Help is at hand to get you through your quarantine.
Empty airports and extra seats on planes are definitely perks of travel at the moment (if you can travel at all), but the impending quarantine with kids on landing may be a less than joyous thought. While most might be staying put this year, some will brave the journey to see family and friends – and no doubt the thought of keeping the kids entertained while cooped up indoors during the quarantine time might seem a little daunting! But have no fear. A mama who went through (home) quarantine with her little one tells of her experience with a few tips and tricks to keep the kids (and you!) sane.
Quarantine With Kids: Arriving In Hong Kong
During a recent trip, my 3-year-old son and I got stuck in Thailand during the lockdown and we had to enlist the help of the British Consulate to get us out of Phuket in the early hours of the morning. Taking all the necessary precautions (hand washing and sanitising, wearing masks, doing the compulsory temperature checks etc.), our adventure began as we took a rare plane back to Hong Kong.
The thought of being reunited with my husband was at the forefront of my mind, but the first hurdle was getting through the testing centre at Hong Kong airport (here are the full Quarantine Procedures for entry via Airport). We were lucky that our flight got in late, and so once our COVID-19 tests were done, we could sleep while waiting for our results at the appointed hotel, rather than trying to while away 10 hours sat in the Expo centre. So here’s a recommendation for those coming back to Hong Kong – consider opting for a late flight so the hotel absorbs most of the time while waiting for the test results in a decent level of comfort!
Sassy Mama tip: For the testing and holding centre stay, take plenty of food, water and milk with you. What we were offered wasn’t overly toddler friendly and they won’t provide you with any milk. Oh, and definitely have a supply of teabags and coffee with you, too!
Once we got the all-clear and finally got to go home, we had the obligatory celebration and then hunkered down for two weeks of potential boredom…
Sassy Mama tip: The latest rules in Hong Kong mean that if you are arriving from any country other than China (and when travel bubbles open up), you have to quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel. Since you will have your hotel booked prior to landing here, have friends or family drop off all essentials in advance. Some hotels will even allow you to get daily deliveries, provided it’s a contactless drop-off (check rules while booking).
Tips For Keeping Kids Entertained During Quarantine
Family Quarantine Games And Activities
To pass the time and stave off the boredom I had to get very imaginative. Firstly, I turned to some great Instagram accounts that have easy to make games and activities for kids, my personal favourites being @fiveminutemum and @Thedadlab.
Daisy Upton at the Five Minute Mum offers a huge amount of ideas to keep kids around the ages of 1 to 5 years old entertained when at home all day (older children will find these ideas fun as well). It’s a well-known fact that kids tend to prefer playing with a cardboard box – sometimes more than the original contents! So if you’re looking to encourage creativity, try her 10 things to do with a cardboard box tips. A schedule to keep your day in check and youngsters focused is also a great plan of action. There are also ideas that can be adapted to older kids as well, like the spider’s web number game.
Kids Quarantine Arts And Crafts
We made sure that there was a good selection of paint and other arts and crafts supplies in the house (remember to have this in your list of essentials for the hotel), so that we could make whatever popped into my son’s imagination that day (mostly space rockets and dinosaurs!).
Luckily, we had some supplies already, but my husband also did a big Ikea haul of paints, massive roles of paper and pens, etc. We ordered paints, Play-Doh and other craft supplies to be delivered from Toys R Us and Amazon. An added bonus – and something that has been amazing through these many months of kindergarten closures – has been our monthly Kiwi Crate subscription. It had been building up whilst we were away so there was plenty of crafts and creative play waiting for us on our return.
Alongside drawing and painting, one of our favourite crafts was making paper mache volcanoes. This easy science experiment allowed us to introduce the wonders of vinegar and baking soda eruptions, much to my son’s amazement! We actually made this up ourselves with what we had around the house (see below for our method), but you could also follow the instructions from Red Ted Art.
How To Make A Paper Mache Volcano
All you need is:
- Water and flour for the paper mache paste (add extra water little by little if it’s too dry)
- Some old paper (like a newspaper) for the paper mache strips and volcano body
- An empty plastic bottle or toilet/kitchen roll tube
- A cardboard box or tray to contain the eruptions
- Baking soda
Use ripped up newspaper strips dipped in the paper mache paste. Drape these around the plastic bottle or the toilet/kitchen roll tubes to make the shape of a volcano. Be sure to leave the top of the tube/bottle open.
Once the paper mache is dry, have fun painting it (which will take up most of the time!).
When the paint is dry, make a “well” to put the baking soda in. To do this, cover the top of the volcano in cling film. Now push it into the open top end of the kitchen roll tube an inch or two. This creates a small crater or well. Secure the film around the volcano with an elastic band or hair tie.
Fill the well with two teaspoons of baking soda. Separately, fill a small cup with two tablespoons of vinegar. You can add a few drops of food colouring or paint for a splash of colour to the vinegar.
Finally, pour the vinegar over the baking soda in the well, stand back and watch the volcano erupt!
Another big hit was a treasure hunt. One day we were on the hunt for a stolen dinosaur egg, the next we’d try to find numbers around the house. Where possible, I tied it into his preschool syllabus (numbers, colours, new words, etc). Have fun creating your own clues dotted around the house, or take some inspiration from others, like this indoor treasure hunt for children from The Spruce.
I was really keen that we did exercise every day, which can be challenging in a small apartment. Unfortunately, he wasn’t interested in Joe Wicks on YouTube, so instead, we had dance parties, played musical statues or had five minutes of crazy jumping on the bed. I also discovered that if I was doing exercise he wanted to join in, so he’s now mastered a squat and lunge. Even post-quarantine, we still really enjoy a family exercise session together!
Family Quarantine Take-Aways
We were elated when quarantine was over; when the front door opened and we could finally go outside. My son was jumping up and down with excitement! We didn’t realise quite how much it had affected him.
If I had to do it again I would try harder to put a structure and routine into the day. I often hear the saying “kids crave routine”. This quarantine, and the recent closure of so many children’s facilities, have really shown the truth in this. I would definitely recommend having a daily schedule (which, yes, for us would include some screen time!) as a structure can give some form of normality and helps when planning activities for the weeks ahead.
For now, that’s behind us and ultimately, we made it through! And with some pretty cool arts and crafts to show for it.
Editor’s note: If you are returning to Hong Kong and need to self-quarantine in a hotel, take a look at the Hong Kong Government’s list of designated hotels and choose the best option for you.
For more information about returning to Hong Kong from overseas, check out The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Quarantine for Inbound Travellers – Frequently Asked Questions.