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Nine creative ideas to keep families busy indoors during lockdown

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
30 April 2020

It’s hard to slow down when you’re trying to juggle a million things. It’s even harder to be mindful of whatever you’re doing at that time. But now’s the perfect time for you to do less, and regain some balance by getting creative as a family.

Whether it’s stimulating our minds or helping us to relax, creative activities can work wonders for our mental health. They allow us to focus on the present moment and help us to reconnect as a family. Here are nine ways your household can get creative indoors during lockdown.

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 our 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. Many celebrities have gone online since lockdown to share their favourite recipes and creations. These might be a good source of inspiration for getting started on your creations.

2. Grow cress heads with eggs or tights

If your household likes gardening why not try growing your own cress heads with eggs? This is a fun and simple activity to do indoors with children, who will love decorating their eggs and watching the cress grow. Or, if you’re running low on eggs you can grow cress heads with a pair of tights. Watching the new growth each day can be a wonderful way to talk to 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 eggs, or a pair of tights.

3. Get arty

Whether it’s making something from scratch, drawing, colouring or painting, art is a relaxing and inspiring activity, and offers many health benefits. As well as entertaining small children during uncertain times, making art has been linked to stress reduction. 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 during lockdown.

4. 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 also suggests 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 their imagination takes them.

5. Create an animation

Why not take the building block challenge one step further by encouraging your children to make their own building block movie, using stop-motion animation? All you need is a camera and lots of time and practice. To bring the models to life, simply take a photo, move your character a tiny bit, and then repeat the process. You could also write a story that captures your children’s imagination, and have fun designing a creative backdrop for your movie. There are free animation teaching resources for beginners and different abilities online.

6. Play board games

Playing board games is another opportunity for families to connect in an entertaining way and build positive relationships. And they offer a lot more than just entertainment. They can 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. To keep little ones entertained there are plenty of free board games on the internet that you can download and print, such as snakes and ladders and dominoes.

7. 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 our body, which makes us 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.

8. Make an indoor camp or den

Who doesn’t love den building? 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 can 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.

9. End the day with some creative relaxation

When we’re surrounded by stressful events it’s important to take time out for some relaxing self-care and mindfulness. Try transforming an area into a calm and relaxing space by playing some mindfulness music, dimming the lighting and burning candles. Then use this space and mood to try out mindfulness relaxation techniques or do an online yoga or meditation class with your children. 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.

There’s also no reason why you can’t set up your own indoor spa with your children. Have fun putting on home-made face masks, exfoliating, doing nail pedicures and painting, hand massages and bubble baths. Building these self-care routines into your family routine can be a wonderful way to relax, and give your family’s wellbeing a healthy boost.

Caroline Harper
Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK

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