Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

'I'm bored!': Keeping kids occupied, active during COVID-19 outbreak

3/24/2020 by Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin


You're doing your part to help contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) by keeping the kids at home. But as parents and other caregivers are discovering, the novelty of not going to school, being with friends and engaging in sports is wearing off for their kids. Across America, parents already are hearing the dreaded, "I'm bored!" and seeing teens turn into social media zombies. 

What's a parent to do? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips for finding creating ways to keep everyone calm, healthy and engaged in constructive work and play. 

  • Make a plan. Talk with your kids about what your daily structure will be for getting up, meals, telework, schoolwork and breaks to relax, play and connect. 
  • Use social media for good! Check in with neighbors, friends and loved ones. If schools are closed, find out if there are ways to help students who need meals or internet access for at-home learning. Set up video chats to stay in touch. 
  • Select what your child watches. Use trusted sources to find positive content, such as Common Sense Media, which as been compiling lots of ideas for families hunkering down right now. Use media together.
  • Bring your child to "work". For parents working from home, this is a chance to show kids a part of what you do. Encourage imaginative "work" play as for a Take Your Child to Work Day without ever leaving home. 
  • Search out podcasts and audiobooks. These are great ways to keep children's minds engaged while parents get things done. 
  • Go offline. Take walks outside, play board games, read together, have family dance parties, bake, make crafts, teach your child a new skill such as knitting or carpentry. Share your ideas with other families. 
  • Engage with your community — from a distance. Invite families who live around you to join in activities — at a safe distance. Some ideas: concerts or dance parties in your own front yard, sing-alongs, sidewalk chalk art galleries that walkers can enjoy. 

Activity resources

Despite the challenges — and worries —this can also be a time for your family to start new traditions, try new experiences, discover new activities and even look back on in years to come as a special time for all of you. 

Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin is a pediatrician with Primary Care in Rochester/Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). She has a strong interest in child advocacy and media effects on children. She serves as chair of the national American Academy of Pediatric's (AAP) Council on Communications and Media and is on the board of the Minnesota chapter of the AAP. She also holds a master's in Public Health and serves as director of the Pediatric Resident Continuity Clinic.