Ask any parent if they would like to stay inside a hotel room 24 hours a day with their kids, with limited resources for 14 days, 1 kid is hard enough but multiply that and I’m sure we will hear groans and see copious eye rolls! But that’s exactly what travel to some places, definitely back into Bangkok means in the light of the global pandemic that is still plaguing us. Parents and kids have to spend two weeks in strict quarantine where they are not allowed to go anywhere beyond a small hotel room even to eat or exercise and when you add extra bodies into the equation the task seems daunting, but the good news is, you can survive it!
After you have navigated your obstacle course of Covid tests, mountains of entry or re-entry documentation, canceled and rescheduled flights you finally enter your mandatory quarantine in government approved ASQ hotels. ASQ hotels range in order of price according to your requirements, expect to spend up to THB 100,000 if you want a room with a balcony or view and they go as low as THB 34,000 for a simple basic room sadly sometimes with no window at all. With kids the importance of saving your sanity with a suite, larger room with a kitchenette or even a villa by the beach is key but like everything in life it’s tied to your budget. Do shop around, we have attached link here to various Bangkok based Facebook groups that have sprung up giving recommendations on various hotels, locations and a full list of hotels currently offering this service.
* Top Tips With Smaller Kids
- Invest in sticker books, colouring books, crayons, coloured pencils and chart paper. (watch out for felt pens and markers as we have heard of some pretty hefty bills given to parents whose kids permanently marked sofas!)
- Bath or window crayons are a great idea to stretch out their fun bath time routine with drawing patterns on the bath or tiles or time to do their ABC or 1+1, kids love water and as they are stuck inside this could be their water play time.
- Check what the food provisions are at your ASQ hotel ahead of time, can you order from their room service menu, have food dropped to you or is it strictly what food is provided. If so, stack up on snacks for the kids, baby formula, sachets of hot chocolate, gummy vitamins, pot noodles – basically whatever they like to snack on or eat as happy kids will equal happy parents.
- Invest in travel size magnetic board games or puzzles, anything that takes time.
- Top Tip from a parent who survived 21 days quarantine with 4 kids – Use a hair dryer to drown out of noise!
*Top Tips With Teens
- Get your teens to connect with other friends in advance, those possibly in quarantine to create study pods or something to motivate them so they have a focus.
- Stock up on their favourite snacks, any parent of a teen knows snacks are life savers as they eat, eat, eat!
- Make sure they have any study guides or required reading for entering their new academic term, mandala colouring books are great or older kids with more intricate patterns they can use as a form of art therapy or meditation practices.
- From a parent who survived 14 days with 2 teens – Give them a break on screen time, they will play online games, they will scroll their social media and to avoid conflict just remember it’s an intense time for teens to be forced to give up their privacy and freedom and for a short period cut them some slack!
Create a routine
The only way you will survive this is by structuring your day. The danger of waking up late, watching TV and not knowing day from night is all too tempting but not only will this wear thin very quickly, it will also make jumping back into the real world so much more difficult.
Kids might not like to admit it but they crave routine – and that goes for the quarantine period, too. You can plan a schedule ahead of arriving in quarantine based on your work schedule, kids on-line learning or basically anything to fill those endless hours! By allowing your kids to be involved in this ahead of time you can make this a fun experience for them and they know what to expect on arrival. You could invest in a magnet fridge board where the daily or weekly schedule could be displayed or even get the kids to create their own copies where they can add feeling stickers or stars when a task is completed. Either way, put the daily timetable on display so that kids know what comes next without bugging you. Come up with a set of ground rules to keep everyone balanced, such as limits on screen time for younger kids and for all kids young and older stick to normal/reasonable bedtimes.
Change up the rhythm on Saturdays and Sundays so that it feels like a weekend – perhaps celebrate with movie night and something special from room service if your hotel allows. If not, crack open those precious sachets of hot chocolate and chips.
Bring on the games
Having a variety of activities – including stuff kids can do by themselves – will keep quarantine interesting. Let them get creative with crafts projects, colouring books and even window markers (which easily wash off).
This is the perfect opportunity for anything that takes time, like piecing together intricate new lego sets, or making headway with the Harry Potter books or any pre-term reading or study guides for older kids. Ask your hotel in advance if they have any board games they could loan or invest in some travel size board games and create a weekly game night.
Take a Virtual Tour
During the last 18 months everyone from the National galleries to NASA have created some amazing online virtual tours for kids and adults to continue and enhance their learning. You can see a show, visit the great wall of China or take a virtual tour of the British Science museum or Yellowstone park. This might be a good idea to make a travel wish list and take some virtual tours to give the kids a taste of what they can expect.
While you can’t break out the scooters and bikes, exercise should be a part of the whole family’s daily routine. There are online workouts tailored to children, like Cosmic Kids Yoga or Go with Yoyo, and old-school classics like musical statues or Simon Says that get everyone moving. Try to let the kids burn off at least 30-40 minutes of energy a day, morning and afternoon if you can.
Teens can join more advanced instructional videos or come up with their own make-shift fitness equipment, lifting bottles of water as free weights, trying out a new yoga class or participating in group aerobic fitness videos with you or their friends also in quarantine. Most hotels will not let you use the gyms but if you are lucky enough to have this option, encourage the teens to get out for an hour each day just to change up their surroundings.
Defuse tantrums with a little spontaneity. Let loose with a pillow fight, or turn up the music for an impromptu family dance party (older kids may prefer the Just Dance video game app). Create silly family photos, videos, make memories as this time in their life may never happen again so make some unique memories.
Reimagining your hotel space is a great way to change things up on weekends. You might arrange a scavenger hunt, an obstacle course, or make a fort out of pillows and sheets. Turn the bathroom into a child-friendly day spa, with toys and bath bombs, colourful nail polish and stickers; and or at home massages.
Some of the wonderful Bangkok activity centers have created some great online adventures the kids can sign up for from coding classes to art classes. We also have a great list of kids activity kits that can be pre-ordered and waiting for you at your hotel or delivered to your door to keep little hands busy for hours on end!
We have heard many stories how families have amused themselves by coming up with hypothetical escape plans!
Keep some perspective
Kids mimic how their parents handle situations and regulate emotions. So try your best to stay positive and prioritise wellbeing, even if it means breaking the rules or getting silly sometimes (pizza for breakfast? karaoke night?). Quarantine, too, will pass, and being together 24/7 might yield some family memories you’ll look back on fondly someday. Keep a check on everyone’s emotional and mental health and keep reassuring the kids, however old they are, that this time will pass.
Story Times With Heads & Tales
Anna Manuel, created a collection of stories on her IG/FB page called QuaranTALES – stories she wrote during the 14 days in quarantine. She wrote about things that were around her in the room or outside the hotel window. It might give parents ideas on what they can do with their children during the 2nd lockdown.
These are the more loved stories/rhymes in the series:
Which Color? https://www.instagram.com/tv/CNPVAxJhLnR/?igshid=1lgg33ilx8atl
Whilst we don’t think many people would sign up to do this again, we do believe that kids are more resilient when it comes to handling the so-called new normal, and that grownups can learn from them. Kids have nothing to compare anything against and their expectations are nil. If you can show them what you’re going to do today and help them understand, they can handle it. Kids can handle anything!