Don't let cabin fever get the best of you - here are some tried-and-tested tips from mums on how to survive hotel quarantine with kids.
Picture this: you’re stuck in a room with three people for 14 days. Although this might sound like a typical scene in a horror movie, it’s oh-so-very real for people who have to get through the much-talked about, dreaded hotel quarantine. It’s bad enough to have to experience it on your own, but when you add kids to the mix, it’s a whole different story. Sure, I get the odd flashes of PTSD, but I’m grateful to have survived the experience with my family and sanity intact.
If you’re moving to Singapore or back to your home country, and have to serve the 14-day SHN (Stay Home Notice) at a hotel or another dedicated facility with the whole fam, don’t worry. We’ve got some helpful tips from actual “hotel quarantine with kids survivors” – Ali, Annisa, and ourselves – on how to get through 14 days without losing your mind and drinking too much wine. You’re welcome.
How to survive hotel quarantine with kids
Know the rules so you can make the most of your stay
The rules are different for every country, so we suggest researching beforehand. In Singapore, those serving 14-day SHN or 14-day hotel quarantine are assigned rooms in designated SHN facilities by the government. Yep, this means you can’t pick your hotel, but some families are lucky to enjoy five-star hotel rooms (which means awesome bathtubs and views, whoop!). Also, everyone will be swabbed for Covid-19, but kids aged 12 or younger can skip the test unless someone in the family tests positive.
…the good(ish) news
Although you aren’t allowed to leave your hotel room, you’re allowed to order groceries and food – yas! So if you aren’t happy with the hotel food or think your kiddies deserve a treat or two, then order away. Here’s our guide to the best grocery and food delivery services on the island if you need it! If you have friends or relatives in Singapore, they can send you care packages through the hotel staff too! Whoop!
Set a schedule
When you’re trapped indoors (as you may have been for awhile, no thanks to government-imposed lockdowns or quarantine), the days and hours may feel like one big blur. And when you’re in quarantine with kids, they can seem longer or shorter, depending on whom you’re asking. Having a schedule or sticking to your old routine as much as possible could make your days in hotel quarantine feel more productive. Do that morning workout, drink that cup of lunchtime tea, or cuddle up for a bedtime story – whatever you do normally, try to stick to it.
Have lots of arts and crafts materials on hand
One thing that kept our kids’ attention for more than 15 minutes was arts and crafts time. We were lucky enough to receive a care package from a friend with all kinds of art materials: stickers, paint, fun hole punchers, coloured paper, play-dough, crayons, markers and even old toilet rolls. The kids had lots of fun getting their hands dirty and it was a nice, quiet break for the adults. Puzzles are a great way to distract the fam too!
Pack lots of snacks
If you’ve got little snack monsters like ours, having a steady supply of healthy(ish) snacks on hand helped calm them down. It was also another way to guarantee a little bit of quiet time and get a sneaky cup of coffee in. We made sure to pack all their favourite snacks just so the hotel experience wouldn’t be too much of a change from their regular routine.
Bring little reminders of home
Apart from familiar snacks, another way to keep kids happy during hotel quarantine is to bring small things that remind them of home. Mummy Annisa says, “We brought light blankets and plastic plates from home to make the experience feel less cold or impersonal.” Don’t forget to pack their blankies or stuffed animals – or even their placemats!
Rotate their toys
Annisa also says that rotating her son’s toys helped liven things up. “We gave Sammy little toys and new activities to try out every two to three days to keep him excited and occupied.” With young kids who are easily distracted, there’s a good chance that they won’t need to play with all of their toys at once. Also, by minimising the amount of toys the kids have access to, they’ll be encouraged to stretch their creativity. Teach them to embrace change and this way, you’ll be able to keep the mess to a minimum too!
Be generous with the screen time
If there was ever a time you could be a little bit more lax about giving the kids an iPad or your phone, hotel quarantine is it. Give yourself a break – these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. “As a rule, our kids have limited screen time. Weekends only (apart from homework). During quarantine, we agreed to ease the rule, but it was still no screen time until after lunch – and even then it was dependent on behaviour. My kids thought they were in heaven!” says Ali. If mum-guilt is still eating you up, why not check out our top picks for educational apps and shows?
To do you (as long as time permits)
Whether it’s by doing happy hour with the hubs or eating a scoop of ice cream while the kids are sleeping, it’s important to do things that make you happy too. So keep on doing those online art classes and don’t feel guilty about drinking another glass of wine. After all, a happy mum means happy kids – win-win for all!
The kids will be alright
You’d be surprised at how much some kids enjoyed the whole experience – we gotta give it to these little ones, they’re tougher than we think. In fact, they probably loved the fact that they FINALLY got to have mum and dad around all the time. “I was blown away by how much resilience the children showed,” says Ali. “We tried to make the whole situation feel like an adventure, and they just rolled with it. They were excited to have a giant room with a giant bed, TV and bathroom all to themselves. The possibilities were endless!” Annisa agrees. “Sammy kept on asking to go back to the hotel! But looking back, I think he liked how we were all together all the time (and lots of iPad time).
Instead of stressing out about how to survive hotel quarantine, focus on all the quality family time. Years from now, all of you will look back at this and say, “We didn’t kill each other! Whoohoo!”. You’ve got this, we believe in you!