helping your child to create a character and giving them a name – what do they look like and how do they behave? Then think about when and where the story takes place – maybe it’s on another planet in the future or another country set in the past. Develop the plot by encouraging your child to think about what happens to their character and give their story a beginning, middle and an end – the possibilities are endless.
5. Play board games
Playing board games is another opportunity for families to connect in an entertaining way and build positive relationships. Not only can board games provide entertainment, but they can also help to keep adults’ brains sharp and teach children a range of educational and social skills. So, have a rummage through your cupboard and dig out those classic board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Twister. There are plenty of free board games on the internet that you can download and print too, like snakes and ladders and dominoes.
6. Dance your worries away
It doesn’t matter if some members of your household never dance, while others enjoy dance classes. Dancing to favourite tunes or enjoying an online dance class is a great way for families to bond and is good for your health. It also releases endorphins in your body – feel-good hormones that help you to feel happy. With time to spare you could practise learning some new dance routines with the family or just have some good old-fashioned fun dancing together. So, put on your dancing shoes and get moving.
7. Build an indoor camp or den
Who doesn’t love building a den? Keep you and your children busy by building your own cosy little hideouts for the whole household to enjoy. And allow yourself the perfect excuse to revisit childhood memories of rainy days spent building dens at home. Get imaginative using sofas, bedroom cushions, duvets and blankets to create the ultimate indoor den. You could even use toys, pillows and other household obstacles to create an indoor obstacle course. There are lots of tips on the internet for building indoor dens using household items.
8. Have a spa day
The pandemic has understandably been a time of much uncertainty and worry. So why not take this time to teach your children about the importance of self-care and taking time out? You could try setting up your own indoor spa with your children. Think home-made face masks, manicures and pedicures, hand massages and bubble baths. Building these self-care rituals into your family routine can be a wonderful way to relax – and give your family’s wellbeing a healthy boost.
9. End the day with relaxation
Try transforming an area of your house into a calm and relaxing space by playing some calming music and dimming the lights at the end of the day. Then use this space and mood to try out mindfulness relaxation techniques or do an online yoga or meditation class with your children before bed. The Cosmic Kids channel has a series of ‘Cosmic Kids Zen Den’ mindfulness and meditation videos for younger children, to help deal with stress and anxiety.
10. Grow cress heads
If your household likes gardening, why not try growing your own cress heads with eggshells or tights? This is a fun and simple activity to do indoors with children, who will love decorating their creations. Watching the cress grow each day can be a wonderful way to teach your child about how seeds and plants grow. These two videos give step-by-step instructions on how to grow your own cress heads using eggshells or a pair of tights.