by Eliza & Wyld Founder, Esther Downton.
This is a post contains some small pointers for parents who have toddlers at home during this crisis. Of course all kids (and all adults) are different, they have different attention spans, maturity levels and needs so this is by no means a one size fits all kind of thing. This is merely some ideas on how I am keeping myself sane and the family from breaking during this time.
I’ve picked out these 5 tips for getting through the day that may be useful for any parents out there who are struggling to juggle work, children and the harmony of the household at the same time. The juggle is real and while we hope this is not an extended crisis there is every chance it might be so we have to roll up our sleeves and get through this - without losing our minds. These 5 things have been helping me get through the past few days and are giving me a sense of control and comfort - which is helping. By way of a self care practice I am taking my regular dose of Daily CBD+MCT without fail at regular times, in the morning at 8:30am (20mg) and in the evening at 10:00pm (10/20mg). This is to support my sleep pattern, mood and stress levels during these challenging times. I am adding in a 10mg dose at lunchtime if I am having a particularly challenging day and feel I need extra support.
1. Structure. Structure is not just about being organized, it's about limiting energy drain though overthinking and constant thinking. Some of the most energy draining aspects of parenthood is the constant thinking, strategizing and creatively responding. If you can get ahead of it and do that work upfront it can make the days easier and also provides a solid reference point to guide you through the day. Kids also love structure, they like to know where they are in the day just like we do. I built out a visual wall chart for my toddlers with a big old arrow that points to where we are in the day, they get to move the arrow as we move through activities. I added pictures of them doing the activities so they could understand exactly what they were and what they could do. It's currently working like a treat, and I feel like I don't have to constantly think on my feet which really helps me reserve energy and reduce stress. I’ve made a generic schedule for you to download here, I used Canva.
2. Tech support. (Alexa, Google home/ phones / iPads/ TV).
One of the things that my children constantly want is food. Boredom is 100% the driver, and it can be sooooo annoying to be consistently fending them off. So I’ve started to ask Alexa to set an alarm for lunchtime and snack time - I then just say “wait for the alarm” and they get excited when it goes off. We also use Alexa for playing music for dance parties. FaceTime with their friends is a fun thing for them to look forward to. These calls are usually totally chaotic, but they are quick and fun and fill space in the day for both families. Personally I find screen time helps my kids to chill out, so in this time of crisis I am being responsible but not totally restrained on how much time they have. Obviously I’m favoring educational programming, but sometimes we all just need to veg in front of rubbish and frankly I think that's ok.
3. Work with your partner. If you have a partner at home, work with them to build out a schedule. Creating shifts for childcare helps you mentally know that you are not always going to be on duty. You can then plan some time to take a shower, take a walk, do your work or just sit and contemplate life. This ‘you time’ helps to punctuate the day and give you a moment to breathe. If you are a single parent or have your partner working away from you then leaning on some digital tools is a must have. I find the best success in getting a break when I am solo is to sit with them while they watch TV or are on the iPad. If I’m trying to load the washing machine or do my own thoughtful work they will hang on me like monkeys and it's impossible. So I put the TV on and sit with them with my laptop, phone, or book. I get a break of sorts and at the very least it enforces a little rest time.
4. Get creative with what you have. Looks like we can still utilize Amazon etc to get supplies in, but there is so much fun to be had with empty loo rolls and cardboard boxes. Humans are creative beings and you don't have to be a school teacher or artist to find something to make with a cereal box and roll of tape. For simple ideas on activity boxes takes some advice from Caitlin Kruse at the mama notes. She has a bunch of ideas of creative and sensory play.
5. Lean into it. This looks like it's going to go on for a while so just enjoy it, enjoy the kids, get to know them, laugh with them, be silly - it's a welcome relief from reality to just dig in the garden or do some coloring in. But also lean on your friends and family - connect with people on the phone, or FaceTime or whatever. When the kids are in bed, if you need support don't be afraid to ask for it. You are not alone, we are in this together and there is no right way to do it, you gotta do what you gotta do.
If you have a creative solution to help parents with young kids during this time please share in the comments below! These are not normal times and even though we sometimes behave like superheroes we are just humans after all. It's important to stay healthy and strong in mind, body and spirit.