How Large Families Are Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic and Social Distancing

Merrifields Organizing

During a time when most schools are closed indefinitely, many parents are adjusting to having their children home during the day. While most families are dealing with an extra or child or two, large families are dealing with a house full.

With so many sporting events and activities also being canceled, parents in large families are finding creative ways to keep everyone healthy, happy, and entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Make Meals Fun

Have kids take turns planning the menu. Work together on choosing recipes and creating shopping lists. If your grocery store is frequently out of certain items, work on finding adequate substitutes—such as using applesauce instead of butter. 

Then, assign jobs for meal prep and clean up. You can even play “restaurant” and have the kids play various roles—like waitstaff, cook, and host.

Take Turns Creating Challenges

Some of the best games are the simple ones people make up. Let each child create a silly or fun challenge for the family to try on certain days.

It could be an all-day challenge, like you have to try and avoid saying a common word. Or, you might have a timed challenge, like everyone tries to draw a picture of a cat with their non-dominant hand. Half the fun comes from kids tapping into their creativity to invent their family challenge.

Build Forts

Fort building can be hours of fun! But you have to be willing to let the kids play with cushions, pillows, and blankets. It might get messy, so make them take part in the cleanup too.

You might turn their forts into places for story time. Or, you might find they enjoy building lego castles or putting together puzzles more when they’re in their fort.

Camp in the Living Room

Even when you can’t go on a family vacation, you can always go camping in the living room. Create tents out of blankets, use tea lights to create the ambiance, and have snacks ready to go. 

Get the kids involved in planning your “camping trip” too. They may have some great ideas about how to make your “trip” a real adventure and stave off cabin fever.

Tell Stories

Gather everyone together, and take turns telling short stories. You might also work on group storytelling—where each person makes up one sentence at a time. Or invite everyone to share a story revolving around a certain theme, such as a person, animal, place, or time period.

You might have your kids write out their stories first (you could incorporate this into some of their learning activities). And then, have everyone share their stories in the evenings.

Take Turns Choosing Activities

Rather than become the entertainment coordinator, enlist the kids’ help in finding things to do. Assign each child the task of picking an activity everyone can do together during a designated family time.

You may also want to create a “kids’ time” where they find activities they can do together without an adult. This is especially important if you’re trying to work from home. But allowing them to choose activities can prevent boredom and help everyone stay happier while staying home.