It’s been said that children, the age group least likely to be seriously affected by COVID, are the ones asked to make the biggest sacrifices. And it’s true; they’ve experienced considerable changes in their lives while having little to no control over any of it. Birthday parties, playdates – even simple things like attending school in person – have all gone by the wayside.

While we can’t snap our fingers and wish away the pandemic (if only!), we can lift their spirits with some indulgences to enjoy at home and with family. Whether they’re plugging away at online learning or we’re stuck in another lockdown, these splurges—at different price points—can help act as mid-pandemic motivators for the kids… something to break up the monotony of the everyday.

Free and fun

Don’t we all need an escape right about now? If you’ve ever enjoyed an escape room in person, you’ll know it can be a lot of brain-powered fun. A digital escape room isn’t quite the same adrenaline rush. Still, the competitive yet cooperative attributes of puzzle-solving could make it a perfect night in for older kids and their parents. Best of all, there’s a decent selection of free digital escape rooms available at different skill levels. This is an excellent option for a weekly family event! Get started with this spy apprentice-themed room created by two librarians.

The joy of learning

Kid-friendly pandemic splurges that are worth every penny - online STEAM learning

Maybe your kids have had it up to eyebrow level with virtual classes. Or perhaps they’re thriving with this new setup. If your kids fall in the latter category, allow them to explore their more offbeat interests with some online extracurricular programs. There’s a virtual lesson for just about any topic your child might be curious about. These could include anything from art techniques to robotics to stock market basics. Support small and inquire with local kid-centric businesses about their Internet-based classes. Or, check out the endless selection online for the perfect fit (Outschool.com is a popular choice). Bonus: Many municipalities offer online programming at a very reasonable cost. 

‘Old-school’ mail ✉️

Kid-friendly pandemic splurges that are worth every penny

Kids love expecting (and receiving) something in the mail, specifically for them. A subscription box of activities tailored to their interests could be the perfect alternative to another afternoon spent on the couch watching TV. For example, KiwiCo offers themed monthly STEAM boxes that help cultivate curiosity, regardless of age. These kits come with everything you need for several crafts, along with a booklet of instructions and ideas for further learning. 

Fancy forts

The perfect pandemic splurge for small children—this “toy” resembles a childrens’ couch at rest. However, the modular pieces can be assembled and then reassembled into a dozen different configurations and more. Your child will love turning their couch into a balance beam, rocket ship, obstacle course, and yes, even a fort. Plush yet firm enough for builds, the GoCoconut (and similar couches) comes in several different colours and provide hours of active, physical fun when it’s too wet or cold to go outside. 

Getting away from it all

Home’s not a place; it’s a feeling, right? While it’s not technically a stay-at-home activity, a little trip out of town—restrictions allowing—could be a pick-me-up for your entire family. Many of us have been staring at the same four walls for way too long, and long-distance travel is still off the table. From a day trip to a new hiking spot to a week-long cottage excursion by the lake, a change of scenery could be just what everyone needs to reset and recharge.


Kimberly Leung hails from Toronto and moonlights as a freelance writer and content creator. She likes her coffee regular, her cereal sugary, and her meals cooked by someone else. She loves her kids but she can’t wait for the day they stop waking up at 5:30 a.m. (and, no, a later bedtime doesn’t work). She lives in a tiny house with her husband, 2 kids and their middle-aged cat.