Activities for Toddlers During COVID-19: How to keep Mom's Sanity
COVID-19 has made me a work-from-home mom. As I write this, I am on Day 4 of working from home, entertaining a toddler and making sure we have enough toilet paper. COVID-19 has completely upended my March plans.
As our government announced that gatherings of people should get smaller and smaller, I noticed that on social media, well-meaning people started posting "encouragement". It felt like everyone is using this time to get their stuff together and come out stronger, better, more complete people.
But I feel like I am struggling to make it to then end of each day with my sanity intact.
I have spent my days searching the internet and local grocery stores for toilet paper and chicken dinos. I have spent my days juggling my toddler daughter on my lap while trying to maintain the level of productivity I do at work. I have spent my days washing hands, entertaining, and trying to keep a sense of normalcy. I criticized myself for not being productive enough, for not providing a good-enough learning activity.
I felt building pressure from the super mom's of social media who seem to effortlessly juggle working from home, potty training their children and creating gourmet looking meals. I felt like a failure before our Shelter In Place warning had even begun.
I recently read a tweet that reminded me that this is a pandemic. Our country is in a state of emergency. We do not have to use this time to grow and thrive, that it is 100% okay to be overwhelmed and struggling to make it through the day. It is okay to focus on surviving and keeping your (and the kids) sanity in tact. It is okay to end each day with a *SIGH* "We made it."
Mom, Dad, Grandparents, who ever it is reading this that is in charge of keeping the tiny humans alive, you are doing a good job. You are doing the best you can. I am proud of you. You can do this. Release the pressure that you have to be the best care-giver, spouse, employee, preschool teacher, chef and house keeper. Embrace the imperfect, the messy, the unproductive. Remind yourself that this experience is not normal, that eventually this will pass.
In a desperate attempt to keep my sanity, keep Addie entertained so that I can work, I have complied a list of activities/resources. A huge shout out to Addie's preschool for the ideas and supplies for some of these activities.
- Thread the cheerios through the pipe cleaner: this activity builds on fine motor skills. It can be done with cheerios/beads/bracelets. I choose cheerios because I did not want to worry about her eating them. We have also used bracelets and stacked them on her arm. She can do this activity quietly at the table, or I can join in and help her count.
- Hide the cube under a paper cup, then find it: This activity requires a little participation from me, but it can be done while I am working. I place the blue cube (you could use any small toy) under a cup move the cups around and let Addie find the cube.
- Paint with Water: I found the Melissa and Doug paint with water from a friend. We do not have have paints in the house and I couldn't afford to spend a ton of money on activities. $6 on amazon with prime delivery had me sold. If you do not want to buy anything at this time, a paint brush and water (mixed with food dye) in the bathtub works well too!
- Virtual Zoo visits: I let Addie gather all of her buddies (stuffed animals) into the living room and pull up a zoo website. She can watch the live zoo feeds from several zoos and hear from trainers about different animals. San Diego Zoo has a Baboon Cam, a Penguin Cam, a Polar Bear Cam, an Ape Cam, a Koala Cam, a Giraffe Cam, an Owl Cam, an Elephant Cam, a Tiger Cam and a Condor Cam. After watching an animal cam, I usually will search for an educational youtube clip on that animal: Zookeeper talk on ____.
- At Home Dance Parties: I actually changed this one up since I originally posted. A friend of mine introduced us to GoNoodle. There is an app for your phone or AppleTv as well as a website. There are numerous dance videos and several relaxing videos. The videos encourage kids to follow the movements. I jump in for a few of the dance videos to get some exercise and we use the relaxing yoga and breathing videos to get ready for bed time.
- Hide and Seek with Buddies: Addie has these little stuffed animals called Squishmallows. I will hide them around the house and let her find them. Then she will hide them and take Mommy on a search for them. At her age, she enjoys taking me right to them - so I don't have to actually look for them.
- I spy from our balcony: Living in a small apartment with a tiny balcony, we have to get creative with our outdoor time. We spend a few minutes every day playing I Spy. I pick colorful cars, clouds, plants and other stationary objects that are easy to find. We look for shapes in the clouds, count cars as they drive by and wave at neighbors walking their dogs. In the mornings, we can sit outside and listen for different sounds: birds singing, cars driving by, garage doors opening, dogs barking.
Toddlers and preschool aged children are at a tough age. They are just getting old enough to play independently, but at the same time, they still need your attention. Know that however you are able to juggle working from home and keeping the kids entertained is enough. You are doing a great job. We do screen time, we do extra long naps, we do snack time often.
I hope that you are able to relinquish any expectations or rules for this pandemic. My prayer for you and your family is that you are healthy and come out of this without too much scarring. We are modeling for our children how to behave in a state of emergency. I want my daughter to know that it is okay to be scared, it is okay to focus on surviving, that she is more important than my to-do list or the pressures I am facing on social media.
Take a deep breath. We will get through this.
As ideas come into play, I will update this post. In the meantime, if you could click the three dots on top and share this post with your friends. Sharing ideas and working together is how we are going to make it through this crazy time. Follow along on Instagram for updates on how we are surviving #socialdistancing and #covid19