Quarantining with kids can be a challenge, however, with preparation the stay can be somewhat more pleasant.
Due to a surge in Covid-19 cases and new variants, effective June 27, 2021, Taiwan requires all travelers to quarantine in a hotel or government facility for two weeks. For the time being, quarantine at home is no longer allowed. This change has prompted much discussion, and some distress among Taiwanese and foreigners alike, most especially for parents who will be required to hotel quarantine with kids. To be sure, the situation is not ideal, but there are certainly ways to prepare for and strategies to help you and your kids cope with, and maybe even enjoy, at least parts of your quarantine stay.
First, make like a boy (or girl) scout, and be prepared to make your stay more comfortable. Think about things you may need that might not be provided by the hotel or facility, and bring those with you for your hotel quarantining with kids. Some suggestions include:
Mugs, plates, bowls, and cutlery: Choose lightweight, unbreakable materials like melamine or reusable plastic, but you might want to bring a proper mug or even wine glass if you enjoy those beverages.
A paring knife and small cutting board
Dish soap, a sponge, and a tea towel
Cleaning/disinfecting wipes Paper napkins, paper towel
Quick-Dry beach towels: Linen service may be limited, or only disposable “towels” may be provided, or, due to the humid climate, it may take regular towels a long time to dry.
You may also want to bring some laundry soap to wash out any soiled clothes in the sink.
Favorite toiletries like soap, shampoo, bubble bath, face masks
A basic First Aid Kit, plus any prescription medications you require
Favorite snacks and treats
A yoga mat and skipping rope
A Bluetooth speaker and a plug to share your screen so you can watch the same film
What to bring when Quarantining With Kids: For the kids, depending on what age they are, consider some of the following:
Crayons, dry erase or washable markers, pencils, colored pencils
Glue stick, and/or liquid glue
Scissors, a mini stapler, other craft tools
Paper, various sizes: lined, blank, construction, origami,
Post It notes, etc.
Yarn, cardboard, fuzzy sticks/pipe cleaners, a balloon or two, other craft supplies
Puzzles Board games, playing cards
Books, coloring books, sticker books, activity books
A soft foam ball, like a Nerf, glow sticks, or a flashlight
Probably the most important thing you can bring, however, is a positive attitude.
To make the experience as low stress as possible, it is important that everyone in the room is able to feel content. Aligning your expectations before going into quarantine can be very helpful. Acknowledge that it may be challenging at times, and let your kids (and yourself) feel that it will be okay to discuss, or vent when you are feeling frustrated. Talk about fun things or treats that you can look forward to. Make a schedule that includes work, school, exercise, family time, personal time, and 1:1 time so everyone can feel confident that there is time for all necessary activities. Download the Centers example of a schedule for when quarantining with kids. In this PDF you can find an example and ideas of how to make a schedule for your time in hotel quarantine.
Where to Do What
It can help kids and parents both to have designated areas in the hotel room for where to do what. Based on your schedule, and depending on what is required during your stay, consider setting up areas for being creative (some projects need to dry for a while), an area for academic work, an area for parent work. Or discuss ways to make areas do double duty. Aim for organized, yet flexible.
What to Do when quarantining with kids
Your family may have some “must do” requirements. If school is in session, there may be classes to virtually attend and assignments to complete. Parents may have job responsibilities. Or there may not be any requirements at all. To follow are some ideas for what to do with free time when quarantining with kids. And it may sometimes feel like SO. MUCH. FREE. TIME.
Play a Game
Use what you have brought with you and play cards – War, Go Fish, Old Maid, Rummy, Uno, Solitaire — whatever you prefer. Set up a board game. Do a puzzle. Or work with your kids to make Bingo cards and play Bingo. Lots of opportunities for short or long-lasting games.
Create a Read-Every-Day Bingo challenge
Each square is a different reading activity: read to a stuffed toy, read to a parent, read for half an hour without stopping, buddy system (your roommate reads a page and you read a page), read a book, and draw a scene from the book, read-back a book (parent or sibling reads a book to you and you read it back to them), make a reading nook and read for a certain time, read upside-down, read under the covers, read in the dark with a flashlight, read out loud in a silly voice, read out loud with a whispering voice, read in the bathtub (no water), read a magazine…. As your kids accomplish each reading task, they can cross off the square on their Bingo Card. Special treats as prizes for each line completed, and then the whole card.
Download the Centers’ Read-Every-Day Bingo challenge or a template to create your own Read-Every-Day Bingo challenge.
You can also play old favorites like Eye Spy, 20 Questions, Charades or the Getting Warmer Game (hide a small item and have the child look for it as you guide them with “getting warmer” or “getting colder”, or hide a few things and make it harder). Blindfold your child and have them try to guess what different objects are by touch only. Play Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman on paper, or use dry erase markers and write on the windows or bathroom mirror, just to change things up.
Use Post It notes to create a Countdown Calendar on a window or mirror, or even the wall. Each day you can X out or remove the Post It for a visual reminder that you are getting closer to finishing your stay.
Make a collage using pictures from magazines. Pick a theme and have your child find, cut, and stick the images. Show a holiday, make a moodboard of the day, or my dream outfit.
Do folded paper crafts — from origami to paper airplanes to fancy folded paper napkins or even the hotel towels. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube for inspiration.
Have younger kids practice cutting with scissors. They can follow a line, cut out a shape or cut simple snowflakes. Older kids can cut more complex snowflakes or other patterns.
Doodledraw – Draw a long line on a piece of paper and fill in the blanks with patterns, animals, items or whatever fits. To spend more time on it – color it in.
Draw on time – Draw the same thing and set three different time intervals (10 seconds, 1 minute, and 10 minutes).
Example: Draw a Flamingo:
First time interval you spend 10 seconds on drawing the flamingo.
Second interval on blank paper should be one minute.
Thirdly, draw a flamingo and spend 10 minutes on it. This time you have the time to color it in as well.
Make a Book – It can be a sticker book, a picture book, a diary of each day in quarantine, a wish book — anything goes.
Repurpose/Upcycle – Your hotel room and all the food deliveries will provide many disposable materials that can be reused to create crafts or toys. Think Forky from Toy Story 4. What can you and your child come up with using plastic knives and forks? Shower caps? The toilet roll?
Write a poem, or a rap – Record your child reciting/performing it and share with friends or relatives. What rhymes with quarantine?
Write a short story – Provide a theme, or a character name, or a situation, and let your child get creative. You can write what they dictate, if you need to, and have your child illustrate.
Write a letter – Go old school and use paper and a pen or pencil to write an update to send to someone special by mail when you are finished quarantine. If the hotel has postcards or stationary, you can use that.
Listen to a Podcast together and discuss what you learned.
Watch a movie and play critic. Write down your impressions.
Have a Spa Day (or hour) – Do a face mask, manicure, pedicure. Shampoo each other’s hair. Hand massage. Foot massage. Relax and enjoy!
Do Makeovers – Experiment with hair and make-up. Trade clothes and have a fashion show.
No question some parents will be looking at a 2-week long quarantine with distress at the thought of constant fights over screen time. Instead of making a decree about limiting it, try to create dedicated time slots for screen time. When the allotted time is finished your kids can put the screens away in a chosen spot, out of sight, and hopefully out of mind.
That said, if there was ever a time to loosen the restrictions, this is probably it otherwise quarantining with kids will evolve to a disaster. Sharing what you watch can feel more productive and is certainly more interactive. There are also ways you can creatively use screens together, where the screen is the guide or the inspiration and not the whole activity.
Consider game APPs like MadLibs or YakLibs, which are paperless versions of the classic passtime. Kids HeadsUp, Charades Kids, Guess Up, Pictionary and other APPs provide the board game experience without the board game. You can also look into multiplayer online games like those available on Jackbox.
Online exercise videos or yoga classes are fun ways to stay active together or separately.
Mindfulness APPs can help with mood and sleep, for parents and children alike. Jet lag and your close quarters can be a strain on even the most loving relationships. Having a soothing, neutral voice to guide you to a more relaxed state or help you drift off to sleep can help you all disconnect and refresh.
Work together and film a Tik Tok. There is lots of inspiration to be had. Dance, do a challenge, make a statement, do a tutorial, make a quarantining with kids diary.
Video call family members and friends. Have a chat, or create a virtual dinner table and talk while you eat a meal. Sharing your experiences and having input from others you care about and who care about you, even, or maybe especially, if they are quarantining in another room at the same time, is a valuable exercise. It can give you a break, give your child another person to talk to, and remind you that things will become more normal in a few days.
Use your phone’s camera to create a stop-motion video. You can help your younger child, or guide older kids to make the film on their own, either using your phone or a dedicated APP. Stop-motion is a filmmaking technique that is used to bring inanimate objects like toys (Lego mini-figs are great, poseable dolls work well) to life using a series of still photographs. A short 15-30 second video can be made in about an hour following these basic steps:
- Come up with the story or action you want to film, and gather up all the things you need.
- Create your scene by arranging all the characters, or objects where you’d like them.
- Take a photo using your phone. A tripod or other stabilizing object can be helpful.
- Make a small change to the scene – an arm is raised, an object appears, etc.
- Take another photo.
- Repeat until your tale is told.
- String your photos together into a movie using the functions on your phone or an APP.
Dream up a crazy product and make a funny commercial for it. You can utilize some of your craft projects, or things you have around the room that you make new labels for, or an exercise routine, or whatever else you can think of. Commercials are usually 15 to 30 seconds and can involve just one of you, with the other on the camera, or prop up your phone and involve everyone.
Change Things Up
A schedule and routine can lend direction and purpose to your time in quarantine, but the repetitive nature of your day-to-day experience can benefit from a little shake-up from time to time.
If you notice your kids are feeling down, acting up, or you personally feel like you need to let off some steam, drop everything, put on some music, and have a Two Minute Dance Party (2MDP). One favorite song, played loud on a speaker, or each person can choose their own and listen with earbuds or headphones while you dance. Dance around the room, or dance in place, get up on a chair, or dance in your chair, you can even dance on the bed. Sing along, too. Dance and sing like nobody watching you quarantining with kids. It’s a great way to release tension and improve your mood. After the first one, let your child have an “allowance” of 2MDP, so they can choose to have a break as required, but within limits.
Declare one day Pajama Day and don’t bother getting dressed. Take it easy, treat yourself to a “day off” and watch movies, or work on some of the Read-Every-Day-Bingo challenges.
Have an indoor picnic by eating a meal on the floor. Spread out a towel or extra blanket, grab your food, and enjoy — with no ants! No picnic without games. After your meal play some modified picnic games. Toss or roll the foam ball, or use a clean garbage can as a basket and practice your aim. Blow up a balloon and see how long you can keep it up in the air as you pass it between you. Play a memory game where one person collects ten items and places them on the picnic blanket. Take 10 seconds to try and memorize all 10 items, and then cover them up with a pillowcase or towel. Then write down or list off what you can remember. Whoever remembers the most is the winner.
Make a blanket fort together and let each person have some alone time inside. Kids can play with toys, read, have some screen time, or even nap. Parents might like a little quiet time in the fort as well, to listen to music or a podcast, or just relax.
Order in from a favorite restaurant. Meal delivery services like UberEats and FoodPanda are great, but you can often skip the middleman and order directly from your local favorite restaurants. You could set up the eating area for “fine dining”, or use your food at your indoor picnic. Or try speaking a foreign language as you dine. It can be one you are studying or a made-up one like pig latin.
Arrange a special delivery. When quarantining with kids you may be able to ask a friend or neighbor to request a special delivery. It can be food, or a toy or any other thing to brighten your day. If someone has a key to your house, maybe they could bring a favorite item you miss from home like a blanket or pillow, or even a knitting or other craft project to keep you busy.
Chances are that your quarantining with kids experience will end up being better, or at least less bad than you anticipate. Staying positive and prioritizing wellbeing for yourself and your children are two solid ways of managing the situation in general. Children follow the lead of their parents in how they deal with issues and regulate their emotions, so by trying to keep an even keel and making the best of what you have, you are helping them cope as well. That said, it is very healthy to acknowledge all of the feelings, good and bad, yours and theirs. Talk about what is working, talk about what is not, talk about what you look forward to and what you miss, but always remember that the experience is finite, it will end. And on days where you feel particularly challenged, keep in mind this excellent motto “If it’s not a good time, then it’s a good story”.
If, however, your feelings of frustration, anxiety or other mental health symptoms begin to feel overwhelming, it is perfectly okay, and actually, the right thing, to ask for help. Turning to trusted friends and family is a great first step, but virtual counseling sessions or even a crisis line call are always options if you feel like things are becoming unmanageable.
We all struggle at some point in our lives with mental health, be it difficulty coping with things that seem like they should be easy, but somehow are not, a major life transition like moving to a new country, divorce, or a death in the family. Even though we love our kids dearly then quarantine in itself can be a challenge as you have to resist a habit like going outside, therefore quarantining with kids can be even harder. Self-care strategies can often help, but if you feel overwhelmed, reach out for support.
One option is to call the counselors at the Community Services Center at (02) 2836-8134 or email email@example.com
In case of an after-hours crisis, please call the Community Services Center After Hours Line (5:00 pm – 9:00 am) 0932-594-578
Stay updated via Taiwan Centers For Disease Control