I am nearly 3 years into this adventure called motherhood. That means that I’m going through quarantine with a…..TODDLER! (Cue dramatic fanfare!) Now, I’m not going to try to compare the trials of being stuck in a house with a toddler vs. that of say, a mom of multiples (God be with you!), or teenagers, etc. I’m sure each stage has it’s struggles. But I’m here to talk about how it is to mom an active, innocent, rambunctious, almost 3 year old boy without the typical freedom we have grown accustom to enjoying. And, more importantly, I want to share some ways we have found to cope with all that wonderful energy!
Last year we enjoyed annual passes to Disney. We went often as a family, and probably even more often for mother/son dates! It was glorious! This year we changed it up for Sea World and Aquatica annual passes. We were already knee deep in fascination and fun, and looking forward to my son’s first Aquatica trip, when COVID-19 changed everything.
It has now been nearly 2 months since we visited the park, and my son asks daily…literally DAILY…”Mommy, can we go see the sharks, and dolphins and whales today?”. Of course I have to tell him “Not yet, Lovie. When everyone gets better again, then we will go see our animal friends.” Truth be told, I’m as eager to engage in our “normal” luxuries as he is. There are few things as lovely as watching your little one look with sincere awe at anything, the way he does at the animals. And there are few things as sweet as the wonderful, sound sleep that we both get to enjoy after exerting ourselves on such a day!
Since the “shelter in place” orders began, we’ve had to find other methods of achieving both the awe, and the sound sleep! I work from home as an online TESOL tutor, so a few hours of my day are still devoted to doing that. During that time my husband keeps our son entertained with toy cars, trips to our backyard playground, a few favorite cartoons, and waay more snacks than mommy would give! LOL! (It’s all acceptable for the cause!) When I am finished teaching I like to find fun ways for my boy to exercise creativity, and release energy, too!
Listed below are some of the ideas I’ve found that we enjoy doing together. These can all be adapted for the specific age/development of your little ones. Maybe you’ve tried some of these? Or maybe you have more ideas to try? Share in the comments!
Quarantine Activities for Toddlers:
- Backyard Scavenger Hunt! If you have a backyard then make the most of it! Create a list of basic items to find in the yard. You may let your child cross off each thing on the list as they are found, or even let them take a picture of each thing with your phone. Items I’ve included are: a butterfly, a white flower, a red flower, a blue flower, a lizard, a white stone, a grey stone, a yellow leaf, a flying bird, a squirrel, an airplane, and an anthill. If you do not have a backyard, you can adapt this by searching for these items from your car! Drive around and find different colors of vehicles, in addition to other items listed. Little boys especially love looking for big trucks, and fast cars! (Although, yes, some little girls are extra cool, and also like their cars 🙂 )
2. Rock Painting! We have tons of small stones of various sizes, shapes and colors in our flower beds. These are excellent for painting. I use watercolor paints that I bought from the dollar store. Adam loves using his paintbrush (and paint rollers left from his Easter Egg painting set!) to paint his rocks. His age loves to experiment with mixing colors. It’s a great project for working on color names, as well as teaching how to intentionally make different colors by mixing others together. It’s also great exercise for both his gross, and fine motor skills. I give him tools/brushes/sponges/qtips (under supervision) of different sizes so that he can practice making both broad, and detailed strokes.
3. Take a Walk/Tricycle Ride Around the Neighborhood! For those days when nothing other than a good solid sweat is going to work, hit the pavement! In my city we are still allowed to go outside for exercise, so long as we observe social distancing. Some days my boy has burned off extra energy (not to mention mommy!) by a good jaunt around the neighborhood. As we walk/jog/pedal we talk about the things we see, and whatever else is on his little mind. I love having time to spend in conversation with my son! Even at this age (He’ll be 3 in a couple of months) it’s amazing to hear all of the thoughts that are on his little mind! Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s serious. He doesn’t understand the whole Corona virus situation, but he knows that some people are sick. I like to encourage his sense of empathy when he mentions sick people. We almost always say a prayer for everyone, and talk about ways to help people from a distance. Which brings us to our next idea….
4. Make Thank You Cards/Get Well Cards/Miss You Cards! Sometimes we tend to forget how much a simple hand written/designed card can mean to another person. We live in a very digital age. After all, you are currently reading a screen, not a magazine! In a time like now when we are interacting with others drastically less than just several weeks ago, the gift of a “real”, physical, tactile card that you can touch can make a big impact. Pinterest is full of the most adorable handprint/footprint art that can easily be turned into cards to send to family and friends. And don’t forget the essential workers! Talk to your little one about being thankful for your mail delivery person, and make a sweet thank you card to put in your mailbox. Drop a few at the local hospital (many have staff who are at the doors so you don’t have to physically enter), or grocery stores, Police stations, etc. This is an excellent opportunity to talk to your little one about gratitude, as well as the importance of serving others.
5. Indoor Obstacle Course! If you are a planner like me (All the Happy Planner stuff, please!) then you have tons of decorative washi tape! Use some of that to create a fun obstacle course down your hallway, or any room in your home! Make boxes to jump like hopscotch, circles to spin around in, dotted lines to crawl (if you have a tunnel like us this is a great place to incorporate it!), smily faces to do a silly dance, etc. You can get creative, and have lots of fun! Make paths under tables, over ottomans, and serpentine around chairs! If your little one is able, have them do it backwards when they finish!
6. Mommy and Me Cooking Time! So this is a fairly new one for us because he has just gotten to the point where he can follow directions well enough to do it. Adam likes to stir cookie dough, mix the salad, and even “cut” soft vegies (like avocados) to add to the salad! It’s a great time to introduce the concept of measuring. I don’t expect my toddler to understand fractions, but he can get “one spoon” of sugar, or “two spoons” of raisins! Of course, his favorite thing is still to lick the spoon! LOL!
The list can go on and on! I hope you enjoyed reading some of our ideas. I’d love to hear the ideas you have incorporated during this time to keep your toddler busy, and learning! Please share in the comments! Till next time, may God bless you, and stay safe!
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