10 Stay-at-Home Activities
Here are some ways to keep boredom at bay when you have extended time at home.
1. Game Night
Does your family have regular game nights? If not, dust of “Clue,” shuffle your deck of cards and gather around the coffee table!
Some of my favorite family friendly games include: Sushi Go!, Go Nuts for Donuts and Munchkin.
Looking for a literary game? A friend of mine introduced me to a DIY version of Ex Libris years ago. One person chooses a book from the bookshelf and writes the first (or last) line on a piece of paper. Everyone else also writes a plausible first (or last) line on a piece of paper. Then, the lines are read out loud, with everyone voting on the line they think is the correct one. I don’t always love games that put you on the spot by forcing you to make things up quickly (I’m looking at you, Balderdash!), but…I do like books. And games.
2. Get Your Garden Ready
This could be a great time to clean your garden beds, empty your planters of dried, dead detritus, and dream about your garden.
Growing up, my sister introduced us to the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue, and even though I’m not much of a gardener, I’d highly recommend requesting your free copy. It is full of the most amazing fruits and vegetables—tomatoes of all shapes and colors, flowers you’ve never heard of—the variety is incredible!
If you know what you’re going to plant, try making some cute plant labels. For example, paint rocks with a picture of the veggie in question. Another idea I found online, if you’re doing a lot of container gardening, is to paint your terra cotta pots with chalkboard paint. Then you can just write the plant names on with chalk! The Micro Gardener has several great suggestions that would be fun to do with kids.
3. Pizza Party
Honestly, this could be a pancake party, ice cream sundae night, etc. Any kind of food party that’s customizable and a little over-the-top.
I remember attending a birthday party where we each made our own pizzas using refrigerated biscuit dough. Flattening the rounds of dough was the best part. Another option would be to make your own pizza dough, let everyone choose an ingredient ahead of time, then have fun building your pizzas together. Or, purchase a pizza-making kit from Andolini’s.
If your kid is like mine, they might enjoy accompanying a pizza party with a couple episodes of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
4. Backyard Campout
Building on the idea of a blanket fort, one of my favorite activities growing up was backyard campouts. While our family never actually went camping, we usually had a tent on-hand. And NOTHING is more fun than a tent!
Just set it up in the backyard, and add sleeping bags and a flashlight (for telling ghost stories, of course!). If you happen to have a fire pit—or even just a sturdy candle—make some s’mores!
In the event that it’s a little chilly, set up an indoor blanket fort. If it’s structurally sound, no reason why you couldn’t have a living room campout.
5. Family Storytime
I dream of the day Joss and I will just be able to hang out on the sofa together reading books. If your child is old enough to read by his or herself, carve out some time in your day for a quiet reading moment. If not, just have a family storytime! Actually, I recommend reading aloud to your kids even if they are old enough to read by themselves. This is another favorite childhood memory.
Looking for a place to start? Recommendations for fun read-alouds include “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and the Chronicles of Narnia series.
6. Start Your Summer Bucket List
Sit down with your kids and dream about what they’d like to do over the summer! Swimming lessons? A camping trip (to somewhere OTHER than your back yard)? A new hobby?
7. Make a Movie
Pick a favorite story to reenact—it doesn’t have to be complex—or write out a script together! Think costumes, think dialogue, special effects, etc. Will it be a masterpiece? Maybe not. But I’d say it’s 95% guaranteed to be a blast. That 5% is just in case you accidentally go overboard and the whole process becomes more stressful than fun. Eeks!
8. Invent a Recipe
This was an idea inspired by a scavenger hunt I did last summer. Basically, let your child invent and make a recipe. By themselves. The challenge? To step back and allow their creativity to flourish even if things get a bit messy! Since my son was just four years old, I curbed some of the risk by allowing him to choose a few (low-cost) ingredients before moving everything outside onto the porch. Even under these restrictions, he had a blast. He created a cake, whose ingredients included leftover strawberry milk, a handful of spinach, food coloring and flour. It turned out gray, rubbery and totally inedible, but it was worth it to see him having fun doing something new and taking pride in his work.
If your children are older, there’s a better chance that they can actually invent an edible recipe! If they want to try baking, talk about the importance of different elements like eggs and baking powder/soda. Or if they’re going to cook dinner, talk about flavor combinations, seasonings, etc. And of course, it’s a great opportunity to discuss kitchen safety!
9. DIY Spa Day
It’s a break–don’t forget to take time to relax! Make a simple sugar scrub, buy some new nail polish, light a candle and have a spa day! You can look up different sugar scrub recipes, but here’s a basic one:
Simple Sugar Scrub
1 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. coconut oil (use as liquid; microwave for a couple seconds if solid)
A couple drops of food coloring (optional)
A couple drops of essential oils
Mix coconut oil and sugar together. Mix in food coloring, if desired. Once the food coloring is evenly distributed, add a couple drops of essential oils and mix.
10. Sew a Stuffie
You don’t have to own a sewing machine to enjoy making a cute stuffed creation with your kid. My favorite material to work with is felt. It’s cheap, and it doesn’t fray, so it’s easy to work with. Take your kids to your nearest craft store to let them pick out their favorite colors of felt, then go home and start sewing! You may want to invest in some googly eyes, stuffing and hot glue, too.
If you need some inspiration, Google “simple felt animals” for some ideas. You can stuff your final creation or make finger or hand puppets.
This article was originally published February 25, 2020. It has since been updated.