A happy family working together in the kitchen strengthening their bonds.

Instead of weekend getaways or overseas holidays, create unforgettable moments together as a family right at home. You can make your staycation one that boosts the entire family's wellness, too.

Get your cameras ready! It's time to be snap happy as you, your spouse and children go on tours, scavenger hunts, picnics and more. With imagination, an adventurous spirit, and positivity, you and your family can be in a holiday mood at home.

Here are 9 ways to bond with your children as you enjoy a healthy staycay at home.

Perfect for Mornings

#1 Listen and Sing Along to Favourite Songs

What's a staycay or getaway without the sound of music? Music improves mood and reduces tension. Play some tunes and sing along early in the morning to get everyone into a holiday mood.[1] Music and singing has a way of making us feel light-hearted and it boosts our mood.[2][3]

Get creative, compose lyrics together with your child. If you feel up to the challenge, make up lyrics with one that encourages him to stay well and healthy. Need a bit of inspiration? Check out the "Washy Washy Clean" song which teaches little ones to wash their hands to the tune of “If you're happy and you know it”. Or if you have an older kid, try rapping along with our very own Phua Chu Kang as he calls for “Singapore Be Steady!”.

#2 Hunt Like Scavengers

A scavenger hunt at home will get everyone moving and pump up the energy level. Activity is good for the young and the young at heart!

Here's how to get one going: Come up with a list of things to “hunt”. You can hide some or all of these things. Write clues for each of them. Give your children the clues one by one. Compete to see who finds the most. Give prizes to everyone for participating.

Tune up your scavenger hunt by having your children do special activities to earn the next clue! For example, they (or the whole family!) could complete 10 jumping jacks or dance to a song – everyone is bound to work up a sweat!

To be in good shape, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity a week. Children 7 to 18 years old should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity in a day. For kids below seven years old, aim for 180 minutes of active play every day.

#3 Go on a Virtual Tour Together

There are over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world offering virtual tours of their spaces. Pick one, two or ten to visit as a family. Exhibitions are a great way to bring a bit of culture and valuable learning experiences to our lives.[4][5]

The Singapore Philatelic Museum has virtual tours of past exhibitions including one based on the best-selling fable “The Little Prince” and another for DC Super Heroes fans titled “The League Against Evil”.

Want to learn more about our Heritage? Roots.sg by The National Heritage Board has curated a series of experiences and videos on heritage tours, historic sites and our national collection and monuments.

How about visual art experiences that you can explore from the comforts of your home? From the National Gallery Singapore’s various collections to the Singapore Biennale, there will be something for everyone.

As you go through the exhibits, share what you see and what you're curious about. Bond while broadening your children's horizons and fueling their creativity.[6]

#4 Have a Family Cookout and Make Lunch

All that singing, touring and physical activity will get tummies rumbling! A delicious, healthy meal before the afternoon activities will refuel bodies and also spirits. Get into the kitchen and cook a balanced and nutritious meal together.

What's a balanced and nutritious meal?

  • A meal that's “Quarter, Quarter, Half”

    Quarter plate of wholegrains, quarter plate of proteins and half the plate filled with vegetables and fruits. Whether it's a one-pot wonder like pasta or a kid-friendly favourite like pizza, just follow the “Quarter, Quarter, Half” proportions and you'll end up with My Healthy Plate.

    Looking for some recipes that are already perfectly proportioned? Beef and Brown Rice, Nonya Curry Infused Patties, Sayur Lodeh and Spinach and Cheese Quiche are just some of the many available on our website.

  • A meal prepared with healthier ingredients

    Any dish is only as good as its ingredients. To whip up a healthier meal, you'll need healthier ingredients.

    Sauces and seasoning contain sodium and sugar. Use less! Instead, spice up your dishes with herbs and spices. Give these 5 herbs and spices a try.

    You could also look out for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) and pick out products with healthier oils, lower in sodium and lower in sugar. If your children are old enough, rope them in and get them to point out these products!

  • A meal that's cooked in a healthier way

    Experiment with a variety of cooking methods, such as baking, grilling, stewing and steaming and discover how these different methods can bring out a myriad of textures and the best taste in your ingredients.

Cooking together is one of the many ways to form happy and lasting relationships with your children. Get your children to pitch in according to their age or ability. A younger child can stir in chopped ingredients while an older child can help add herbs and spices for you when cooking for the family meal. When your children are cooking with you, they're not just doing chores. They're building up their confidence by learning to follow instructions, doing things in sequence and seeing the results of their efforts.

At the end of the cooking, when everyone is enjoying the meal, your children will also feel proud to have contributed to something for the entire family.

Perfect for Afternoons

#5 Get Artsy and Crafty Together

Organise an arts and crafts session for the family. Creating art stimulates all our senses and improves our brain functions. Art can be a mindful activity which makes it a great stress-buster!

Do art you love or try something new. As a family, make a list of all the things you haven't done. It could be origami, decorating cakes or making car models.

With the internet, you'll never run out of new things to do. Make sock puppets, stained glass made out of pasta or a batch of slime! And if you're in the mood to mix nostalgia with craft, try making rainbow soap – it looks a lot like lapis sagu. Just don't eat it!

Take lots of photos of the time you've spent creating art together. Capture the best moments, the worst ones and all those in between. You can review these photographs with your children at the end of the day, to recount the wonderful bonding moments that you have spent together.

At all times, health and safety come first. Before you start on any of the crafts, check if they are suitable for your children's age.

#6 Game Like It's the 80s and 90s

Power up your time machine, mommies and daddies! It's time to take your children back to the 80s and 90s - the age before the mobile phone was the main source of entertainment.

Put away your devices and detox with old-fashioned, nerdy board games. Whatever the game, roll the dice and the fun begins. After a round or two, switch to card games, five stones or charades.

The 80s isn't quite complete without a game of hopscotch or zero point! Games like these were all the rage in the 80s. Clear out some space and show your children how to play these classics. Have fun together as a family while keeping in shape! To amp it up a notch, help them learn about healthy foods while they're playing - shout out a name of a fruit or vegetable with every hop!

#7 Picnic in Your Living Room

After a full day of activity, it's time for energy-boosting tea time! Bring the outdoors indoors with a picnic right in your living room. Throw a nice picnic blanket on the floor and get everyone into the kitchen to help prepare a few simple, healthy bites or snacks.

You might even want to consider having your little adventurers explore the world of flavours and textures with fruit platters, yogurt with fruit, sandwiches, and wraps made with wholegrain flour or even a cheese platter perhaps, dressed with nuts and dried fruit.

Get them involved in helping to prepare these yummy snacks and encourage creativity in how they put all these healthy ingredients together.

When the entire family eats healthy, it's easier to instill healthier eating habits in the kids. Preparing tasty yet healthy food can slowly change your children's eating habits. For drinks, choose water. Flavour the water with frozen fruit or fresh herbs such as mint leaves. Both will make water more refreshing and complete the picnic experience.

Perfect for Evenings

#8 Read Together

As the evening unfolds and the sun sets, get your children ready for bed. How about tucking them into bed with a good book? Reading is a good wind-down activity for bed and also increases your children's learning capacity. As the tales meant for children often promote wholesome morals, reading gives you plenty of opportunities to inculcate values.

If they are very young, read to them. Just hearing the sound of your voice will deepen the bond between you and your children. You can also ask them what they would like to read. As you read together, pause every now and then to ask them what they think is happening in the story or ask them to guess how the main character is feeling. Let your children draw you into their world.

Much older children will probably be quite happy to tuck themselves into bed with a good book. Take an interest in what they are reading. Share books you’ve read with them. Download the National Library Board's mobile app and you'll be able to get a copy of beloved favourites like Geronimo Stilton, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or one of Asimov's science fiction classics.

For your little ones, you could also help them look forward to bedtime with our series of audio books about Captain Sleep's adventures and end it off with a sleep-tastic night.

#9 Film a Family Newscast

A meaningful way to end the staycay is make a family newscast together. Pretend you are making a news clip on everything that has happened during the staycay. You or your spouse can be the hosts interviewing your children as they describe their experience, and also encourage them to share their feelings.

It's a creative project so feel free to include more segments. Curious about what your children think of school or any recent events? Encourage them to share as you film their stories on your mobile. Talking and interacting with others stimulates their brains. Their minds will be working quickly to tell their stories.

When they are talking, you can be their pillar of support by listening, validating their feelings and appropriately responding, such as helping them to recognise and manage their emotions. Studies have shown that having supportive relationships helps to enhance our mental well-being.

Stay Well to Stay Strong

Those are the 9 things you can do as a family to strengthen your bonds and also boost your health. A home staycay that's fuzzy, warm and wholesome can also work wonders for your spirits.

When you're with your children, pay attention to how they are feeling. Are they curious or anxious about recent events? Listen closely, address their feelings and explain the situation calmly. You can explain the situation to your children in an age-appropriate manner. Allow them to express their emotions through activities such as drawing and playing.[7]

Think positive, make healthy choices and continue to practice good hygiene habits as a family, like washing hands frequently with soap. If you are looking for the latest updates on COVID-19, always tune in to official sources from the Ministry of Health. When everyone pitches in, we will be able to stay well to stay strong together.


References

  1. Habibi, A et al (October 2016). Neural correlates of accelerated auditory processing in children engaged in music training. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol 21, pp.1-14. Retrieved Mar 2020 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929315301122?via%3Dihub
  2. Linnemann, A., Ditzen, B., Strahler, J., Doerr, J. M., & Nater, U. M. (2015). Music listening as a means of stress reduction in daily life. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 60, 82-90.
  3. Thayer, R. E., Newman, J. R., & McClain, T. M. (1994). Self-regulation of mood: Strategies for changing a bad mood, raising energy, and reducing tension.Journal of personality and social psychology,67(5), 910-925.
  4. Munley, M.E et al (April 2012). Early Learning in Museums A Review of Literature (Website), Retrieved March 2020 from https://www.si.edu/Content/SEEC/docs/mem%20literature%20review%20early%20learning%20in%20museums%20final%204%2012%202012.pdf
  5. Anderson, D et al (2002). Children's Museum Experiences: Identifying Powerful Mediators of Learning. Curator. 45. 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2002.tb00057.x. Retrieved March 2020 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/27477504_Children's_Museum_Experiences_Identifying_Powerful_Mediators_of_Learning
  6. Degotardi. S, et al (2019).“This is a Learning Opportunity”: How Parent–Child Interactions and Exhibit Design Foster the Museum Learning of Prior-to-School Aged Children,Visitor Studies,22:2,171-191,DOI: 10.1080/10645578.2019.1664849 Retrieved March 2020 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/10645578.2019.1664849?scroll=top&needAccess=true
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, Apr 1). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Stress and Coming. Retrieved April 2020 from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html