This is a trying time, for everyone. Things are not the same as they were a few months ago and no one is sure when they will go back to ‘normal’. That being said, I thought I would put together a few ways to help. These are recommendations that I’ve used over the years for T, when nannying, and homeschooling.
-Don’t rotate in ALL favourite work or toys. You may think it will keep your child from getting “bored”, but this is not always the case. Have favourites available, just not them all at one time. Then you have an old favourite to offer when cheering up or me-time is needed or during an important work meeting.
-Rotate between slower activities and more active ones. If you spend all your energy early, you may be tired but your little one may not. But, you know what works best for your child. Some children need lots of movement prior to bed to ‘tire them out’, while that may just energize others.
-Whether your child takes a nap or not, it’s ok to have break times. With T, I would call it our me-time. He would take an hour in his room for a nap or quiet play. He wasn’t always tired, but I would explain that I respect that he may not need a nap and I need him to respect that I need some down time. Starting when he was around three years-old, I would use a sand-timer. Then he could visually see how much time Auntie needed. When he was a little older, a clock worked just fine. Time may vary for you and your child, an hour is what worked best for us.
-If your child has school work, try to do those activities first thing. Then, if your child becomes interested in something laster, you won’t be tempted to end their work and concentration. In the morning, you’re fresh from a goodnight’s rest and ready to take on the day. It’s nice to get it, what is often the least enjoyable part of an agenda, done early so the rest of the day can be less stressful. Depending on what their school work consists of, this may give you an opportunity to get some things done as well.
-Provide options. Age appropriate options like puzzle choices, play-dough and paint colour choices. During times like this, it’s common for children to feel powerless. Their world has been completely shaken-up. Offering them options is a way to give them a bit of control, just make sure they are options you are ok with and can accommodate. Montessori parents start giving their children options from birth. Offering two of an item (like pants or rattles) and allowing the child to choose.
-Play games together and teach them games to play on their own, like solitaire and dominos. You will probably be so sick of certain games by the time the curve is flattened, but repetition is everything to children. T was so into Clue Junior, I think I was playing it in my dreams and I’m ok never playing it again, haha.
-Figure out their routine at school and try to replicate it. Was there a special song they’d sing for snack time? Learn and sing it. Was lunch served everyday at 11:55 and then outdoor play at 12:31? Try to serve lunch and have outdoor play at the same time. This may not always be options, but if your child is having a difficult time, this may offer them great peace.
-The number one recommendation is grace. Offer it to yourself, partner, and children. Unexpected change isn’t easy for anyone, so you can’t expect things to be perfect, or even close to it. Lots of deep breathing! Perhaps taking up family meditation and/or yoga could offer you and your family some unity and calm. If something doesn’t go as planned, it’s ok. If you used the tv as a babysitter for an hour to take a bath and served candy for dinner, it’s ok. We can’t all become Martha Stewart overnight.☺️