If we ask our children – “Do you want to stay in or go out to play with friends?”
Obviously, their reply would be to play outdoors. It’s an inherent human nature to enjoy being outside.
And this stands true and strong for children if we think back of our own childhood days, especially the summer holidays, playing all day out in the scorching sun and the only intervals would be lunch and dinner.
But now with COVID-19 pandemic, children have no option but to stay indoors. With countries announcing lockdowns and curfews for weeks, we are suddenly finding ourselves with abundant time and keeping children engaged has become a challenging task for many parents.
Many parents are offering plenty of play and activity materials, scheduled screen time, participating in children’s play and activities, yet it seems like it’s not enough.
Outdoor play is essential for children as they feel more active, engaged and most importantly provides a sense of freedom.
An experiment was conducted where 46 preschoolers in daycare were studied. The researchers attached an accelerometer and a GPS device to track the child’s movement all through the day.
When the results were analyzed, it was surprising to learn that children who played outdoors were twice more active.
Realizing the fact that children enjoy playing and being outdoors, how do we provide children almost a similar experience whilst staying indoors?
I am sharing eight fun exercises that I have either played with my son or niece. And towards the end of the article, I would be sharing a tip to make the most of these exercises by committing a small fraction of your time. (Exercise – 2,4 & 8 are my favorite).
1. Yoga Poses: As a family, we all can do this together. Workout a few yoga poses and challenge our children if they can perform the same pose. Any pose that we think would challenge the inner spirit of our child would get him/her more excited.
2. Playing Hopscotch: I assume that we have all played this game sometime in our childhood and I still see elderly people playing this game during the weekends.
We can play this game on our terrace or balcony or even draw the numbers on a long carpet and play indoors. It might seem an old game and we could be assuming that our children wouldn’t find this exciting. But I have played this with my niece and cousins and it’s always fun when it gets competitive.
3. Balloon Ball: There are endless ways to play with balloons. We could tie a thread from one chair to another and create a net to play balloon volleyball or tennis.
Or keep hitting the balloon high so as to keep it off the ground or we could also play catch-catch.
4. Obstacle Course: This one idea was suggested by a friend of mine, whose child thoroughly enjoys playing it with his mum. Create obstacles using furniture – dining chairs, sofa, low stools, ladder, etc.
Prepare your child to cross the obstacles and reach the winning point. He/she will have to sneak out of the chair legs, climb the ladders, jump on the sofa and reach the endpoint. The sky is the limit to be creative and elaborate in designing this.
5. Waterbottle Bowling: We do not have the luxury of visiting a mall or a bowling alley. So let’s create a fun bowling alley in our balcony, living room or at the terrace. Fill up water bottles and let’s use any ball that we have.
6. Headstand: Kids are often natural with this activity. Challenge them to increase their timing with the headstand. We can also ask our children to support us with a headstand if we struggle to do it. Children would be delighted to teach and support us.
7. Learn Some Moves: My 4-year-old niece dances for hours, watching her favorite music video to learn the steps. Today with plenty of How- to’s video on YouTube, it’s now much easier to learn how to bust a move.
8. Hide and Seek: With a lighter version of peek-a-boo to hide and seek, children of all age groups enjoy this thrilling game of hiding themselves in the darkest and remotest places and waiting for the seeker to find them.
Playing this game in the house is more fun with children hiding in the attic, terrace, bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, etc.
It’s for the first time in our lives that we are experiencing staying in for weeks, and it’s important for us as parents to realize that our children are constantly growing, both physically and mentally.
And to meet this constant growth our involvement or support is essential to help them have some outdoor kinda indoor play. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to be available for them 24*7.
As promised in the beginning I would recommend using this tool (Precious Time) which works magnificently by committing a small fraction of our time with children in a manner where they truly enjoy the activity and also surprisingly our children feel extremely connected to us.
Definition of Precious Time is:
It’s a time and space that we allocate to be present (100%) for our children.
During this time, we involve, participate and support our children with any activity that they enjoy playing.
And while playing with them, we avoid giving any suggestions, advice, warnings or lessons.
Committing half an hour every day to Precious Time has increased the parent-child bonding. Parents have also experienced a decrease in tantrums and aggression in children.
Precious Time has shown commendable and guaranteed results in a smaller time frame from as little as a week if a parent spends half an hour consistently every day.
And having time in abundance in the present, I believe half an hour a day is too little I’m asking for. So, let’s make the most with our children and let’s replace our presents with our presence.
Requesting you all to stay in to support one another to be safe and healthy.
And please do share if you have any unique ideas of outdoor kinda indoor exercises that would help the parenting community in keeping their children active and engaged.