Building an Emergency Quarantine Play Box


Oh cool. Another day inside because these Midwest winters are the worst.  We have been inside now for what seems like 42 days straight. I am all about toughing the snowy winter days, but the frigid coldness is what keeps us inside. My kids seem to have played with every toy imaginable, given the current look of our playroom. They would still rather jump off the couch and wrestle than find something productive or fun to do. That’s when I broke out my secret weapon. Enter…

The Emergency Quarantine Play Box.

I saw these days coming in the fall, and my gut told me to start stocking up on something to entertain my two toddlers, or we would all go mad by March or April if we were lucky. I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on this, so I did these few things to gather a box that I could pull out random toys on days my kids just needed something different, new, exciting, and engaging. I kept the box in my basement, away from my kids, so they never had a chance to open it accidentally. I am thinking my creepy murder-like basement is coming in handy right about now. 

Old Toys/Books

I actually went around the playroom and picked up toys that they rarely played with.  Although I donated some to charity, I also kept a few, knowing they might be interested in playing with them another day. My mom was also thankfully in the purging mood, and she gave me a bunch of my old toys when I was little. Hello, Minnie & Mickey Mouse figurines and [original] Calico Critters house. I grabbed some books from the bookcase that my kids didn’t read too frequently but still enjoyed. 


I made a few trips to the Dollar Tree, Michaels, and the Target Dollar Spot to buy some crafts on sale. These crafts were anywhere from little wooden items they could paint, like a train or cactus, or little kits to create puppets. I tried to pick a variety because I knew some days I wouldn’t, mentally, be able to paint with them. Many of the items were toys or something they could play with. I didn’t want them to paint or create something to sit on the shelf. The craft being dual-use was important, as I wanted them to have fun creating and playing with it when finished. 


I actually found a few things for very cheap (mostly free!) on our local swap group on Facebook. I was able to get a few more games and puzzles from these groups to put in the box to mix up the variety of what went in there. There are many moms out there, especially with games and puzzles that their children outgrow, that want the items out of their house. Take advantage of that! Plus, it is better for the environment to reuse!


Okay, okay, I use this term loosely. I made sure to also keep some small boxes, egg cartons, and random craft items in the box in case there was a day where we felt extra eager to create something. Think of those Pinterest-worthy projects you’ve always wanted to create but never had the time to do it. Making a list? Good. 

I’m not saying this system is fool-proof, but I plan to continue this “Quarantine Box” even post-Covid. I think it is something all parents during winter, especially those with little ones, need. The box doesn’t need to be something you spend a lot if any, money on. Go ahead now. Stalk your neighborhood swap group, peruse the Dollar Spot at Target…you know you want to! 

And best of luck, mamas (& dadas). If we made it through 2020, we can make it through this winter. Leave some comments. What do you plan to put in your quarantine play box?