The Covid 19 pandemic has been challenging for most of us, but it has felt especially tough for those of us with young children at home. They say it takes a village, but we’ve all been without our loved ones during the pandemic. It hasn’t been easy.
That’s not to say it’s been all negative, though. Some of us have enjoyed the work-life balance of remote working and getting to spend more time as a family. We’ve had more bonding time to enjoy that newborn bubble. We’ve been more involved in our kids’ education than we would otherwise have been.
Family life has looked very different during the past couple of years. There have been stressful times, but we’ve also made wonderful memories.
Whether it’s local lockdowns, preschool closures, or the dreaded positive tests keeping you at home, we have put together some great tips to help you parent a toddler during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Keep reading for coping mechanisms, fun activities, and ways to distract your toddler while you work.
Parenting a toddler during Covid
There should be an award for parenting a toddler during a pandemic. Not anything flashy; a simple medal would do – something we could show our kids in the future when they are parents themselves.
If you’re stuck at home because of a household case of Covid, you might be finding it tough. Whether you’re all asymptomatic and bored out of your minds or trying to parent while you’re feeling rough, it’s not going to be the easiest of weeks. It’s not impossible, though, and you will get through it.
Here are some things that might help you parent a toddler during Covid:
Lower your expectations
You don’t need to have the cleanest house, the most polite toddler or the most impressive multi-tasking skills right now. You just need to cope. It’s OK to lower your expectations and embrace survival mode. After all, nobody will be calling by, so the skirting boards don’t need to sparkle.
It doesn’t matter whether you watch more movies than usual this week or spend less time moving. It’s one week; the important thing is that you all get through it with your sanity intact.
Reach out to your village
Family members and friends can’t come around, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help shoulder the burden of parenting a toddler in a pandemic. Your friends and family might be able to send games or activities in the post, to entertain your toddler for a while. Video call the grandparents and let the toddler entertain them while you enjoy a cup of tea in peace. It might not be the best video chat they’ve ever had, but it’s pandemic babysitting at its finest.
Put your life jacket on first
Self-care has become a cliche, but that’s because it’s necessary. It’s not easy with a toddler at home. You need to protect your mental health during the pandemic. If you’re struggling while stuck at home, make some time for yourself. It’s hardly going to feel like a spa day, but spending a bit of time focusing on yourself each day could be all you need to protect your mental health.
Have a relaxing bath after your toddler falls asleep at night, or wake up early to do yoga first thing. Read a book while your toddler naps or do a dance workout together to release some endorphins. These small things could protect your mental health and keep you away from breaking point.
Outdoor activities for toddlers during Covid
If you’re not isolating at home but are struggling with what to do during the pandemic, keep reading for some suggestions. Spending time outside is an excellent way to lift your mood. Yes, even when it’s cold and rainy. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing – or so the outdoorsy types say.
Here are some fun ways to get out and about with your toddler each day:
Go puddle jumping
The best way to convince toddlers to go out in bad weather is to promise them some big puddles to jump in. So wrap up warm, get your wellies on and head out in search of puddles.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Write a list of things to collect – for example, a stick, a daisy, or an autumn leaf. Think about your walk and the things you might find along the way. Give your toddler a little basket to collect treasures in.
Climb some trees
Walk to the woods nearest your house and pick a tree to climb. Tree climbing is an undervalued skill in modern society, but it is great fun, especially for older toddlers. If you repeat this activity regularly, you will see your toddlers’ confidence growing as they learn to trust their bodies, their strength, and their judgment.
For more outdoor activities, take a look at Toddler Games Played Outdoors.
Indoor activities for toddlers during Covid
If you’re looking for ways to entertain your toddler at home, give the following activities a try:
Set up a reading nook
Create a cozy corner with cushions and blankets; make sure there’s space for you, too. Put your toddler’s books nearby. Have story time each day when you can quietly snuggle up and read together. You might find your toddler goes to the reading area for quiet play or to sit alone and look at a favorite book.
Create an art space
This one is not for the faint-hearted, and you might want to position it so you can keep an eye on things. Set up a drawing desk equipped with plain paper and crayons so your toddlers can draw whenever they fancy it. Please don’t do this in your newly decorated room; younger children, especially, are likely to draw on the wall at least a couple of times.
Play a game of ‘Can you…?’ to entertain your toddler for five minutes. Your input to this game is minimal, so you can play while you’re folding laundry or making dinner. For example, ask ‘Can you touch your nose?’ or ‘Can you find a shoe?’ The possibilities are endless, so you can play until your toddler gets bored.
For more indoor activities, take a look at Toddler Games – 10 Fun Ideas For Your Toddler.
Where to take toddlers during Covid
Now that lockdowns are easing and places are opening up again, you might be wondering where it’s safe to take toddlers during Covid. Museums, cafes, play centers, and outdoor activity centers are open again, but are they safe to visit? That depends on you and how you feel. What feels safe to one person might feel too risky to another.
Check the websites or give the venues a call to discover what Covid 19 safety measures have been introduced. Then, if you feel happy with what’s in place, go along for a day out and enjoy yourself. If you feel safe, even very young children will enjoy the change of scenery, and you will benefit from a slice of normality.
Playgroups are up and running again, too, so you could check out your local playgroup. It’s a great environment to meet other parents and for your child to interact with others. Unfortunately, very young children have missed out on a lot of socializing during the Covid 19 pandemic, so you might be short on friends with young kids the same age as yours.
How to work while looking after a toddler during Covid
Is it possible to work when you have a toddler at home during the Covid 19 pandemic? Yes, to some extent. The truth is, you aren’t going to get an uninterrupted eight hours sitting at your computer when you have a toddler to look after. However, you can carve out chunks of work time during your day.
Share the load
If both of you can work from home, get your partner to share the load. All childcare shouldn’t fall on one set of shoulders; this is a problem for the whole family to tackle together. Take it in turns to entertain the toddler so that the other parent can work. This might help you both tackle your workload without stacking up the parental guilt of having a bored toddler.
Utilize nap times
If you know your toddler will have a big two-hour nap in the afternoon, plan your workday around it. Try to get the most out of this working time because it’s likely to be your biggest uninterrupted chunk of time all day. Bear in mind, though, that the youngest children can be unpredictable, and just because they napped for two hours yesterday does not mean they will today.
Be honest with your boss
In all honesty, it’s going to be tough to manage an entire workday around the demands of parenting a toddler. It’s best to be honest with your boss and have lower expectations about what you can achieve. If bosses are parents, too, they might be understanding.
Try not to beat yourself up about it; there is only so much you can do. Try your best but accept that you’re not going to be doing your best work this week.
Create invitations to play
If you have some work you desperately need to get done, try creating an invitation to play. There are many ideas on Pinterest, so have a quick search for something your toddler would enjoy. For example, you could use a sand table filled with diggers and trucks or create a doll washing area complete with shampoo and sponges. Set up a fun activity that might occupy your toddler for a while so you can quickly deal with some work.
Returning to preschool after Covid 19
Heading back to preschool after Covid 19 is likely to cause excitement. Your toddlers might have missed friends and teachers and be desperate to play with their favorite nursery toys again. However, it could be daunting for some kids to head back to preschool after being at home for so long. They might be wishing they could stay home with you.
Tell the preschool staff if your toddler seems nervous about going back; they’ll be able to help make the transition easier for you all. Also, if preschool is reopening after a closure, speak to the staff to find out whether any of the procedures have changed so you can prepare your toddler beforehand.