Mamas, it’s coming. It’s so close that I can taste it. The beginning of the end of the pandemic is drawing near. Even my idol Dr Fauci says we will probably see a return to some semblance of normalcy during Summer 2021.
To say that I cannot wait for this to be a reality would be a huge understatement. But we’ve still got a bit more social distancing to go if we want this to actually happen. If you’re like me and ran out of fun stuff to do with your kids about a year ago, this post is for you. From
expensive to free, tons of planning required or none, teenagers or toddlers, here are my best ideas about how to stay busy with your kids for the next few months.
Did you know that a number of RI venues will let you rent their facility for just you and your family? It’s a little pricier than visiting pre-covid, so you could also split the rental with a friend and just mask/distance. Make sure to make reservations in advance at these locations. Here are some of my favorite options. Click on the links to learn more and reserve your own time there.
Trampolines galore for your little ones who have spent the whole winter being told not to jump on the couch.
Pick from a list of popular kids (or grown up!) movies for a private showing.
Children ages six and up can visit this hands-on STEAM museum. Your group will rotate around the museum, spending solo time at each of their three activity pods during your visit.
Another great place for school age kids, bring your crew to experience plenty of STEM fun as you have the run of the facility.
A big room of sensory tables for your little ones to explore and experience.
These three places have no affiliation with each other, but they all offer similar spaces for preschoolers to play with age appropriate materials and toys while you relax and watch them have fun. Think dramatic play materials, ride on toys, crafts, and more.
If It’s Free, It’s for Me
Looking to save a little cash while you keep the kids busy? Try these out.
Are you really a Rhode Islander if you don’t visit the beach in the off season? Sure you can’t swim, but pack a ball or a bucket for collecting shells, and let the kids go barefoot if it’s warm enough. Just remember it’s usually windier on the water, so bring extra layers for the littles (and you). To enhance the fun, check out Roger Wheeler Beach, which has a playground.
Beautify Your Neighborhood
Start a project to lift the spirits of your neighbors. A friend of mine put a bunch of rocks at the bottom of her driveway with instructions to paint them and return to make a neighborhood rock display. You could build a fairy garden and leave a sign inviting people to contribute. Or pot some flowers in individual cups and place them on peoples doorsteps with a request to plant them somewhere in their own garden. Spring + beauty + a feeling of community = something we could all use more of right now.
Clean Out For A Cause
Have you collected a ridiculous amount of toys in the last year in a feeble attempt to keep your kids busy? Are they taking over your playroom/living room/whole house? Do your kids act like they might die if you give any away? Create a little motivation by promising
them a bigger ticket item if they can sell some of their unused items. Maybe a trampoline, cool new pool float, or a family day trip to a fun location will push them to get stuff out of the house. Try using Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, or local consignment shops to
offload your stuff, then get excited for your new purchase. You could also go a more altruistic route and let the kids choose a charity they care about to donate the proceeds.
You’re not crazy, it’s actually a fact that having something to look forward to makes human beings happier. Since I’ve been looking forward to the end of the pandemic ever since it started, I really need to concentrate on something new. So maybe research how to build that tree house the kids have always asked for. Check out games or dishes for a Fourth of July cookout and test them out now. Watch some YouTube videos about a trip you would all like to take. It doesn’t have to be a tour of Europe, a weekend of camping will work just as well. In my experience, bonding over shared excitement is often even better than the experience itself.
Do Something Crazy
Say yes to something your kids will barely believe. Make a mud pit in the backyard and let them get as messy as they want, then dry off in the sun. Let everyone choose one topping from the grocery store, then have make-your-own ice cream sundaes for dinner. You know your kids best, so pick something that you know will make a great memory for them (and you) in the midst of this weird time.
Like Gina always said, ‘take it outside!’
This massive playground, with all sorts of play structures, will keep kids of all ages busy for hours.
Go check out the adorable fairy gardens snuggled into the rest of the botanical blooms. Private viewings are also available.
Take a short ride with your kids on this adorable miniature train outside of a quaint local artisan shop. It’s pretty quick, but try ice cream at Newport Creamery or penny candy at Brown and Hopkins Country Store afterwards.
Here’s a few very 2021 ways to get out of your house past dark and keep the kids entertained.
Walk through the zoo at night to see dozens of illuminated lanterns inspired by the natural world.
2. Southwick’s Zoo Drive Through – Mendon MA
Pretend your minivan is a safari vehicle, and see tons of animals up close as you wind through the same paths you’ve walked before.
A sure sign of summer coming, stuff yourself silly with treats from all your favorite local food trucks parked in one place.
One upside to 2021, the drive-in movie theater is open year round. Catch a family friendly double feature from the comfort of your car.
Learn Something New
If not now, when?
This website offers an endless amount of low cost virtual classes for kids of all ages. Choose from a huge variety of subjects, from STEM, to dance, to SAT prep. Many courses are live, some are pret-recorded. Instructors have diverse backgrounds and education and live all over the world (as do the students)!
This weekly virtual class for children eight and under focuses on a different skill each season. This spring the theme is empathy, so during class time children will participate in activities meant to enhance their ability to see things from the perspectives of others. A weekly class guide, including instructions for extra activities and prerecorded read aloud books is provided. Bonus: pricing is per family, not per child, so it’s a real bargain if you have more than one child participating.
3. Try out a subscription
There are a few huge (and pricey) names in kids subscription boxes right now. I’ve tried some and they live up to the hype, but you can get in on this trend with a much lower investment if you do a little digging! Just googling ‘kids subscription kits’ will give you a huge assortment of choices for all ages, from books to crafts to science experiments. My six year old son has loved his subscription to ‘Which Way USA?’ through Highlights. Every other week he gets a package in the mail focused on an individual state. There’s always a magazine with plenty of activities, a large fold out map, and a license plate for his Which Way USA lanyard. I’ve loved watching him get excited to learn about
something he was super interested in after all those months of forcing virtual school.
Many subscription services offer free cancellation at any time, or a small commitment (3 months or so) so you can try one out now and cancel when the world opens up a bit, if you’d like.
I hope you’ve found something in this list to keep you and your family busy and happy! If you’ve got ideas of your own for things to do with Rhode Island kids while social distancing, please share them below so I can add to my list.
By Laura Tancrelle