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Parenting during COVID-19

Published April 16, 2020
Colby, 3,  and Sydney Sherwood take the family dog Wookiee for a walk in the neighborhood in San Angelo, Texas, April 16, 2020. Walking with Colby gave us valuable bonding time and wore him out enough for a nap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)

Colby, 3, and Sydney Sherwood take the family dog Wookiee for a walk in the neighborhood in San Angelo, Texas, April 16, 2020. Walking with Colby gave us valuable bonding time and wore him out enough for a nap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)

Colby, 3,  kicks a soccer ball towards the net while practicing for his team in San Angelo, Texas, April 16, 2020. Sports have taught Americans of all ages valuable life lessons about discipline and teamwork. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)

Colby, 3, kicks a soccer ball towards the net while practicing for his team in San Angelo, Texas, April 16, 2020. Sports have taught Americans of all ages valuable life lessons about discipline and teamwork. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood)

In the United States Military, 44.1% of active duty members have children. Suddenly many of us were told to stay home unless we leave for essential reasons. This means a lot of us are now trying to complete the mission with kids at home as their schools and daycares have been closed. 

Working from home with kids can be very difficult, personally I’m writing this while throwing a bouncy ball for my three-year-old son to chase. Children need constant stimulation and while it’s tempting to just turn on the tv and let them watch until you’re free, I’ve come up with some ways to keep you and your child active. Some of these are only possible when you’re not working but hey, who doesn’t like playing with their kid after a long day of work? 

It’s also worth mentioning you can always do these on your own. I won’t judge your inner child coming out.

  1. Make a cardboard fort: With the order to stop all nonessential travel we have way more boxes from online shopping than I’m willing to admit. With a roll of duct tape, some blankets, and a touch of imagination we now have a fort fit for a king! This can be used for anything! My wife is a princess and the dog is a dragon and it keeps him entertained for hours. 

  2. Take a virtual field trip: While many locations are closed you can still travel to them virtually. Zoos, aquariums, parks, historical locations, they’re all giving virtual tours online. It’s only a search away and they’re free.

  3. Go for a walk: Many trails still remain open and you’ve always got your local neighborhood. Get in some exercise with your loved ones. Maybe dust off your bike or learn to skate.

  4. Chalk your walks: Along with walking you can make drawings for people to enjoy as they walk too. All it takes is a bucket of chalk and a little creativity. Can’t draw? Leave a nice note.

  5. Write a letter: We’ve all written at least one letter in our lifetimes. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of us have kept some of those letters in a safe place too. Write an old fashioned letter to friends or relatives with your child, include a drawing or a photo. The snail mail is still going strong.

  6. Make homemade playdough: Flour, cream of tartar, salt, olive oil or vegetable oil, water, and some food coloring. Super easy to make and it will keep your little ones occupied day after day.

  7. Learn to code: I’m not saying your kid should be a web developer by the time this is over, just the basics. There are many free resources that have games and they will teach your kids the basics of coding. Is your child more hands-on? There’s plenty of toys out there that teach you to code and can be programmed to do many things. 

  8. Origami: Origami has been around since the 17th century. With a little help from the internet, you can make a dog in minutes and your kids can have reusable puppets to play with.

  9. Dance: Dancing is a fantastic exercise both for the body and the mind! It burns calories fast! You can burn hundreds in an hour. Turn on your kid’s favorite song or maybe one from your own playlist and dance like no one is watching.

  10. Learn a second language: Ig-pay atin-Lay? In the modern world picking up a second language is easy and very useful. Get a free app or a book from the library. See how many words you and your kids can learn in a day.

  11. Exercise: It’s important to stay healthy and battle-ready 24/7. Do some simple exercises with your family or incorporate your kids. I use mine as a weight for curls and he sits on my back when I do push-ups. It’s fun for him and hard for me, win-win.  

  12. Cook: Cooking is a very important life skill and something that can be learned at an early age. Even if they’re just throwing some ingredients in a bowl it’s a lot of fun and very useful.

  13. Go on a bear hunt: Many neighborhoods are taking a page out of a book and putting teddy bears in their windows or in trees, we’ve even seen some on a roof. Count how many bears you see and consider putting your own out to see.

  14. Clean: Not a lot of people enjoy cleaning but there’s no better time than the present. Make it a fun game and see how fast you can get the toys in the bucket or sweep all the dust into a big pile and let them vacuum it up. 

  15. Color: Coloring is a favorite activity of any kid or adult! Grab a coloring book and some colored pencils and let your creativity flow. There’s plenty of free coloring book pages online and you can always make your own in free photo editing software. 

  16. Scavenger hunt: Egg hunts might be behind us but you can recreate that fun by making a list of things hidden around the house or the neighborhood. For instance, find something older than you or something blue.

  17. Temporary hair dye: Washable hair dye is a safe and easy way to create some funny looking hair. Take some photos and save them to reminisce on later. 

  18. Create a scrapbook: Take all of the things you’ve done and make a scrapbook. Memories are precious and it’ll be awesome to look back on what you did during your time with your family. 

Our situations right now are strange and hard, but with a little creativity, we can make the best out of them. Stay positive Air Force, we’ve got this.