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Published on March 26, 2020

Keeping kids busy during the COVID-19 pandemic

How to keep kids busy at home

Given how exhausting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is, it's understandable why parents let their children spend hours with the TV, tablet or video games. After all, happy, quiet kids make for happy parents, right?

Chad Dobson, community wellness coordinator at Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics, says what children need most is time to use their imagination and do what they do best play. "You might be surprised by how many activities children can do independently once you get them started," he suggests.

Chad outlines three categories to keep kids busy and motivated during this uncharted time in history. Don't be surprised if, after starting an activity, you want to play too!


Creative expression provides many opportunities for communicating emotions and working through them. Keep it simple. Grab some papers, crayons and tape to create a board game. Let your children design the game and create the rules. The value of ownership of the new idea/game will create worth. This gives children new ways of doing old ideas and activities.


The benefits of physical activity are endless. Challenge your kids to create their own circuit training activity. Pick fun exercises that everyone can perform for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Exercises can be team-based or solo. For example, one circuit pattern might focus on the whole body first, then the upper body followed by the lower body repeated within a 30-minute window. Take one minute of rest between circuits. The only props needed are hand weights (use soup cans if you don't have dumbbells) and your body weight.


Create moments that teach children how to learn about helpfulness. For example, don't feel the need to reward your child for every act of helpfulness, such as clearing the dinner table. Expect your kids to help around the house, with siblings and with neighbors and only reward those special, above and beyond acts of kindness.

It's a good idea to talk with your children about caring and uncaring acts that they may see on television. Make gratitude a daily ritual, perhaps at dinnertime or bedtime. Express thanks for those who help in large and small ways and the importance of approaching situations from a place of care.

For more tips on keeping kids busy, visit the Health & Wellness section of our website.

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