Ideas For Keeping Everyone Sane

With many communities around the country cancelling preschool and public health authorities recommending that people remain in place at home where possible, many parents will likely soon find themselves spending A LOT of time with their toddlers. While it may not necessarily seem like it, one silver lining to being cooped up at home is that it presents a great opportunity try a host of fun activities with your toddler. What’s more, doing fun activities together may be the secret to keeping everyone sane during this stressful time.

Below are our top five picks for fun activities to do around the home with your toddler:

#1 - Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

If your toddler typically spends most of the day at preschool or daycare, then you have likely been the unexpected beneficiary of the fact he or she was likely getting a significant amount of exercise in these settings. While you may not have been particularly attuned to the fact that your child was spending a large part of the day exercising with friends during playtime or running around the playground, you certainly reaped the benefit when you picked up your semi-exhausted toddler in the afternoon.

Taking time out every single day to exercise with your toddler is the number one recommendation we have to keep you and your child sane if you are shuttered at home due to the coronavirus.

Now that you’re spending all day at home with your toddler, however, you may suddenly find they have A LOT more energy than you were expecting. Thankfully, much of this is likely attributable to a lack of exercise.

Counter your toddler's “energy overflow” by exercising with your child for an hour or two EVERY day you are at home together. While this may sound like a lot, it’s not much for a young child accustomed to running around for large parts of the day.  As an added benefit, it’s also good for YOU!

The exercise you chose to do with your child shouldn’t be complicated or involve much in the way of equipment. Instead, keep things simple by doing exercise activities like dancing along to YouTube videos on TV, going through an “on demand” cardio workout (try it—you’ll likely find you toddler is surprisingly good) or, if you can maintain proper social distancing protocols, going for a bike ride or playing a game outside. Sunlight and the Vitamin D it provides are great for lifting moods.

#2 - Read Books and Tell 'Tall Tales'

We’ve all likely heard that it's a good idea to regularly read to our toddlers. Many of us may have even committed to a dedicated reading schedule of two or three books a day, only to see that commitment slip in the face of other priorities.

Reading to your child promotes brain development, teaches communication skills, helps foster a sense of imagination and strengthens the parent-child relationship, amongst other benefits." 

Well the past is the past! With things temporarily slowing down dramatically, no time is better than the present to add to your child's proverbial 'reading bank.'  

With the time you now have on your hands, try out those tricky or longer books that your child loves and which you've previously tried to nudge them away from due to time constraints. And, if you run out of books or just want to try something different, telling stories has many of the same developmental benefits for your toddler as reading books.  

#3 - Play Board Games

If you haven’t tried playing board games like Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Connect 4 or Jenga with your toddler, there is no better time than when your cooped up at home to give things a whirl. Similar to reading books to your toddler, playing board games together provides a fantastic opportunity for strengthening the parent-child relationship and promoting cognitive development through the teaching of board game rules. What’s more, these games are surprisingly fun and you’ll be shocked at how quickly your child picks things up.

And, if you grow tired of board games, don't forget the old standby's of hide-n-seek, I spy and tag.

#4 - Bake Together

Baking is not only fun, but also a great way to prepare delicious meals you might not otherwise have the time to prepare in the hustle and bustle of daily life (in normal times that is). And, like every other activity in our list today, baking is also a great way to strengthen the parent-child relationship by bonding with your child. What’s more, baking is also a fantastic way to teach your child to follow instructions—a skill that will keep everyone sane when you’re stuck at home for an extended period of time.

Toddler Tip

As with everything “toddler” that you do, get the most out of your time baking by making sure to explain everything you are doing to your child. Talk about the ingredients you are using, where they come from in the world, what they taste like and what happens to them during the baking process. Talk about any tools you use to prepare food and make sure to take the opportunity to teach proper kitchen safety (e.g. washing hands). In short, talk about everything!

#5 - Do 'Art Time'

Setting aside time to be creative is something many of us let slide as we move into adulthood, but which the preschool and daycare environments thankfully tend to prioritize.

Now that your toddler will be spending the day at home with you, make sure to “keep a good thing going” by taking the time to engage in artistic activities with your child. This can be anything from painting with watercolors to doodling at the kitchen table. If painting and drawing begin to lose their appeal, then sculpting with Play-Doh and singing are great activities. And, if you’re singing, make sure to add in a little dancing so that your toddler can squeeze in some extra exercise!

In Short, 'Keep On Keepin’ On'!

In these trying times, it’s important to be thankful for our families and to see the silver lining in the extra time that recent work and school closures allow us to spend together. Make sure to engage your toddler, cherish the time you spend with them during this awesome age and keep things upbeat!

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