Confining yourself into a small space with your children for 14 days straight is an act of self-sacrifice some will never understand, writes Amanda Cassidy
Let's be honest, in an ideal world, we wouldn't even have school holidays — pockets of time when you have to juggle childcare, children demanding constant snacks and moans of boredom (that's coming from you, by the way).
But with the news that schools will be closing until March 29 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the prospect of 24/7 time to keep the kids occupied has become a reality.
We know there is only so much home-made playdough a person can rustle up before your head explodes entirely, so here are some ideas to remain sane should you have to quarantine yourselves.
Yes, it is controversial but let's keep some perspective, shall we? This is a scenario when you are in lockdown while a 'killer virus' is on the loose. Nobody is watching. You do not need to earn any extra parental stripes in this situation. Don't feel guilty for reading your Kindle while your children watch movies, iPads, Nintendos, phones.
There is nothing wrong with letting them watch 'how to draw' programmes on YouTube while doing art, or let them practise a little yoga on the video platform either. There are plenty of quasi-educational apps that can be used without worrying about square eyes. And don't pretend you didn't grow up on a diet of StreetFighter and Tetris.
It may take a little coaxing for the older ones but don't underestimate the fun in creating an imaginative 'base' out of blankets, cushions, the dining room table. The children will love transporting their books and games inside with a torch and even being allowed to have one of their many, many, many, many snacks within. The downside is the clean up afterwards, but just stick on the timer on your phone or home-assistant and get them to race against it while they dismantle their downy little neighbourhood.
Channel your inner Darina and whizz up some homemade biscuits or casseroles with your little helpers. You'll kill an hour or two and turn a dreary task into something marginally more interesting than usual. Pick a pasta dish and work your way through that giant pasta and toilet roll mountain that now lives in your shed.
I know, cooking and cleaning aren't high on your list of 'fun things to do when on Coronavirus lockdown' but in the grand scheme of things, it might be a nice opportunity to clean out those presses and tiny children's fingers are perfect to dust down those skirting boards. Stick different chores down and let them pick them out lucky-dip style. Lure with promises of home-made biscuits (see above).
You know all those photos you printed out in a fit of fear that your entire life's imagery now lives on a cloud? Well, time to cut, paste and label into scrapbooks. The children can go to town with the glitter and write little stories to go with each memory. You get to put them to good use and maybe even reframe a couple from the dusty hallway. Win-win.
Always wanted to watch the entire Star Wars movies in sequence? Never ever thought about watching the entire Star Wars movies in sequence? Who cares, now you have time to do it anyway. Get in all those classics. Show the children how real movies were made. Big, The Goonies, The Navigator, The Parent Trap, Home Alone, Space Camp. When they are in bed, hit the Godfather movies, start The Wire (use subtitles), dare to tackle Suits. Best of all? You don't have to be 'up' anywhere the next morning so you can binge til late.
Hunt for treasure
While this might take up some valuable Insta-scrolling time, it might be actually fun acting like a child again and coming up with some creative treasure clues and hidden treasure games in the house. Kids love riddles. The prize can be some precious jellies and if you drag it out long enough, it will be time for dinner.
Depending on the age of your offspring, Monopoly and Hotel can be great family activities. Chess, card-games, scrabble and Pictionary are also underrated games everyone can enjoy. For younger ones, mousetrap, fishing games, and hungry hippo are old-school but classics. You might surprise yourself how involved you get after a few days cooped up together. Prepare to see your loved one's true colours.
If you are lucky enough to have some outdoor space, use the time to do all that green-fingering you've been putting off. Consider growing a few vegetables, attempt a homemade obstacle course for the kids, paint the old bench thrown into the back of the garage, have a picnic if the weather isn't being a total ass and enjoy that space you've worked so hard for. Breathe. But not too much in case someone's sneezed nearby.
We are only human. Everything ends up back to screens. It is likely that if we live our lives 90% through screens, that is unlikely to change should you be confined to home. But you can mix things up a little, download a language app and start learning a few words, take that personality test you never have time for, order more pasta online, write to your other penpals who are also self-isolating, create an email account for your kids and write them a few emails about what's going on. And then, research holidays. With Kids' Clubs. And extra Mojito bars. For when this storm has passed.
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