If you are like me, then Covid-19 has presented some “unique” challenges. The entire situation has affected many people, both professionally and personally. While the professional/work-related challenges can be extremely scary and nerve-wracking, I have found the personal challenges to be the most frustrating. At least the work-related complications are somewhat out of my control. However, the challenges that affect my personal life, are there for me to control, right?
If your family is like mine (married with 2 highly active boys ages 4 and 6) then the quest for “appropriate/safe” activities is a constant battle. Under normal circumstances, they play indoor soccer in the early spring, baseball in the late summer, outdoor soccer in the early fall, and then splash right into swimming and basketball during the colder months. It’s more than enough to keep my kids and my family extremely busy.
This year without a doubt has been different. Vastly different. Many, if not most, children’s recreational activities have been canceled, shortened, or modified. The quest for things to do while balancing appropriate safety measures has been particularly rough.
All of this has led my family and I to consider different and sometimes new activities. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some things that have been deemed appropriate/safe activities and also share what has worked best for our family in the hopes that you too can find ways to safely entertain your kids while also keeping them active.
Fun and Safe Activities
To begin I wanted to share some fun and safe activities. For the purposes of this blog, my definition of safe will be determined by my interpretation of the Mayo clinic’s definition. The activities listed here have avoided their definition of “High-Risk Activities”. You will notice that a lot of these activities are outdoor activities, which we have found to be great. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following activities:
- Going for walks, runs, hikes
- Rollerblading and Biking
- Fishing and hunting
- Kayaking and boating
- Farmers Markets
- Small outdoor gatherings with friends
- Drive-in Movies
- Swimming pools and beaches
Certain outdoor sports (such as soccer, baseball, tennis) as they allow for appropriate social distancing of spectators and the kids/players are more spaced out as well.
From this list, I will share the tasks that My family has found the most entertaining and joyful.
Swimming Pools and Beaches
My family has found solace in the refreshing waters of both secluded pools and open beaches. If your kids are like mine, they are extremely active. They would honestly spend 10 hours at a swimming pool and not grow tired of it. They’re like fish except that they can occasionally take breaks outside of water to play with sidewalk chalk or chase each other around the yard a bit.
They enjoy themselves, and most importantly, by the end of the day, they are exhausted and collapse into bed with no arguments. (This may be the most important part to dad!).
Luckily, we are blessed to have a family member with an inground swimming pool, but I would encourage you to look into community swimming pools if they don’t have big crowds and also talk to your friends and neighbors. I know that we are constantly looking for friends to come spend summer days at the pool with us and are more than happy to share that pool with others!
And about those beaches. We have some great state parks in Pennsylvania. These places, while sometimes crowded on the weekends, can be almost desolate during the week. They offer a “beach” of sorts for swimming, kayaking/boating (you can either buy your own or typically rent one at the park), and they typically have a nice playground if you are willing to sanitize before and after and find it to be worth the risk. I also have to mention the picnic areas. They are simple enough but offer a great opportunity to spend with family or friends. It makes a pretty perfect day by our family’s definition.
Outdoor Recreational Activities
The biggest surprise to us during all of this has probably been other outdoor recreational activities, mainly riding ATV’s. We were not necessarily expecting to fall in love with this, but our family absolutely loves jumping on a 4-wheeler/ATV and going for long afternoon trail rides. I love it, my wife loves it, and the boys absolutely love it. Truly probably not a big shocker. What four (4) or Six (6) year-old boy wouldn’t love motoring around on an ATV?
We love it so much that we went out and purchased our own! We are again blessed that our property (approximately 2 acres) is connected to the family on all sides. We have approximately 5-10 acres that we can tour around on in addition riding on state trails and family campgrounds if we should so desire.
Rest assured that if you enjoy anything on wheels that the experience of riding around on a 4 Wheeler is second to none (in my opinion).
Another great recreational activity we’ve discovered is camping. It’s been a wonderful experience for our family. My kids simply love a night outdoors. A couple of times a week they will pull the camping gear out and set up the tent in the backyard when bedtime approaches. It can be slightly time-consuming, but it provides a little departure from daily life, and they feel as though it is a wonderful, special occasion. But camping doesn’t have to be done just in your backyard. State Parks and Campgrounds provide great places for your camping adventure. Either way, it is a special treat that doesn’t cost much to enjoy! If you are interested, here is a link to Travel Channel’s 10 Best Family Campgrounds. Maybe there is one near you.
Family Time Is Important
Every family is different. Perhaps yours is like mine and your family can’t get enough of the Great Outdoors. Perhaps your family would be more in favor of swinging by a drive-in movie theater and sitting out on a beach. We enjoy those things as well. But no matter what the most important thing is family. It’s times like now that has provided a great opportunity to spend more time together and to just away from the hustle and bustle of what’s become a very different version of everyday life. If you haven’t quite found your special family activity I would encourage you to not give up! Try some activities from the list above! Eventually, your family will discover a new favorite activity that you can enjoy for years to come.
Who knows? Maybe a new ATV is in your future. You’ll have to find out.