Many families have toddlers that are not attending daycare or preschool now. They are at home. All day. They are off their schedules, and sometimes seem off their rockers! Here are some ideas to help their parents retain their sanity:
- Create a routine for them. This means that they get snacks at a certain time, outdoor play at a certain time, look at books, take a nap, listen to music, etc. all in a predictable sequence. Paint rocks, tear up scrap paper and glue it onto a bigger piece of paper, etc. Crafts are fun and they can be cheap. You don’t have to reproduce the school routine, you just have to be consistent about your home routine. They will learn to anticipate what comes next, with all the calmness that consistency provides.
- Have some emergency items/activities. Bake off some pre-made cookie dough, open up some new toy you saved for a special time. It is special now! Root through the back of the gift closet or the toy box and find something that is new or seems new.
- Turn on music and calm everyone down. Music is powerful, and these days we need it. Sing out and be silly. You probably could blow off some steam too.
- Make sure they get to move. Every day. Even if all you do is dance around the room, make it active. Jump on pillows, log roll around safely, etc. I treated kids in tiny NYC apartments, so I know it can be done. It isn’t about having a lot of space.
- Reconsider the use of screens as rewards. I know it works, but there is a price to pay after that initial quiet time. Think carefully about what will happen when time is up, or when meals of bedtime come. It could get ugly. I have used screen activities in treatment, but NEVER EVER a reward, or even a consistent activity every session. It is another fun thing we do that isn’t always available, and certainly not received by howling for it.