As family nostalgia reaches new heights, now is the time to reimagine playtime. And in the process, to reinvent the way we think of toys. This time last year, we were inundated with digital games and gadgets. Children’s play seemed as high tech as could be. Then Covid-19 happened. Suddenly everyone had to adopt new habits. We didn’t really have a choice. Wash hands, thoroughly and frequently. Carry sanitizer. Wear a mask. And above all, maintain social distance. To be safer still, stay within our family ‘bubble’ or go into isolation. Along the way, however, more positive changes occurred as families adjusted to this new reality.
Technology and the “New Normal”
We as parents have watched our children becoming ever more tech savvy in front of our eyes – seemingly younger and younger too! Many of us have noticed that even a two-year-old child can use an iPad to watch cartoons. Some parents have gone as far as trying to keep screens out of their kids’ lives for as long as possible. That’s because they don’t want the kids growing up thinking that having screens around is ‘normal’. These parents are very often reminded that nowadays, screens are normal. In fact, that might even be a good thing. In our social isolation we’ve increasingly yearned to reconnect with friends and family. Creating Zoom meetings makes that possible. Yet the ‘new normal’ doesn’t mean we can’t reconnect with our physical toys in an altogether more powerful way. Now that we have time to reimagine playtime.
Three Ways to Reimagine Playtime
During the pandemic many families are spending more time together than ever. This can be good if you go about it creatively. Many young families have been making the most of the extra time gained by not commuting. They take an evening walk together when school and office hours are over. Spending time outdoors is especially beneficial if you have been furloughed from work. It gets the kids out into the fresh air and keeps them physically active. They can bring toys like a ball, a skipping rope or a hula hoop. Use these toys not just for physical exercise, but as creative ways to reconnect too. When we’re all allowed back within a safe distance of each other – those toy routines may just become an even more important bonding experience for friends as well.
This time fighting Covid-19 has also helped kids to get familiar with making new things. Kids feel great when something they made or helped to make actually gets used, like a knitted craft or a simple loaf of homemade bread. Today’s situation has brought about the unheard-of-for-years phenomenon of clear skies. Many families have marveled at being able to view mountains, formerly hidden by smog, from their home for the first time ever. Many kids have developed a new-found fascination for exploring the night skies. If your child develops this interest, it’s worth investing in one of the best kids telescopes and exploring the skies together
Harness Technology for Virtual Playdates
Video calls on bigger screens like laptops can give kids the feeling of being connected to their friends and family. Reach out to the parents and schedule a video call or virtual playdate. Under parental supervision, kids under six (and over-sixes too) can chat with their friends and show each other the clever stuff they’ve made when doing crafts. They can tell each other funny stories about what happened in today’s walk. And the tasty chocolate cake they helped mummy or daddy make. The call can conclude after an agreed period of time, like twenty minutes. It will do the kids a lot of good. Socializing with their peers is important.
You can even organize a virtual movie night for them. They and their friends can watch the same movie at the same time at home and keep in touch with video calling during the movie interval or afterwards. Some streaming services have even added watch along features to make this easy. You can start and pause films to ensure you’re all watching at the same time. They can chat about the movie, the music, and anything else they want to.
There is no doubt that life has changed. Our day-to-day lives have been different during the last year. What we need not do is to panic. Just go with the changes and make the most of the opportunities to give your children positive, formative experiences. There are plenty of silver linings to be found in the current cloudy situation, if we’re ready to look for them. So take time to reimagine playtime and enjoy the new ways to play.
We thank Han-Son, the founder of DaddiLife, a platform and community of modern-day fatherhood in England, for sharing three ways that families can reimagine playtime during Covid pandemic.
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