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Social Distancing…With Children

Father playing blocks with children 

Posted March 26, 2020 by UVM Medical Center

Safe Kids Vermont is focused on keeping kids safe, and we know part of that is helping keep parents’ sane! 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, or at a loss as to what you can do to keep your children occupied while practicing social distancing, we are here to help. We have seen lots of lists of activities online, but so many of them cost money.   

Here are our tips for free activities that will keep you safe, healthy and only require what you already have around your home. 

Upgrade your screen time 

While it may be tempting to lounge on the couch and binge-watch Netflix, we recommend checking out ymca360.org. This website hosts on-demand videos for everything, from youth sports prepping to yoga and Tai Chi. 

Set aside time each afternoon to run through a video (or two!). My spirit definitely felt lighter after running through the beginner yoga flow! Big thanks to Jess Lukas at the Greater Burlington YMCA for this recommendation. 

Get Creative 

You may not keep your house stocked with traditional craft materials (construction paper, pipe cleaners, glue), but your recycling container may be filled with enough supplies to keep your kids busy for days. 

Remove any sharp or broken metal and glass containers, and help them clean any materials they find. For younger kids, challenge them to build a city, a dollhouse, or even their own bowling aisle. For older children, see if they can build a Rube Goldberg machine or upcycle products into something usable and cool. Hint: Upcycled products make great presents your kids can give family members for birthdays and holidays. 

For older children and teens, you can supervise them as they make their own drinking glasses out of bottles or build cardboard boats and compete to see whose will float the longest in the bathtub. 

Build New Skills

Not all education happens in a classroom. Remember, there’s plenty of lessons to learn around the home!

Now is a great time to start building those skills in kids and teens. Engage your children with age-appropriate cleaning tasks around the house. Young children can help sort laundry by color or engage them in a sock matching race, while older teens can learn the important difference between hot and cold washing machine settings. 

If you have time and tools, have your children help you fix that loose railing on the porch, or learn to repair window screens for summer. Make sure everyone is wearing protective equipment when necessary, such as gloves for handling rough wood and safety glasses around hammers. Years down the road, they will thank you for taking the time to prepare them with these skills. Bonus: When you keep your home in good repair you can remove trip hazards and limit falls. 

Not sure if you have these skills yourself? YouTube has tons of DIY repair videos you can watch ahead of time or with your children. 

Get Cooking and Baking 

Nutritious meals are easier to cook when you have extra sous chefs in the kitchen. Kitchens can be dangerous rooms with sharp knives and hot stoves. Involving children in age appropriate kitchen tasks gets them more comfortable in the kitchen. 

The youngest of kitchen helpers can measure ingredients in measuring cups and can be very skilled at sprinkling spices or cheese over meals. Older kids can learn how to safely use a stove and you can review basic safety at the same time, like turning handles in on the stove and keeping towels and sleeves away from the burners. 

If You Need Support 

There are community resources still open for parents who are feeling isolated, worried about their families, or concerned about being home with children for days or weeks without breaks. 

PCAVT has a parent phone line open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday at 1-800-CHILDREN or 1-800-229-5724.

Abby Beerman is the coalition coordinator for Safe Kids Vermont and is always impressed by the services offered by our coalition member organizations.​​

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