Home ideas for kids

We find out how to entertain the kids at home when an outing's off the cards…

Maybe you’re one of those parents who look and feel wide awake all the time. You’re never overworked, under-rested or fighting a virus. Your body is quivering with vim and vigour, and your imagination runneth over with creative ideas for family fun. If that’s the case, then (a) more power to you; you’re an inspiration to us all, (b) no need to read further, and (c) why are you still reading, and not running around the garden?

But if, on occasion, you find yourself not just tired but barely conscious – and still in charge of entertaining active tots – focus your eyes long enough to get through this page.

Read on for indoor activities for all ages, which they can get on with while you have a sneaky nap. If you’re feeling semi-energetic, you can always join in from the comfort of the sofa.

Tape up every piece of junk mail and old newspaper you can find. Hand out washable crayons or markers, and commission a mural. Lie on the couch and tell your mini Chagall to enjoy himself while he can because you’d never put the paint job at risk like this after eight hours’ sleep.

Preschoolers love secrets. Ergo, lie down in the bedroom while your partner or friend goes as far away as possible within your vast villa – then play ‘telephone’. Essentially, you whisper the longest and most complex message your child can handle (‘How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?’, ‘She sells seashells on the seashore’ and the like). Have the messenger run to the other adult to deliver the information, and see how close the result is to what was originally said.

Another low-key activity is sippy-cup bowling. Strategically place your supine self at the end of the ‘bowling alley’, set up some cups, and give the babes a soft ball. They roll, you reset. Repeat and snooze.

When you’re really in dire straits, hand over a full box of character Band-Aids and bandages and let them dress their imaginary ouch-ies. Merely tearing open the packaging and peeling off the backing takes little hands a good long while.

Primary schoolers
Wouldn’t it be great if a fairy appeared and whisked your little ones away to summer camp right now? Break out that underused tent and let the kids have a camping adventure in the living room. No tent? Grab some blankets to throw over a table or chairs. Send in sleeping bags, pillows, water bottles, flashlights, favorite toys and games. Encourage whispering so they don’t ‘wake up the bears’.

Alternatively, play ‘fish and chips’. Use a big blanket as ‘newspaper’ and get the kids to take turns being wrapped up just like battered fish.

Have last week’s newspapers on hand? Allow your brood to scrunch the pages into balls and have a newspaper snowball fight – they won’t even need to wrap up warm.

Have a good old-fashioned game of cards. Your tweens have probably moved on from ‘snap’, so bring them up to the next level (www.pagat.com explains the rules of pretty much every card game we can think of). You may know ‘I doubt it’ by its more colourful name, but either way it’s just as much fun. Another crowd pleaser for this age is ‘spit’, which thankfully involves more quick thinking than saliva. A game that will help them learn the foundations of more advanced ones is gin rummy. And of course, if you’re too exhausted to participate, there’s always solitaire.

Mixed ages
Use Dubai’s early darkness to your advantage. Turn out all but one light and show off the shadow puppets of your youth. If your repertoire encompasses only the dog and bunny, refer to www.shadow-puppets.com for inspiration. Its illustrations will easily help you boost your shadowy menagerie to include camels, elephants and bears (plus a slightly disturbing figure called ‘the goose a prisoner’). Just show them how to create the shapes and watch the smiles appear.

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