By Daniel Sherman of Dad Solo

Are you trying to come up with safe options for enjoying school breaks during the pandemic? There are plenty of fun options for activities that the whole family can enjoy, while also adhering to public health recommendations. How your family decides to spend your free time together this year may depend heavily on your individual circumstances, including personal health considerations, and where you are located. If you are careful and plan well, you may be able to make day trips or vacations during your family time. But other families may not feel comfortable doing that, just yet. Here are some ideas to inspire you and your family while you’re planning how best to enjoy your time together.

Indoor activities to stay occupied.

If the weather is bad and you can’t get outdoors, or if you don’t feel safe traveling from home much, you need to find ways to fill the hours indoors. Even families that get along well, in general, can get a tad scrappy when everyone is stuck in the same place indefinitely, so keeping everyone happy and engaged is especially important. Talk to your family members about organizing a game night, with age-specific options for different family members. Or plan family movie nights with themed meals to match the entertainment. If you’re all feeling stir-crazy being indoors, think up some fun ways to stay active, such as working out together, dressing up for a decade-inspired dance party, or taking an online martial arts class (just be careful to follow the safety rules so no one gets hurt!).

Get active in the backyard.

When the weather permits, and if you have access to a yard, park, or rural area, getting out in nature and moving around as much as possible can be great for your family’s collective physical and mental well-being. Some fun lawn games that don’t require a huge area, and which everyone can participate in include badminton, bean-bag toss, and bocce ball. If you have a little more space, divide into teams and play some soccer or softball. If you have access to a flat paved driveway or parking area, you could invest in roller skates for the whole family – though it’s important to be safe and protect heads and knees, especially of younger children or those who haven’t skated before.

Another safety issue to keep in mind, if you have small children or pets, is keeping them from running away or getting into roads. If your lawn is too open and exposed, and you anticipate spending a lot of time playing on it, investigate the costs and options for having fencing put in around at least part of it. Find a good fence installation company in your area by reading online reviews on Angi and comparing rates for different types of fencing.

Explore nature near your home.

Even if you reside in an urban or suburban area, you can probably locate plenty of fun parks and hiking areas near your home. Get your family invested in spending time outdoors by planning scavenger hunts where you have to find designated natural objects. You could also start birdwatching, and see how many different birds you spy, or hear, on your nature walks. Remember, when you do get out into the great outdoors, to be respectful of nature: don’t litter, don’t be aggressive or overly friendly with wild animals, and don’t disrupt natural habitats.

If you want to get involved in a project together.

Family time together could be a great opportunity to put some teamwork into any projects you’ve talked about starting, such as putting in a vegetable garden, building a treehouse, or doing a home renovation. If your family isn’t up for strenuous physical work, you could also pursue a shared educational project, such as learning a new language – or an artistic project, like a family scrapbook or quilt. If teens or young adults in your family need extra support with their education, this could be a great time to help them out. You could also call on Alliance Tutors and ask about their specialized services.

If you want to meet up with friends.

If you and your family are all vaccinated and in good health, you may decide to meet up with friends or extended family who are also taking precautions. Just be sure to check area news for any changes in pandemic numbers, guidelines for travel safety, and recommendations for social get-togethers. It’s important that everyone who is meeting up trusts one another to be open and honest and to communicate promptly if anyone is concerned about possible COVID exposure.

How to plan a pandemic-safe vacation.

You may decide to spend some of your break time going on vacation. Especially with the stress of the past year, a getaway might be an excellent opportunity to destress and decompress. Just be sure to do so safely. Some family resorts are going above and beyond to make sure they are providing safe and fun experiences for vacationers. You could also consider a trip to a national park, a quiet beach cottage, or a peaceful mountain cabin, to enjoy a luxurious getaway that won’t mean dealing with crowds of people. While plane travel may be a safe option for some, consider plotting vacations that can be reached via automobile, for increased safety.

Some day trip suggestions.

Even if you’re not up for a full-on vacation yet, consider making a few daycations to attractions or destinations near your locale. If the weather is nice, you could visit a zoo or a waterpark. Or look for museums, exhibits, or science centers that practice crowd limitation and are mindful and cautious about hygiene and public health. Find out whether there are any historical sites near you where you could take a tour and learn more about the region you live in. Or do some research and find out what the most beautiful nature sites are near you, for visiting by car, hiking, or picnicking.

Spending time together as a family is as important as it ever was, so even if you can’t do the activities you used to enjoy, try to find ways to make the most of your time together. Get creative with the options available to you and you may even build new memories while strengthening your family bonds.

About the Author: Daniel Sherwin considers raising his 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son both an adventure and a blessing. He created to provide other single dads/parents with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey to parenthood.