Multigenerational families are facing special challenges while sheltering at home. Those with vulnerable elders in the house must be especially vigilant about social distancing and hand washing. Whether you are living together under one roof or scattered across the country, there are family activities you can do while social distancing.
Health professionals emphasize finding ways to move even when sheltering at home. Host a virtual family dance party. Connect far-flung grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles and let everyone choose a tune or two in advance. The family’s most tech-savvy member can serve as DJ and create a playlist using everyone’s suggestions—even the ironic or ear-shattering selections from sullen teenage members of the clan. Just don’t play those tracks before Grandma rocks on to her Rolling Stones.
Social distancing gets a little dicey when families venture outside. It is critically important that only those family members who already live in the same home go outside together: otherwise, a safe walk is a solo, socially distanced walk. Family groups should be careful to maintain at least a six-foot separation from non-housemates, including cousins who live across the street. Parents must keep a tight rein on little ones, and playgrounds are off-limits. Look for uncrowded, natural spaces that offer the possibility of enjoying fresh air, native plants, and wildlife. Make it engaging by creating a shared birdwatching list that family members from across the country can add to, listing birds they’ve spotted so far in their neck of the woods.
If parks are too crowded or taking elders out is too great a risk, there’s always the backyard or the driveway (as long as it isn’t a shared driveway with the house next door). Kick or toss a ball around or dig out the sidewalk chalk and play hopscotch with the kids while grandparents “supervise” from a lawn chair.
Puzzles, Games, and Virtual Tours
Some book and toy stores are selling out of jigsaw puzzles, but there are probably a couple of puzzles gathering dust in that closet in the basement. Board games you may have forgotten about in the bustle of work, youth sports, and music lessons are also waiting patiently there for you to rediscover them. Game nights are a classic family activity you can do while social distancing.
If your game cupboard is bare, there are plenty of online options. One of the most delightful is the virtual tour so many world-class museums offer. Zoos may already have had operational webcams allowing a peek at the daily life of their animal residents.
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Conduct Interviews with Elders
Sheltering place is a great opportunity to share some family history. Involve younger generations with seniors by turning them into documentarians. If they’re not quite sure where to start, look online for books that provide prompts for elders to share some part of their own or family history. Senior perspectives on how families have come through hard times together in the past provide inspiration now as the weeks of staying at home together continue.
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