Many schools had their spring breaks back in March, before we were all locked in our houses to avoid COVID-19. However, for those of us at Randolph-Macon Academy, and some other schools as well, spring break has just begun, and we’re already tired of seeing our tweens and teens glued to their phones and TVs. You can only go for so many walks outside, and there is still an entire week before the online classes start back up. What’s a parent to do?
I turned to our faculty, staff and my "secret weapon," and asked them: What can our parents do to help their homebound teens and tweens engage in some fun, even though they are stuck at home? And as always, they came to my rescue.
- At-home “Chopped Dinner Challenge.”
Split the house into two teams and select a few required ingredients to be used for dinner and dessert, and see where the imagination takes everyone! If you have an odd number of people in the house, even better, because that odd person out can select the ingredients and be the final judge! (This one came from my "secret weapon"–my sister-in-law who is a guidance counselor and has three children to keep entertained!)
- Go through old photos.
Use this time to connect your children to their extended family by sharing stories of growing up. Break out those old photo albums. Take the boxes of loose photos and get them organized. Or go through the thousands of digital photos you have stored and decide which ones you want to get printed. Make a scrapbook!
- Have a campfire in the backyard.
If you’re apartment-bound, make your s’mores in the oven (we actually prefer them this way!) and sit on the floor with pillows and blankets. To make a s’more in the oven, take a graham cracker square, layer on a few pieces of chocolate and a marshmallow, and top it off with another graham cracker square. Bake it for a few minutes at a mere 250 degrees until the marshmallow is gooey, and you’re all set!
- Family Game Nights.
I know, not very original, but here is a twist to make it a bit more interesting: Work your way through every single game in the closet, no matter how old or how silly or how terrible! After each (if you make it all the way through), decide whether to keep it in the family or put it “aside.” Whether that means heading for the yard sale, the thrift store, or the garbage, I’ll leave to you to decide.
- Put on a play or a concert.
Most kids missed out on their spring performances. So if it was music, create a stage, set up the camera, and let them perform for you live (and for relatives virtually)! If it was a play they missed out on performing, can you and the rest of the family fill in parts and come up with some props? Turn a loss into a family victory!
- Make masks for your community.
Everyone from local grocery employees to hospital workers and first responders can benefit from face masks. You can add antimicrobial vacuum filters to make them close to hospital grade, and they can be washed and reused. There are a TON of patterns out there, but here is an informative video to get you started:
- Pizza Dance Off and Nerf Gun Battle.
Whether you order a pizza or throw one in the oven, you have time to kill–so have a dance off! Or, if you’re a fighter rather than a dancer, dig out those Nerf guns and have at it. The person hit the least amount of times when the buzzer goes off (or the pizza arrives) is the winner!
- Puzzle it out together.
If all else fails…how about a puzzle? The bigger the better! Or if you only have small ones, turn it into a race to see who can put them together the fastest.
- Tour a college.
Finally, for those of you who want to feel you are accomplishing something during the break: take a few virtual tours on college campuses. Colleges are beginning to offer online Q&A sessions, virtual tour presentations, and all kinds of opportunities to help you get acquainted with them. This could be the perfect opportunity to “see” those colleges that are on the other side of the country!