5 Creative Ways to Beat the Boredom, Maintain Social Distancing, and Cut Screen Time - Sustainably

5 Creative Ways to Beat the Boredom, Maintain Social Distancing, and Cut Screen Time - Sustainably

If you’re like me, you’re noticing your friends’ kids’ schools closing across the country. I think it’s a matter of time before they close Hawaii public schools, so I’ve been mentally creating lists of things to do to keep my kids active, engaged, and above all, healthy.


We try to limit screen time in our house, though it would be easy during a pandemic to allow for mass quantities of digital entertainment. But in an attempt to keep them moving, happy, and not feeling like prisoners, I’ve come up with a list of options to keep COVID—19 blues at bay.



This is easy for us to do in the land of a thousand hikes here in Hawaii – but, mainlanders, stay with me. In Germany, it’s typical for people to go out and walk in all kinds of conditions and weather. Take the same approach and attitude – yes, it’s that weird time of year where it’s sunny and 75 degrees one day, then sleeting the next, but with the right attitude – and the right gear – any day is a good day for a hike. And who says hikes have to be far away? Check out hikingproject.com for the closest hikes near you, ranked for difficulty. Make it more sustainable by walking or biking there if you can!


Write Letters to Congress

Is there anything more powerful than the perspective of a child? Take a few minutes of your time at home and learn a bit about how our government works – and that constituents matter! Learn who your representative is by entering your zip code here, and help your kids write a letter about an issue that matters to them. What’s more powerful than the words of our kids to the ears of our legislators?


Native Plant Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

What do you know about native plants in your area? Sound boring? Did you know that native plants can help create sustainable environments, promote pollination and improve our soils? Take a few minutes and write up clues on a chalk board, dry erase board, or scrap paper to get your kids searching for native plants. You can learn about your local flora here, and make it more interesting by adding in native birds. Cruise the neighborhood on foot to make this a completely sustainable outing, and slow enough to savor the fresh air.


Find Water

Studies show that large bodies of water area calming to the mind and soothing to the body. If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean, get there! Surf, swim, walk the shore, get the kids to dig, hunt crabs, count seashells, pick up micro-plastics (someday that won’t be an option but we’re still working on it!).

If you’re not near the ocean, find a lake, stream, pond – anything will do! Bring magnifying glasses, binoculars, a sketch pad (and snacks – always snacks!). My kids love to “discover” the creepy crawlies near ponds, streams, and even at the tidepools. What can they discover when they’re ready for anything?


Social Networking Scavenger Hunt

Our kids are going to be super bummed if/when their school closes and we keep them from their friends. But they can still play – virtually – with their friends as long as we’re creative…


Create a scavenger hunt for your kids and their friends that they can complete without each other. Keep track of the points and do daily (or hourly) check ins, depending on how long you want it to last. Make the objects as random as possible to extend the life of this game.


Create a list of items and assign points, then send to your kids’ friends’ families to participate. Give yourselves a start and end for the scavenger hunt – one day, 3 days, a week, etc. Establish when everyone will send in their updates and see who can get to 50 points (or 100 points, or 300 points – how many weeks are they off school, again?!) first! Keep track however it works best for your group – google docs, group texts, emails, whatever!


Sample List:


White dog on a pink leash – 50 points

Skateboarder with helmet and wrist guards – 20 points

Pizza delivery car – 10 points

Bird with a worm in its mouth – 40 points

Black bird – 10 points

A gecko – 10 points (in Hawaii), 100 points (on the mainland)