Weekend Guide Ideas for At-Home Fun for Hawai‘i Families From a Frazzled Mom
It may feel like a weekend to stay inside. Here are six ideas that kept my family entertained during days at home.
It’s a very Jaws movie poster moment: “Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water.” In our case, just when we were getting comfortable going out (as evidenced by the packed shopping center parking lots I’ve encountered recently) the state reports record counts of COVID-19 cases. It may be a good weekend to spend at home.
Make no mistake, my own brain screamed “Again?!” as I wrote that sentence above. My family was planning this and next weekend as our last toasts to a strange summer. We were planning car rides around the island, trips to get frozen treats and a myriad of other mini adventures, all completed with masks and bottles of sanitizer on hand.
Now, a mix of potential wind and rain as well as COVID-caution is making us rethink a bit. Every family is different. So, if you decide you’re ready for some low-risk activities outside, we have ideas in our weekly Weekend Guide. But if you are planning yet another weekend in, here are six fun things I’ve done with my 10- and 4-year-olds over the past four months. Some ideas are more work than others, but all provided hours of entertaining diversion for the kids and gave me new reasons to ignore the laundry, that cluttered storage room I’ve been meaning to clean for years, and all the other usual home distractions that I stare at all week.
Hold a Food Truck Rally
Our recent rounds of online ordering left us with a bunch of boxes. My girls’ favorite is a giant one that held a precious batch of toilet paper we ordered in the early COVID-19 days (remember those?) back in March. One night Cassera, my oldest, decided to turn them into food vendor stalls, mimicking our favorite food truck events back in the day. She made signs for each box, we served every course of dinner in separate dishes, then we all “shopped” from stall to stall, taking turns acting as vendors and customers. Add menus with prices and make change for an easy math refresher.
My girls also love playing restaurant on any day. Cassera found an audio clip of restaurant ambience on Spotify and plays that while we check in, get seated and order. My favorite made-up restaurant name so far has been “That Japanese Restaurant You Know.”
Plan a Premiere or Host a “Sit-In” Movie Night
Anyone been streaming lately? Anyone? Although those services have been getting a workout, sometimes it can be more fun waiting for real-time TV. My daughters love Bluey, an Australian cartoon about an ultra-imaginative heeler dog and her family, to the point that they’ve spoken with Aussie accents for hours. When season two debuted a few weeks ago, we attended a premiere night. I tasked my daughters to come up with ideas that included printing out and making Bluey and Bingo (the little sister) masks, adding dried blueberries and blue gummies to our popcorn, and making a blue drink as we dressed up in our best nightgown finery. Cassera set up movie theater seating—complete with side tables for snacks. The show was about 24 minutes. The anticipation and project work kept them busy for hours.
A few nights in April, we set up a projector and movie screen in our driveway facing the street. Then, we delivered invitations to our neighbors for a socially distant movie night. Everyone sat in their own driveways or on the sidewalks, even in the rain, while we played family movies. You can order Consolidated Theatre popcorn, which serves several dozen people, for that real film flavor.
Set Up a Tea Party
This was a desperation thought on a day when both girls were driving me crazy while I tried to work at home. Cookie cutters, bread, fancy plates and those cappuccino cups we haven’t touched since our post-Italy-honeymoon, pre-kid days turned leftovers into party fare. Both girls spent a blissful 30 minutes (i.e. not fighting) picking their own fancy outfits in their own rooms before we sat down, pinkies firmly in the air, for a weekday tea party. Mystery tea pots held chocolate milk and juice, also known as brown and pink tea. Everything was dahling, dahling. My good-natured middle-school nephews have joined us in the past, enjoying the silliness of odd hats and tiny Easy Bake oven desserts.
Have a Fort Night
Those online ordering boxes can also amp up living room forts. My girls are always thrilled when they can sleep anywhere but their own beds. (Just letting them swap rooms for a night elicited so much excitement, you would think we sent them to camp.) An old sheet, dining room chairs and clamps create the roof. The boxes are turned into rooms big enough for my 4-year-old to tuck into, bookshelves and apartments for prized stuffed animals and structure for fairy lights. Add lanterns and let them sleep there for two nights or as long as you can stand it.
Celebrate Christmas Early
Saturday is July 25. At my house this year, it will be Christmas in July. We plan to dust off those usually off-limits-during-the-summer decorations, pull out the Christmas movies and music and eat the menus usually planned for Dec. 25. Both of my daughters are excitedly cutting out paper snowflakes and Christmas trees. They’re just as excited about the prospect of a night in air conditioning, so we can drink the hot chocolate without sweating, as they are for the early celebration. For me, it’s a chance to use leftover Christmas favors and treats. There are also rumors the elves may make a cameo.
Go to Disneyland, Sort Of
This one ranks closer to the top of the “are you crazy” scale, at least according to several of my parent friends. One morning, the girls woke up to a surprise “trip” to Disneyland. It included a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (something this thrifty mom will NEVER let her kids do in real life) featuring costumes from a friend and unopened nail polish we received as a Christmas gift, pictures in front of my 4-year-old’s castle and TV-side seats in front of the newest parade and fireworks show. We played point-of-view videos of park rides on the TV while moving the girls around in cardboard box cars. A hose on the slide became Splash Mountain. The fact that it was raining made it even more fun. (You can find many park ride soundtracks on The Legacy Collection Disneyland album, available through most music services.)
At night, we all went to a Disney buffet. A Mickey-shaped cookie cutter transformed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and slices of melon. They loved eating still-frozen peas and corn from Olaf and tsum tsum-shaped corn dogs. Disney has posted recipes for park favorites including churros and recently shared a paper model kids can cut out and fold to create their own parade down Main Street. The memories were just as magical without the price of admission.