How to Survive Quarantining With Kids

If your child gets COVID-19, they'll need to isolate and quarantine at home for days. Here are practical tips for keeping your child happily occupied at home from a mom who has been there.

boy sticking his drawing on window
Photo: Getty Images

While the long lockdowns from the initial stages of the pandemic are over, COVID-19 is still a part of our lives. People still get exposed and infected, and local outbreaks continue to occur.

If your child is exposed to COVID-19, they may need to quarantine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If they have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, they'll need to isolate at home.

Quarantining at home with your kids can be challenging for children and parents alike. However, there are lots of fun things you can do to keep your kids happily occupied. Learn more about how to help kids be content, engaged, and active while stuck at home.

Quaratining vs. Isolating

How you keep your child occupied while quarantining (if exposed and unvaccinated) or isolating (if symptomatic or positive) will depend on whether or not they test positive for COVID-19 and/or if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness. If they are not feeling well, you'll want to tend to them similarly to how you would if they had the flu and do your best to isolate them from well family members to avoid getting others sick. Encourage lots of rest and fluids, and manage their symptoms as needed. Consult your child's doctor if you have any questions about their ideal care.

However, many children have very mild or asymptomatic cases—or they are exposed to the virus but do not develop an infection. In those cases, staying home for multiple days in a row can be challenging. Most kids will get antsy pretty quickly. Here are ideas for how to keep them occupied when they need to stay home.

Make Each Day Different

When the days blend together, it can make time stretch even longer. So, set a goal to make each day stand out from the one before. Aim to plan at least one activity to break up the time. Ideas include baking bread, setting up a fort, having a disco dance party with glow sticks, soaking in the tub with a special bath bomb, making a collage, creating tie-dye shirts, or setting up an indoor scavenger hunt.

Remember, too, that each day doesn't have to be extra special, only different. Planning just one small activity a day can give you purpose, offer something for everyone to look forward to, and make each day feel distinct.

Seek the Outdoors as Much as Possible

Try to get outside as much as the weather allows, even if it means bundling up to brave the cold or waking early to avoid the heat of the day. Outside time could be as simple as doing a quick walk around the block or breaking out the sidewalk chalk. Just remember to keep your distance from others and wear a mask.

Being outdoors is an effective way to help kids burn off busy energy, and connecting with nature gives a sense of awe and delight. If you have access to a backyard, patio, or porch, that's another safe way to get in some outside time.

Sign Up for Virtual Classes

Virtual class offerings have greatly expanded since the start of the pandemic. There is something for everyone: Juggling, singing, drama, crafting, science experiment classes—you name it. Try family-friendly online experiences from Airbnb, where you can learn tricks from a magician and spend time with a shark scientist. Or try online dance, yoga, and cooking classes on platforms like Eventbrite. Atlas Obscura offers workshops on the secrets of museums and how to explore caves.

Beyond the class itself, it can be nice to have something on the calendar to plan for and anticipate. Your child will enjoy the mental stimulation, and the classes will broaden their interests.

Exercise Together

There are lots of ways to get the wiggles out. Try jumping jacks, obstacle courses, indoor bikes, yoga, Pilates, stretching, and dancing. When motivation lags, consider virtual races like those offered by The Conqueror Virtual Challenges. Each day, you log your miles and check your location on Google Maps. In the end, you receive a medal in the mail, which provides a real sense of accomplishment while helping you stay physically fit. If you have access to a backyard or other private outdoor space available, you can also do family workouts outside.

Break Out the Games

Games of all kinds can be lifesavers. Of course, most kids will love the chance for extra screen time, including video games, movies, and other media content. Jigsaw puzzles and mazes, board games, and card games will also keep many kids occupied for hours. Fun ideas include Connect 4, Sorry!, Spot It!, Uno, and Apples to Apples. Wii games and VR headsets also can keep kids engaged and moving.

Get Creative

Use your imagination (and your child's) to come up with creative ways to spend your days. For example, you could plan an indoor camping trip. Make s'mores in the oven and swap ghost stories by flashlight. Scatter stuffed animals around the house. Then, go on a nature walk indoors and see how many "creatures" you can spot. With the addition of a cozy tent, your living room will suddenly have an air of adventure.

A roll of butcher paper can provide limitless entertainment. Encourage your child to draw a city to drive Hot Wheels around in. Outline the upper half of their body on the paper, then have them paint or decorate the cutout. Mail drawings to friends and relatives. Create forests and oceans and troll worlds. The blank page can help their imagination soar.

Take a trip to a foreign land by reading about another country. Try local delicacies from your chosen land. Look over maps, read histories, listen to music, or watch movies from the country you picked. Then log on to Zoom for a virtual street tour through Airbnb's online experiences or go on Google Maps to tour the local sites. This is a memorable and fun way to widen your child's worldview, even while staying home.

Set Up Digital Conversations

Fill an iPad with the phone numbers of relatives or friends who might welcome a FaceTime call from your child. This approach can help keep them engaged socially, giving you a chance to get your own work done, tend to household chores, or have a little time to yourself. Meanwhile, your child can maintain essential connections and feel close to their loved ones.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles