Our mantra right now is "We are all in this together"! And to get through this tough time, Guest Blogger, Amy Austin, shares some "Entertainment Suggestions for Bored and Disappointed Kids" that are missing their friends! Here are 25 ideas. Check back on Thursday, March 26, for 25 more!!

Lego time!

  1. Start planning your next vacation. Where are you going to go when all of this is over? Remind them that it WILL be over, eventually, and you have other adventures on the horizon.
  2. Your libraries provide e-books, audiobooks, and other materials (magazines on Libby, video and music on Hoopla) for free on Libby and Hoopla.
  3. Have your kids plan a meal. Get out the cookbooks or go online and find something that sounds good. Supervise them cooking, but don't do it for them. Start small, with grilled cheese and omelets, and work your way up to more complicated dishes. My 12 year old made Chicken Cordon Bleu!
  4. Board games! If you don't have board games, make your own! Cut a board out of a cardboard box, make tokens out of coins, cards out of copy paper (print them or have the kids write/draw them). Read descriptions of existing games online, and duplicate them. My kids really love Catan, and it wouldn't be hard to make.
  5. Read read read! Read together, read separately, read aloud, (not in a crowd). Read in your head. Read in your bed. Our kids are in 3rd, 7th, and 8th grades, and they all still love it when we read to them. Heck, I read The Martian to my husband on a road trip when he was in his 30s. Reading aloud (and discussing the story) is a great way to spend time with your family, no matter what ages. If a novel is too much of a commitment, read short stories (see above re: Libby and Hoopla). 
  6. Art! Scrounge around the house and make sculptures out of found objects. Paint. Can you make paint out of food? Find out! Remember dioramas? Jack had to make one recently and it was actually a lot of fun. Kids also love clay - make salt dough (2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, food coloring if desired) and make stuff. Use cookie cutters and start making Christmas presents for the grandparents. 
  7. Have you been postponing projects at home, like painting rooms? Now's a good time to get caught up on that stuff. YOUR KIDS CAN HELP! There's a good chance that I will finally get the wallpaper down in my living room this week. I will be so happy to see that horrible wallpaper in the garbage!
  8. Do nice things for your neighbors without talking to them or breathing on them. Help with yard work. Older people, especially, are scared right now. Go rake their leaves or trim their shrubs!
  9. Have you been storing thousands of digital pictures and doing nothing with them? Why not go through them together, upload the best ones to Shutterfly (or similar) and make a book? Or, if your kids are old enough, let them do it on their own.
  10. Clean out closets and drawers, clear out clothes that don't fit, toys that are broken or don't get played with anymore, etc. If it's nice enough outside, I think we'll clean the garage. It needs it. The kids can help.
  11. Sports. Blanket forts. Hide and seek. Tag. Kick the can. What did you love when you were a kid? Do that.
  12. Speaking of our childhoods... make your kids watch all the old movies from when we were kids. Flight of the Navigator! The Princess Bride! Goonies (warning - don't forget about the "stiff in the fridge" like I did!)! Gremlins, maybe? I can't remember that one as well. ET? Watch John Hughes movies with older kids and talk about how much life has changed, and how much has stayed the same, for teenagers.
  13. Movies are fun - give the kids a camera and have them make a movie, then "screen" it for the whole family. Don't forget the popcorn.
  14. Our family absolutely loves making pizza. I give each kid a piece of dough, and they roll out their own crust and top it with their favorites. This is my favorite crust recipe
  15. Have the kids write letters or make cards for distant relatives. Grandparents love mail! Be sure to include a recent picture.
  16. Smoothies are breakfast milkshakes if you make them right.
  17. Make a scavenger hunt list for them of items they can find around the house and yard.
  18. Create a treasure hunt with clues that lead to the next clue and the next, until they find a prize at the end.
  19. Google science experiments that you can do at home with ingredients you probably have on hand. Everybody loves a good baking soda volcano.
  20. Make homemade ice cream. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can do it with two ziplock bags, salt, and ice
  21. Popsicles are fun, too.
  22. Learn how to do a couple magic tricks. 
  23. Put up a tent and go "camping" in the backyard if it gets a little warmer.
  24. Send kids on a walk with a digital camera and have them take pictures of birds, or red things, or bugs, or interesting mailboxes, or license plates (that is especially fun because it will make your neighbors paranoid).
  25. Challenge your kids to write a book, or draw a comic, or draw a "flip book" moving comic.

Parents, embrace this time with your kids! This gives us all an opportunity to try new things. And check back again on Thursday for 25 more from Amy!

Amy Austin and her family

Enjoy this short bio on Amy: "Well, I'm a mom of three awesome kids, 14, 13, and 8. My husband and I have a business in the research park. I live in University Farms. I grew up in Valparaiso. I've lived here since 1998. I went to Purdue. When I talk about myself I use short, declarative sentences because it makes me uncomfortable. :) My idols are Erma Bombeck, because she was the first woman to write authentically about the frustration, joy, and humor of being a wife and mother, and Mary Roach, because she writes about everything - including family life - with humor and curiosity. I'm involved in the parent councils at all three West Lafayette schools, because I love kids and I love public education. I have anxiety disorder, so I feel like I've been preparing for this disaster my whole life. This is my time to shine. Hahaha."