Updated: May 31, 2020
Everything as we knew it has changed. Our routines with work, home and life in general are different and with that comes challenges. As we find ourselves home full time with children who are used to routines at school or childcare, we are navigating all kinds of new situations. The most important thing to remember is that our kids feel the stress too. Their worlds have turned upside down and feel new as well. Yes they are home with you, however, their routines have disappeared. The consistency of school/childcare routines are gone. You are now trying to entertain, engage, feed, nap and exercise an active toddler while being in your home...all...the...time. This is not an extended weekend or holiday. You now likely have the added stress of working remotely while being a full time, stay at home parent. This is not humanly possible. So give yourself some grace if you're feeling overwhelmed.
A huge part of thriving during this difficult time is to create routines and cultivate your environment to support engaging play.
Remove most, (yes - I said MOST) of their toys. When children’s space is inundated with too many toys, they get overwhelmed, distracted and are unable to spend time focusing on one thing. Plus, have you noticed? They get dumped everywhere!
Create baskets that you can put away and pull out when your child needs something “new”. This clears the clutter of their play space while helping them to focus on the toys in one basket. It also teaches them to take care of their things as it becomes a new routine to clean up before moving on. When they pull a basket out to play with the items, those must be picked up and put away before getting another basket out. This will take some practice, however, once they catch on, you will notice a huge improvement, not only in the cleanliness of your home, but in their behavior. They will be learning some self regulation skills which are priceless and extremely important as they grow!
Along with the new toy routine, a daily schedule is a lifesaver. Maintaining a daily routine keeps meals and sleep on track which in turn keep littles happier and more able to go through their day with ease. When there is no rhythm to their day, kids feel out of control and insecure, bringing on behavior that can be less than desirable and difficult to manage while stretched thin! Even under the most relaxed of circumstances, difficult behavior is just hard! Holding to routines can put everyone in the home at ease. Adults can plan their day around quiet times and kids know what to expect throughout the day.
Part of creating healthy daily routines, is establishing consistent transitions between times of day. Start building some rituals before and after meals. Before and after nap time. Before bedtime. This helps toddlers understand what is coming next and they tend to be less against the transition if it feels familiar.
Remember, you and your family can thrive during these difficult times. My family and I are learning to embrace and be grateful for the slower pace each day seems to bring.