England finds itself under new lockdown rules from 5 November until at least 2 December (assuming Parliament consents). The new rules mean that nearly all leisure and activity venues will have to close, as well as non-essential shops. Mixing with other households will also be greatly limited. So what can families still do safely under these new measures?
Explore Your Local Area… Some More
Cultural and leisure venues will remain closed through November, but the great outdoors is still very much there to enjoy. Government guidance says you can “exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place”, which offers plenty of scope for adventure. Most of us live within walking distance of more than one park, woodland or other natural location, so go for a ramble around the local area. To make things more interesting, you could turn the walk into a scavenger hunt, and get the kids looking out for pine cones, wild flowers, acorns and other items on a checklist.
Note: the Government rules say that we should not leave our local area without good reason, though it’s not clear exactly what is meant by ‘local area’.
Appreciate The Joys Of Autumn
We’re not in winter yet. Many trees still hold on to their yellowing leaves. The woodland floor is littered with acorns, pine cones and beech nuts. It’s the best time of year to rediscover the natural joys on our doorstep. Try these five creative ideas to put the ‘awe’ back into ‘autumn’.
Try These No-Prep Activities
Back in the first lockdown, we drew together a list of 33 outdoor activities that require zero preparation. Just open your door, and off you go. Some need a garden, but most can be enjoyed out in the park.
Enjoy The Playground
Pretty much the only leisure facility that hasn’t been ruled out is the outdoor playground. These were off-limits during the spring lockdown, but will remain open this time round. If the November weather doesn’t put a damper on things, then the swings, slides, climbing frames and trampolines of your local playground will be a natural place to give the kids some fun. Just remember to follow safety rules and use plenty of hand sanitiser.
Get Stuck Into A Park Game
If you’d rather avoid playgrounds (they can get quite busy), then try one of these simple park games that just need some open space and everyday equipment like balls or skipping ropes. All the games are suitable for household groups.
See One Friend
The new lockdown rules prevent most contact between households. One small exception allows for an outdoor meeting of two people. That means a teenager from one household can see a teenager from another household, so long as they’re in an outdoor public place (not a private garden), and observe social distancing rules. In addition, children who haven’t yet started school are not counted as part of the one-and-one rule. So a mum with a toddler could meet another mum with a toddler, for example. Again, they’d have to be outdoors and keep two metres apart (including the kids).
Get A Favourite Takeaway
Restaurants, cafes and pubs can’t offer a stay-in service during lockdown, but they will still be allowed to serve takeaway or by delivery. The weekly treat of a takeaway will give kids something to look forward to, as well as helping struggling small businesses.
Meeting friends is all-but-impossible outside of school, but you can of course arrange virtual playdates on Zoom, FaceTime and other video software. You could meet for just a natter, but why not try one of these video-call games? You might even try to host a children’s party via Zoom, or perhaps a virtual Sunday lunch with relatives in another household.
Have Fun Indoors!
You may feel that you’re beginning to exhaust ideas for keeping the kids amused indoors. There’s always more to do, though. Take a look at our long, long list of craft projects, for example. Or choose one of these (dozens) of novelty cake baking ideas. Kidadl’s Indoors section is one of the best resources out there for finding stuff to do around the house with children.
View our guide to the new rules and what they mean for families.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.