Out of ideas for your quarantined kids? Let me help.

Scott Agnoli

Scott Agnoli

Founder/CEO, Corporate Coach, Author, Speaker, Designer, Marketer

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In this week’s Good Reads Wednesday, I would like to discuss leadership. I have thought of leadership differently than some, as I have always found it to be about serving others. I have had my share of managers who were an example of a servant leader. I have also had my share of dictators, self-servants, and sadistic supervisors. But for today’s post, I want to discuss a different leader, not the leader at your work.

Your First Teacher:

When we enter this world, if we are so blessed, we have two parents. They are our first teachers, or for purposes of this article, our primary leaders. In my definition of a leader, a parent perfectly fits my criteria. A parent challenges their child to be a better version of themselves. A new parent has to be courageous enough to be innovative, creative, resourceful, and imaginative to challenge their child and be a good example. 

In times like the ones we are experiencing now, our children look to us for leadership. They look for us for ways to keep calm, how to be studious, and, most importantly, how to have fun. With this seemingly never-ending pandemic, most parents, like me, are coming to an end. We are at a loss for constructive ideas disguised as games to challenge the imaginations of our kids. 

Do Not Worry, This Will Help:

Nearly 45 years ago I walked into a grammar school and met my first “best friend.” We were school-mates since kindergarten, went to the same church, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout together in the same troop. We were fortunate to have diverse leaders who provided for us a wealth of experiential knowledge, teaching and leading us through doing, not saying. It is this friend, Jeff Petersen, who has exemplified leadership by authoring a fantastic list of things to do when you have run out of things to do. The greatest thing about Jeff’s list is that you can do every item with your child. What a great way to lead your child through example. He has made the list public to serve the greater good. Please feel free to share this list with everyone.

The List, by Jeff Petersen

Things to do with kids now that you’re homeschooling them based on the popularity of my summer homework list, I thought I’d do one for this, unprecedented situation. Feel free to share your own ideas. Most of this is free or cheap. 

1. Take a hike. Nothing beats a little fresh air. Photograph or draw 3 interesting things you saw.

2. Bake a cake/cupcakes/muffins. Guide them, but don’t do anything for them. Record results.

3. Build a clubhouse. Ok, full-on “Little Rascals” would be awesome, but cardboard or blanket and pillow fort would still be pretty cool. Make a flag or banner and defend it from all enemies. Bonus points for spending the night. Draw plans in your journal.

4. Play a board game together. Winner packs up the game and NO CRYING!

5. Take a nice long bike ride. There aren’t many cars on the road, so there’s never been a better time. Draw a map of the route. Bonus points if you make sandwiches and eat lunch “in the rough.” 

6. Play Jacks (the game with the bouncy ball) once a day. First, one that gets to “threesies” gets to pick the next movie you all watch.

7. Twice a day mandatory 5 minute dance parties.

8. Make a fancy meal together. Get dressed up, use good plates, and light some candles. Even if it’s just macaroni and cheese. Clean up together as well.

9. Have a catch. When was the last time you put on the baseball/softball glove and threw the ball around?

10. Learn 3 basic yo-yo tricks.

11. Make puppets from things you find around the house. Put on a show.

12. Read a book. This is a tough sell, I know, but maybe read out loud and take turns, passing the book around every few pages. 

13. Learn a card game together, then gamble for pennies or, better yet, household chores.

14. Play Speedminton (Crossminton I think in Europe). It’s like netless guerrilla badminton. Perfect outdoor game for social distancing.

15. Learn to juggle. Anyone can do it. Seriously.

16. Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith. This activity book is a lot of fun and a better art education than most kids get at school.

17. Make your own pizza. Enough said.

18. Put together a puzzle of at least 500 pieces. Work together.

19. Leave each other coded messages. Try Pig Pen cipher, although I’m fond of the Dancing Men code.

20. Create an original work of art with objects found around the house. There are no rules.

21. Throw a tea party. Boys can enjoy this too if you trick them into it. Enlist them to help put together a surprise for Mom. They can help assemble little cucumber sandwiches or some such. Make it a theme that will interest them like a superhero tea party or dinosaur tea party. We’ve had silly hat tea parties, and I think a monster tea party which was attended by the Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Take photos for future embarrassment when they date.

22. Secret mission. Make a meal for an elderly neighbor or grandparent(s). Divide it into single-serve portions and freeze. Deliver it in a clandestine manner, so as to avoid contact with a note, so they know who it’s from. Leave on their front steps or porch, ring the bell and run. Do not get caught! 

23. Solitaire. With cards not on a screen. This is great way to keep a kid quiet for a little while. Offer an incentive like a scoop of ice cream for each win, even if it’s in the morning. But remember: cheaters go to hell.

24. Tie-dye some shirts. I don’t know how to do this, but it seems like this is a good time to learn.

Keep a journal of all the things you do. Record your achievements and thoughts. Include lots of photos or drawings.

Final Thoughts:

We will come out of this mess, and everything will return to “normal” eventually, whatever “normal” means. I think what is most important for parents and leaders is that we use this time to challenge ourselves. This is an opportunity to start a new hobby, a new tradition, or a “family night,” which extends well past this pandemic. This list may contain things we have never done, let alone with our children. Let the journey be the destination. Lead your children through this list and make memories and provide experiences they will never forget. 

Thanks Jeff.

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