At this point in the pandemic, your kids are likely missing school and you’re definitely missing the time when your kids used to go to school. The days are all blending together now, and school was able to switch things up in a way we couldn’t fully appreciate before. But you can take a page from your school’s Keep Things Interesting Playbook: Bring the idea of the classic school spirit week into your home with a slight twist—theme week.
The first step is to make sure everybody has some skin in the game. With roughly four weeks left in our city’s current stay-at-home order, I had everybody write down a theme idea on a piece of paper and put them into a hat. Then, my son drew the first suggestion out of the hat.
In the past two weeks, we’ve had Sandwich Week (my suggestion) and Nintendo Week (my daughter’s offer). These ideas came with themed food, activities and—perhaps most importantly—something to look forward to each day.
During spirit week, your kids might have gone to school with crazy hair or worn a favourite team jersey. Each day typically has a suggested activity or reason for its existence. Mimic that idea by trying to have one thing each day (food, activity, movie, game or craft) to celebrate the theme of the week. The goal is to add a bit of fun or distraction without the pressure of adding more to your schedule.
Sandwich Week was, of course, centered around food. We had sausage sandwiches. We made banana bread. We gently debated whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich, which led to a hot dog and toast becoming the stars of a small zine drawn by my daughter.
Leftover chicken shawarma was reborn as a sandwich with goat cheese, radishes and whole grain mustard. And we played Overcooked 2 on Nintendo Switch—a game where you must work cooperatively as chefs in a kitchen to meet an ever-growing list of orders. It only ended in tears once.
Nintendo Week was not only about technology—although it did start with bonus screen time. Just Dance 2020 opened up its unlimited library for a free month and my wife got the kids to move for 30 minutes in workout mode. I got a tutorial from my son about watching other people play video games on YouTube. Next up, we’ll build eight-bit inspired LEGO murals and decorate sugar cookies like Super Mario characters.
We’ve still got Pokémon Week (I bet we’ll be doing another Pokémon hunt) and History Week in the hat. When thinking about different themes, opt for broader categories that can go in a lot of directions. Find your themes in favourite movies, books, food or genres.
Star Wars, for example, is built for lightsaber battles, Yoda voice lessons and more than a dozen movies ready for watching. Harry Potter Week can come alive with homemade butterbeer, audio books for walks and magic lessons. Mystery Week might have an alphabet scavenger hunt, riddles and spooky stories with a campout in your yard or living room.
If nothing else, themes can help the weeks pass and the days feel different from each other.