Screen time and schedules: How 34 parents are attempting to keep their kids occupied at home.

If you’re a parent or the carer of children, our thoughts are with you.

Why? Because amid COVID-19 isolation newsschools closing in some states, and parents choosing to homeschool their kids in others, you are the ones faced with a new normal that involves entertaining kids in isolation all day, every day. Or the even more difficult task of entertaining said kids while also working from home.

WATCH: All your COVID-19 questions, answered. Post continues after video.

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It’s a daunting idea – just thinking about it makes you laugh and cry and want to stay under the doona until it’s all over.

Thankfully, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, the rest of the internet and the very helpful Mamamia Parents Facebook group are here to help with great ideas.

Like former Cosmopolitan Beauty Director and Cosmo Bride Editor, Alexis Teasdale, who has made a series of epic kids activity sheets you can download and print off for free from her Lady Startup website, The Festive Co. Not only do they look bloody cute, but they will keep kids entertained indoors and outdoors for hours.



Then, there’s the at-home school schedules that will give you a laugh. Mamamia’s Head of Content and podcast host Holly Wainwright posted her family’s first efforts of home schooling, dubbed ‘crap home school’, on Instagram.

holly schedule
Anyone else's at-home schedules look like this? Image: Instagram/Holly Wainwright.

Another mum shared her version on Facebook, which includes tasks like 'PE - run outside to put the rubbish and recycles out' and 'Science - how Fairy Liquid removes grease from pans'.

Comedian Dave Hughes also shared some of his family's education and fitness schedules, which have been drawn up by his eight-year-old daughter.


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8yo Sadie has already locked in her home schooling timetable. #lockdown

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8yo Sadie will have us prison fit real quick. #lockdown

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Now, onto 34 more ideas parents are using to keep their kids occupied at home. From at-home 'school schedules' and board games, to YouTube and play dough, these should get you started.

1. "In our house, it'll be all about Netflix, board games, reading, making the kids walk on the treadmill, watching old DVD’s and lots of popcorn!"

2. "Look through Pinterest for art, craft, science experiment and cooking ideas."

3. "Teach them the card games you grew up with back when kids were much more regularly bored."

4. "If you're short on time and still want to maintain some sort of fitness routine, you can get your kids to do your workout with you. Or pop on a YouTube yoga video for them to try."

5. "Try to set up a schedule of some kind. There are some online you could tweak or make your own one to suit your family. It could help to have it on a whiteboard so the kids (depending on how old they are) can take some responsibility and see what they'll be doing that day."


Here's a few we've found online, including a more realistic one from writer Laura Jackel.


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6. "Join your local toy library to take out some toys before the lock down starts."

7. "If they're old enough, let them make TikTok videos by learning all the different TikTok dances."

8. "I live in Hong Kong and we're doing this right now. My current plan is - each day, I have five things I 'need' my kid to do: make something (cooking/craft/puzzles), draw something, read a book, play outside (playground or in front of building with scooter) and do his reading program. We receive daily online learning tasks from his kindergarten which we complete too from my iPad. It’s tricky, and we do stretch out the TV time more than we used to, but this is helpful to give me a break."

10. "Open a beauty salon with face masks, massages, nail polish, etc."

11. "I'll be setting reading challenges with books from the library. I'll also buy some online if I can't get to a library."

12. "Look, screen time regulations will go out the window. I'll be signing up to all the different streaming services for kids' TV shows, movies and documentaries."

13. "Get your kids to make short films and/or dance routines. I remember spending hours and hours doing this as a kid."


14. "Listen to lots of podcasts and audio books."

Mamamia's That's Incredible podcast is great for entertaining kids, and you can do the activities afterwards too. Get it in your ears below. Post continues after audio.

15. "If it's safe and weather permits, send the kids outside to entertain themselves. You could also try a gardening project."

16. "I’m going to print heaps of worksheets out like crosswords, find-a-word and spot the difference."

17. "I bought flour and yeast in anticipation of spending lock down with my four hungry kids looking for fun. Food activity = winner. Then I’m planning on winning their pocket money back with poker."

18. "For me, routine works a treat, so I’d plan out our days with some outside play, then art/craft type activities, a movie after lunch and free play, dance party or dress ups in the afternoons."

19. "Involve them in as many cooking and cleaning activities as possible. My kids are toddlers, so this stuff is still fun for them."

20. "Here's some games I've come up with: bubble bath with a drop of food colouring, bubble bath where they can “wash” their plastic animals (extra points for being sanitary), musical statues, ring toss game and pin the tail on the donkey."

21. "Not sure if this is helpful, but we’re in lock down where I live... we’ve had breakfast, gone for a bike ride dressed as a bee, painted Easter eggs and made hand stamps. I’m shattered and it’s only 10:30am. Crying sounds like a relaxing option right now."

22. "I saw a father out with his daughters super early today playing at a park at 6:30am and I did wonder whether they are quarantined and trying to run off energy before people are out and about. Not a bad idea!"

23. "Follow Instagram accounts for inspiration of what the heck to do - @play_at_home_mummy and @busy toddler are good ones."


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24. "There are so many great YouTube videos for kids - some entertaining and some educational."

25. "Get them to clean the house top to bottom. There are also plenty of leaves to be raked up, kids."

26. "Fingers crossed, some schools may have online schooling facilities so they can keep up with their education."

27. "Stock up on all the craft supplies you can - feathers, cardboard, glue, play dough, textas. Everything."

28. "I’ve thought about this and the mornings will be dedicated to activities like planting seeds, free play, dance party in the kitchen, puzzle time, cubby house building, colouring, activity rotation, going to empty parks at early hours. Then, after lunch, I have no idea but there is definitely an hour of Disney Channel, Stan and Netflix in the middle of the day so I can hide."


29. "Make a cubby house or pillow fort out of sheets or couch cushions early in the day - that should provide a few hours of entertainment."

30. "Make a list of every single toy you have, then write each one on a piece of paper and do a 'toy of the day' lottery draw."

31. "Write a book together - they'll need to come up with a story, write it out and draw pictures to go along with it. An added bonus, you'll have something to keep to remember the lock down by."

32. "Do all the puzzles. Build all the Lego. Play all the board games."

33. "If they are old enough, get a big scoreboard and turn it into a day/week long competition with things like Uno, Mario Kart, board games and reading. Could even put chores on there too."

34. "Cry. My toddler has the attention span of a goldfish and the emotions of a 14-year-old girl. I love him, but I will legit cry."

In all seriousness, communicate with your employer about any plans in place to accommodate staff working from home with children, as this will only become more common in the coming weeks and months.

And finally, to all the parents out there. We see you. We are with you. Godspeed.

Feature image: Instagram - @alexisteasdale and @wainwrightholly.

Do you have any great ideas for how to keep kids entertained during COVID-19 self-isolation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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