How to keep kids safe & active at home during the pandemic
A lot of things have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, not the least of which is parenting. For many moms and dads, it’s been challenging to balance work, kids and dealing with the stress of adapting to a new way of life.
Before the pandemic, experts urged parents to limit screen time to no more than one to three hours per day. Socializing with other kids and being a part of organized activities, such as sports, may have taken up more of your child’s pre-COVID time. But now, such group play is strongly discouraged.
How can you keep your kids active at home during the pandemic? Should you even try to tear them away from their devices?
Read on to learn why keeping kids active is good for them and get ideas for safe and healthy activities children can do now, even during the pandemic.
Why Keeping Kids Active Is Important
When kids move their bodies through exercise and play, it improves their physical, mental and emotional health. Active kids are more fit and less likely to become obese, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Exercise also boosts mood and helps kids focus and retain information better.
Staying active is essential for kids, even during the pandemic. Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend children ages six to 17 get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.
Activity Ideas for Kids
Since organized activities are mostly on pause right now, you may be at a loss for how to meet your child’s physical activity needs. Consider these ideas:
The coronavirus can be spread through droplets expelled when you breathe heavily and shout – something that’s bound to happen when kids participate in organized team sports.
But families can play sports together in the backyard or at a park. You can also encourage your child to try an individual activity such as skateboarding, rollerblading or swimming (if you have a pool at home).
Spending time outside and getting fresh air is good for you. Consider encouraging your child to:
- Jump rope
- Twirl a Hula Hoop
- Play hopscotch or hide-and-seek
- Go on family walks or bike rides
- Conduct a nature scavenger hunt
- Play with bubbles or chalk
You can find lots of free dance and exercise classes for kids online. You can also take hopscotch inside, using painter’s tape to create lines on the floor, or play a game of hide-and-seek around the house. Some families enjoy setting up indoor obstacle courses and then playing a game of parents versus kids.
Don’t forget that chores count as activity, too. Choose age-appropriate tasks. For example, preschoolers can separate laundry while tweens can run their own wash and fold and put away clothes. Cleaning the home keeps kids moving, teaches them life skills and contributes to the household.
Get more tips and the latest coronavirus information from UCLA Health.