Help your kids stay busy and happy at home during COVID-19 shutdowns

mom and daughter coloring during covid-19 shutdown
Help your family beat cabin fever with these tips. (Adobe Stock)

With schools closed and many parents working from home, it can be a challenge to keep kids both busy and relaxed. For tips on how to help your child deal with cabin fever, we turned to Jill Twomey-McLaughlin and her colleagues in Child Life Services at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Relax body and mind

Add the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to the changes in families’ schedules and you’ve got a recipe for stress. Help your child unwind while staying focused with these free resources:

Storytime. Audible is offering free stories for kids up to age 18 in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.

Indoor exercise. Try YouTube for free kids’ yoga videos like this one. Peloton is also offering 90 days of free online classes — and you don’t need a fancy bike or treadmill.

Stress busters. If you have a smartphone or a computer, you have access to a wide variety of tools to help you and your kids manage stress and anxiety. Check out apps like Chill, Colorfly, and Headspace and websites such as and

Get creative with meals

Stay on schedule. When it feels like one day just blurs into the next, it’s easy to engage in mindless snacking. But it’s important stay on track. Set consistent times throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Wet your whistle. Be creative in tracking daily water intake to encourage hydration — make a fun chart with stickers, for instance. 

Get kids involved. Ask your kids to go through the pantry and kitchen to see what is available, then create a healthy menu together as a family.

Make time for fun

Create a theme. Mix things up and let kids look forward to positive change by putting in place daily themes. Monday could be sports day — find your Red Sox shirt and wear it proudly, for example. Tuesday could be crazy socks day. Wednesday could be neon day — find your brightest clothes and shine bright! On Thursday, bring out your holiday spirit in your Halloween or Valentine’s shirt. Make Friday hero day and dress up like your hero — it could be anyone from Superman to a family member.

Get organized. Turn time at home into a fun and creative opportunity to organize craft supplies, school supplies, toys, books, and games. This can help your child and family feel productive together while also having fun.

Learn more about our response to COVID-19.

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