SURVIVING QUARANTINE WITH TODDLERS
The kids in our home right now are ages 3, 2, and 1.
Three under 3 during a worldwide pandemic.
Y'all better be praying for your friends who are quarantined with toddlers. We are not okay.
Only kidding.... Kind of....
I have a love/hate relationship with toddlers. Their distorted speech and goofy little waddles are my favorite -- their tantrums and incessant questions, not so much.
I used to be a stay-at-home mom, and I loved almost everything about it. However, after awhile, my mental health began to deteriorate due to lack of adult interaction. Quarantine with toddlers is giving me flashbacks.
Which is why I've been super intentional and taken a proactive approach to quarantine with toddlers. Otherwise, I think I would have gone insane by now.
We're pretty much homebodies most of the time anyway, but what is it about the government telling you to NOT do something that makes you want to do it that much more???
So, if you're in the same boat as I am right now, here's my best advice:
1. Get your mind right
Your toddlers are going to wake up at 6 a.m., even on quarantine days. Because they always do. You KNOW this! So go ahead and let go of whatever expectations you had of sleeping in.
If you are cranky because you went to bed at 1 a.m. after binge watching Grey's, knowing full well your kids will be up in 5 hours, ready to go... THAT'S ON YOU.
Failure to set yourself up for a good day by getting as much sleep as possible is not your toddler's fault.
Likewise, you KNOW your toddler is going to throw a fit over something ridiculous or ask you a million questions before 8 a.m. Because that's what toddlers do. So go ahead and prepare yourself now to respond with patience and grace.
Just because your toddler doesn't know or understand what is going on in the world right now, does not mean they can't feel it. They pick up on the stress levels of everyone around them (especially if you're parenting kids from hard places).
Try to do everything within your power to take care of your mental health right now (i.e. limit news and social media exposure, eat right, get enough sleep, move your body, etc.) and make sure you're adjusting your expectations of your toddler accordingly. Unrealistic expectations will only leave you disappointed.
2. Keep them engaged
If you're trying to work from home while parenting toddlers, I salute you. I had to do this for the first week of quarantine and it was rough. I don't recommend it.
But whether you're staying home or working from home is neither here nor there for this point. No matter what, you HAVE to keep them engaged.
I'm not saying you have to keep a strict schedule and be a Pinterest perfect mom. Heck, if you're toddler stays engaged in front of the TV for hours, power to ya. But you do need to have some sort of plan in place.
Toddlers who are bored throw tantrums, and I'm all about preventing tantrums at all costs.
Personally, we've been spending hours on hours on hours outside during quarantine. Our kids typically only last in front of the TV for about 20 minutes, but they'll spend hours outside digging, playing on the swing set, finding treasures, coloring with chalk, racing, and playing pretend.
Plus, the fresh air and Vitamin D does my mental health a world of good.
Another way we keep our toddlers engaged is by having them "help" us with tasks. They love to sweep the floors (and by "sweep" I mean spread the dirt around), switch the laundry, throw trash away and wipe down surfaces.
Sometimes we do art projects like this one we did for Easter Sunday. We read tons of books together and they also brush my hair a lot.
You know your toddler best. You know what will and will not keep them engaged. The point is, you have to be prepared to do it.
Otherwise, you're days will be filled with fighting, whining, yelling, tantrums, and attitudes.
These are hard times for everyone. But let me assure you friend, you CAN do hard things. We will make it through this.