The kids love it. It's like summer break arriving three months early. No school, no teachers, waking up whenever, no real accountabilities other than keeping your room clean, ...and no fear of the invisible. Reflecting, I would have been stoked as well. What more could a kid ask for?
The coronavirus shutdown. Euphoric for the youth...panic for adults.
For us adults, life has come to a halt, at least the one we've known for the better part of our time on earth. Businesses have closed, jobs have been lost ... oh, and now you've been told schools are canceled, stay at home, and hang tight until further notice. Welp, there goes that. With a loud THUD.
It's heavy. I stare at the kids. My mind goes not only to my kids, who are luckily on the younger side of the youth age spectrum. To the millions who just had their world ripped away from them to be stranded at home staring at their parents? Oh. Boy.
"AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ALL THAT DOWNTIME WITH THE KIDDOS? DISNEY'S CLOSED, FORGET SHOPPING IN AN ACTUAL STORE, YOU CAN'T FLY ANYWHERE COOL, IT'S LIKE GROUNDHOG DAY... NOT THE DAY, THE MOVIE."
I'm making it sound terrible only because I want to talk about the silver lining. Parents now have more time to spend with their kids. And for the most part, the external pressures of time management have evaporated. Picking only five minutes out of the day to toss the ball with little Billy became a thing of the past. He's got a full-time quarterback.
And what are you going to do with all that downtime with the kiddos? Disney, the movie theaters, the mall, even some states the parks are closed. Forget shopping in an actual store, you can't fly anywhere cool, it's like Groundhog Day ...the movie, not the day. You and your kids, with nothing left to do except what the government considers "essential" activities. Which, in a nutshell, is outdoor recreation while observing social distancing (and I can't wait to never hear that term again).
"STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING IS AN ENJOYABLE ACTIVITY FOR THE KIDS AND THE WHOLE FAMILY IN GENERAL. STAND-UP PADDLING IS EASY; EVERYONE CAN DO IT."
For my crew, we've been forced to rip them away from the tablets and TVs and redirect them to the things we used to do as kids. Chase frogs, ride bikes, fish, break some stuff...okay okay, not that. In all seriousness, here's a brief list of things I would suggest in the downtime. While everything may not be accessible or available for all, it's a start. Even if you can find relevance in a specific activity ... it's better than nothing. And I'll finish it with an activity EVERY kid should do at some point in their lives.
Teach them to stand-up paddle board.
Stand-up paddleboarding is an enjoyable activity for the kids and the whole family in general. Using a stand-up paddle board is easy; everyone can do it. There's this misconception that paddleboarding is difficult. That couldn't be further from the truth. If you can stand on two legs (or even sit on your butt), then you can stand-up paddle board (SUP).
Kids are great at SUP because of their low center of gravity and their agility. You ever watch a kid jump around on a playground? There are certain paddle boards made for kids, but they can use standard size boards if that's all you have available.
But don't let them leave you behind. Stand-up paddle boarding is even more enjoyable as a group. It also allows the parents to be a better coach for the kids who are learning to paddleboard. Check out our Tips and tricks for learning to paddle.
"I USED TO NOT LIKE KAYAKING VERY MUCH, MAINLY BECAUSE THEY WERE SO HEAVY AND CUMBERSOME TO USE."
Let them try kayaking.
I used not to like kayaking very much, mainly because they were so heavy and cumbersome to use. Quick BOTE product pitch coming in 3,2,1 ... BUT, since I have been using our BOTE DEUS and BOTE LONO inflatable kayaks, my mind has been changed. Why? Mainly because they are WAY lighter than standard kayaks AND very simple to use. Our inflatable kayaks are the best! Like nothing else on the water. No rubber ducky inflatable here.
Back to the kids ... These inflatable kayaks are an excellent product for them. They are light, durable, and (another thing that's not as important for adults). They don't hurt your head when your brother or sister pushes you down in them.
What's cool is that one kid can take the paddling position in the inflatable kayak, and the other can sit up front like they're riding in style. My kids can seriously use these kayaks all day. They will park them out in the middle of the pond, use them as their swim platform, and wear themselves out.
These inflatable kayaks are built for the weights and capacities of adults. Feel free to grab one and head out with them. And if you're looking for some pointers on how to kayak, check out this link here.
Show them how to fish.
Fishing doesn't have to be fancy. I know, I know, we as a culture have done a fantastic job of bringing "hi-tech" to fishing. Just check out the latest fishing show on the local sports channel - it's gear overload.
For kids …and even for me, it can be as simple as a cane pole, hook, bobber, and cricket. Or as I call it, the 'Bream Buster' rig! It's cheap and affordable and makes catching fish simple. And there's nothing better than baiting up a hook with a cricket (or worm) for your little ones to throw it in the water and have them waiting on a bite. Spring is an excellent time of year to hit up a small pond in the early day or late afternoon and have the kids slay the panfish.
"SPRING IS AN EXCELLENT TIME OF YEAR TO HIT UP A SMALL POND IN THE EARLY DAY OR LATE AFTERNOON AND HAVE THE KIDS SLAY THE PANFISH."
"SWIMMING IS AN EXCELLENT FORM OF EXERCISE AND ALSO PROVIDES A GREAT CONNECTION TO THE WATER."
Teach them to swim.
Swimming is critical for water safety. It goes without saying that if you are around water, having kids that can swim is your best safety net. Life jackets are essential for younger kids, but even they can provide a false sense of security. A kid may jump in forgetting the life jacket, or fall in accidentally. Teaching them to swim NOW may save their lives later.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and also provides a great connection to the water. Learning to 'read' water, especially in open water situations, will help you become a better swimmer and better stand-up paddle board user.
Paddling and swimming may sometimes go hand in hand. Spend as much of your free time now teaching your kids to swim while also allowing them to stand-up paddle board. Always have the kids wear life jackets when appropriate regardless of how proficient they are at swimming. They can always remove them if they decide to swim, but you'll never regret having the life jacket on and secure in the event of an emergency. Safety is always first.
Make them mow the lawn.
Seriously. Every kid needs to mow the lawn. I mean, isn't that why we had kids in the first place?
Thinking about it altogether, there sure is a lot of downtime right now. Let's make sure to use it well. Make memories. Build new skills. Try new things with your family. But above all, enjoy it. They say the days are long but the years are short. Whoever they are, they are right.