Keeping the family occupied in lockdown

For Dr Simon Clark spending lockdown with his family presented an activity and entertainment challenge. How do you keep everyone occupied when your normal routine is limited? Here he explains the games, activities and resources he used to keep everyone healthy and happy.
Simon and his son

A new form of exercise

Having spent hours listening to my daughter and son moan about not being able to work out in the gym or play rugby to relieve pent up aggression, we devised a training plan for them. The idea came on one of the daily walks for exercise. Most farm yards seem to have an abundance of tyres, usually holding down the silage mound tarpaulin. One quick email later two bored rugby players were at the farm yard selecting tyres to help them train in the back garden.

We have two tyres - one is nearly six feet in diameter and two feet wide. They are used for bench press, leg press, tyre flipping and tyre catch. As well as standing jumps, inclined and declined press ups. When not in use they form Tyre Henge at the end of the garden!

Skills to learn

Juggling: there are plenty of resources to do this online. All three of my children have managed to juggle three balls. I am hopeful that continued practice might mean that they can fund their student lifestyle by busking!

Liar's dice

As featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Its official name is Perudo. You need five six-sided dice per player and a cup. As many as you like can play, but past six it gets difficult.

You all shake you dice in a cup and put the cup upside down, with the dice within it on the table. You can only look at your own dice. You then bid as to how many of an outcome there may be. But the next person to bid must go up by either dice number or face value.

So, if you look at your five dice and there are three 2s, you might think that at least one other person had thrown a 2 and then bid four 2s.

The next player can bid four 3s, 4s, 5s or 6s, but if they want to bid on the number of 1s, it would have to be five 1s.

This goes on round the table until a player calls the last bidder a liar. At which point everyone reveals their dice. If there are less than the number bid the bidder loses a die. If correct the accuser loses a die.

As the number of dice decreases it gets harder to keep track of how many possible outcomes there are. I did suggest that we should try playing with my son’s D&D dice set, which could allow up to 20 possible outcomes. My daughter thought this would be good and managed to bid five 7s, while we were still only paying with the six-sided dice. As it is all about bluffing, there is much hilarity about not being able to count, and being forced into making outrageous bids, just in case someone has rolled four of something.

Online games

There is something called Jackbox Games - I had never heard of it. The children play them at university, using their smartphones. The games are versions of standard parlour games. My favourites are Quiplash and Fibbage. These involve much lying and witty comments.

In Quiplash you are given part of a phrase, maybe an advert for soap powder. You have to come up with a slogan and the other players then vote as to the best quip. In Fibbage you have to come up with a lie to fool others.

The drawing games are also pretty good. You get given a title to draw on your phone. Special tip: use an iPad (bigger area, more forgiving). There is no rubbing out. So every mark needs to be thought about. The pictures are then entered into an art auction or some other competition. You have to bid for the ones of highest perceived value. However, you only know the title of the picture. Not what the actual image looks like.

It is family time we never bargained for and will cherish forever.

The best thing about lockdown: all the children have been home and lovely to each other. They are 22, 20 and 16 years old. The three of them, of course, rowed a little, but generally we have had more meals together during those weeks than we have had in the last three years. They chatted about garden workouts, computer gaming and school lessons.

My wife and I feel blessed that these young people have stayed with us. It is family time we never bargained for and will cherish forever.