Pandemic Parenting: Toys, Gear & Games Our Editors Swear By

The pandemic is here to stay (at least for a while), which means you’re looking for fresh ways to entertain your kids and spend time together. Use this as an opportunity to try something new. Our editors—all moms working at home with their families—dish on their favorite toys, gear and games that have gotten them through even the toughest of days. From gear to get the kids stargazing to products that will turn you into a DIY popsicle superstar, read on for new ideas and products your kids will flip for.

photo: Kelty

Kelty Mesh Low-Loveseat

Our Bay Area Editor, Kate Loweth, loves this loveseat-style camping chair for beach days, lake days, backyard camping and all the summer fun. It's low enough to bring to use at backyard movie nights and the mesh bottom is perfect for when you want to park yourself in the creek all day (like her family did at their recent glamping vacay at Wildhaven Sonoma). 

Get yours here, $107.53. 

Get more recommendations from Kate here

Fancy Sidewalk Chalk & Painter's Tape

Our Atlanta Editor, Shelley Massey, is nuts for sidewalk chalk. Chalk is cool, but donut chalk is epic. And when you're heading out to your driveway for the 1,000th time, nothing will pump them up more than some fancy chalk and a roll of painter's tape, which is guaranteed to amp up the creativity factor. For inspiration on what to do with all that chalk, check out our favorite ways to have fun with sidewalk chalk, here

Available for $14.95 on Amazon.

Get more recommendations from Shelley here

DIY Paracord Bracelets

Chicago Editor Maria Chambers has older kids and this was the perfect way to keep them entertained on socially-distanced meet-ups with friends. When they were knee-deep in quarantine and most things were closed, she and her kids learned how to make paracord bracelets. Her daughter now wears hers every day. It was a fun project and also interesting to learn all the uses for the bracelets when used by soldiers and hunters. 

If you're interested in making bracelets for soldiers as a family community service project, find the details on where to send and how they're used here

Buy your colorful paracord here, a kit is $30.49. If you're looking for colors appropriate to donate to soldiers, buy the kit here, for $14.49.

Get more of Maria's recommendations here

Spooner Boards Freestyle

Our LA Editor, Shannan Rouss, had this super-rad recommendation that will get your kids active. Her son became obsessed with surfing after he saw a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode about it. Or maybe it was Lilo & Stitch that sold him on the idea. Regardless, he's only 4, so he's not ready for surfing lessons (plus physical distancing and all). So instead, he "land surfs" on the Spooner Board Freestyle. It took him a few attempts to get the hang of it, but he's mastered a 180 spin and is working on his 360.  

Shop now for a Spooner Board Freestyle, $44.

Get more recommendations from Shannan here

MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope with Tripod & Finder Scope

NYC Editor Mimi O'Connor had this fun idea for getting kids interested in stargazing. Her daughter got this telescope as a birthday present. This was inspired by recent stargazing activity and bought with the hope of using it when they headed upstate for a bit later in the summer. (They use the free app SkyView Lite for help finding constellations in the city.) It's a nice combo of not too complicated, but with enough features to be a level up from basic. 

Get yours here, $61.99.

Get more of Mimi's recommendations here

4 Person Beach Tent Sun Shelter

This sun shelter tent is one of Portland Editor Annette Benedetti's favorite pieces of outdoor equipment. It comes in handy whether her family is relaxing at a park, hanging out on one of their local beaches, or having a picnic in their front yard. It's easy to put together and keep mom and dad sheltered from the elements while they watch their kiddos play.

You can buy it here for $69.99.

See all of Annette's faves here

gofindit - Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Families

Our San Diego Editor, Beth Shea, recommends this fun card game to entice the kids to get off devices and get outside. It's designed for ages 3+ but it's engaging for people of all ages. The cards ask you to find specific item descriptions on your jaunt such as: "furry," "wow," "small," and "thin." You could even use it on road trips and anytime you leave the house to up the ante on any excursion. 

Get yours here, $12.50.

Get all of Beth's recommendations here

Tovolo Ice Pop Molds

Seattle Editor Allison Sutcliffe recommends this item to get you through those hot, hot months of summer. With the warmer-than-usual weather Seattle's been having, her kids have been downing homemade popsicles by the dozen to cool off. She's gotten a ton of mileage out of these BPA-free molds. The fact that she gets to control what goes into them . . .added bonus!

Get yours here, $11.99.

Find all of Allison's favorite things here

The Nature Anywhere Window

Our DC Editor, Meghan Meyers, loves this pick for bringing a little bit of nature inside. The Nature Anywhere Window lets you turn any room of your house into a wildlife observatory. Simply wet the suction cups and slap this bird feeder onto any glass surface; voila, instant home viewing! It took the birds in her hood a few days to feel comfortable eating at eye level, but they soon learned that her family was harmless. They even got two different bird nests in their backyard! 

Buy yours here, $28.90. 

Find all of Meghan's recs here

—Kate Loweth

Featured photo: iStock


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