Times are difficult. And dealing with multiple variables at a time makes it extremely challenging – working parents, kids at home, lines everywhere, declining supplies and increasing frustration of working from home with no avenue to socially engage yourself and your children.
Well, here are some tricks that is helping me manage my super energetic twin toddlers at home during lockdown and yet remain sane! Read on and feel free to share some love!
Keep a strict schedule for kids at home. Let them know this is the “routine” they will be in. And soon you will see they will follow. If you want to sustain this lockdown and maintain your sanity, keep them on a schedule that works best for your requirements. Benefit of having a schedule especially at home is you know your work windows and you can plan your day. One advice I always give to new parents and old is wake up an hour before kids wake up. You will see a difference in how much better you can manage. A good way to think of schedule for toddlers can be:
- Wake up time and morning routine including milk/cereal
- Free play
- Art and craft
- 15-minute walk outside in fresh air in a deserted spot or just make them stand in the patio/balcony if you have one
- Snack and educational activity like legos, counting, singing ABC, etc, doing puzzles, etc.
- 30 minute physical activity – walk/bike/slide (indoors) jumping/dancing…
- Dinner: this is a great time to sit together and eat. it may take time but trust me, it is fun.
- Free play – 20-30 minutes depending on time you give them dinner. I give an early dinner around 6-6:15, allow them to play for 30-40 minutes while we wind up kitchen and prepare for next day, and then ready for bed at 8. We always try to do all our house work when kids are awake for multiple reasons. One, it gives us some “US” time when kids sleep. Second, kids can see us working ad taking care of household chores.
Arts and Crafts
There are several resources on youtube and multiple websites that provide you with resources on various arts and crafts activities. However, with twins as energetic as mine, arts and crafts can be messy and time consuming. And when you are on a office schedule, giving that time for arts and crafts can be challenging. I try to do simple activities with them and here is my list:
- Stone Painting: Pick up stones from your backyard. Clean them up a night before. Then give it to them for painting and provide some stars and glitter to work on. Try to give only two colors, and one color glitter. I made my twins sit next to me for this activity. I kept ay eye on them while studying for my exam. i always give my twins exactly same color and glitters to avoid any conflict. Keep a cloth near by to give to them for cleanup.
- Origami: Great way to teach your toddlers shapes and number of sides in triangle, square, etc. It helps them to sit at one place and develops then fine motor skills.
- Food platter: Give them various beans/lentils and ask them to glue it on a paper plate. Repeat names as they glue it. You can even give them pasta, noodles, etc to paste and then paint later on.
- Dollar Tree Kits: Dollar tree caries several painting kits of animals, birds, depending on the season. You can use those as well.
- Some other art supplies which you can use with minimal supervision:
My twins love to be in the kitchen with me. So, I have turned this into an opportunity of keeping them engaged. And with few things listed below, trust me, I have managed to engage them for more than 30-40 minutes at a stretch. Here are some tricks you can use with your toddler:
- Sink time: I have a very small kitchen. And with two kids dancing around me, I have to ensure they stay at one place and more important stay safe in the kitchen. When I know I have to work on something longer, I fill up the sink with water. Sometime, they put spoons and cups in the water, sometimes, I just add bubbles. And they simply love this activity.
- Vegetable sorting: When we organise our grocery, I give them onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and leafs to sort and put them in their respective containers/bags.
- Vegetable and Fruit Cutting: I make them stand with me when I cut my vegetables and fruits. I give them their “play” knife and a cutting board. They pretend to cut the veggies and fruits. I usually give them the stuff I want them to eat as well, like tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, Diakon, Spinach, Cottage Cheese, apple, grapes, etc.
- Natural Play Dough: When I make the dough to making bread (roti), I give them some to play with along with a rolling pin. I also bake the dough they have rolled to show them how it came. They often happily eat it also. 🙂
- Seeking things: If they are in a mood to help me, I ask them to fetch “stuff” from the refrigerator or from the pantry, which I know they can without any danger. For example, “can you please get me one tomato from the fridge.” Now, I have twins, so I have to always think of two things they both can pull out from the fridge. 🙂
In these tough times, going out to a park or for a playdate it not possible and neither recommended. So, here are few things you can do with your toddlers to keep them healthy and active:
- Fix a time: allocate a fix time for morning and evening physical routine. I usually take my kids for a walk in the sun in the morning from 11-11:30. Then, again in the evening from 4:45-5:45 pm. Step out if possible.
- Bunny Hop: Everyone has pillow covers. Take your pillow covers, put on some music (audio only) and then jump little bunnies, jump, jump, jump.
- Indoor Slide: My kids love this slide given by their aunt. It is great way to get some climbing in: Little Tikes First Slide (Red/Blue) – Indoor / Outdoor Toddler Toy. There are various versions of the slide which you can choose from.
- Trampoline or Jumpers: This is another way to get some jump, fun, and exercise, all in together within the constraints. Here is the one I really like – Trampoline and Pogo Jumpers.
- Hanging bar: We have a hanging bar at home, which my husbands uses a lot with them to hang and have some fun and at the same time build strength. If you cannot order it, be creative and find a spot at home they can hang on to.
You don’t want to miss this opportunity to teach them basics to be ready for preschool. Make a goal that you want to achieve in the next two-three months and then try to plan your activities around it. For example, my goal is to teach them 1-10 counting. So, I usually use it all the time while they are outside, in kitchen, or just lying on my lap. Some of my educational goals include:
- ABCs and Hindi Language Letters
- Numbers both in English and Hindi
- Potty Training
- Word Associations
- Independently get ready
- Laundry Folding: I love involving my kids in daily household chores. Yes, it takes time and patience but it is a great way to engage them. Usually when I am at my laptop, I give them the laundry basket with few clothes and they get busy folding for almost 20-30 minutes.
- Cleaning up: Well, this does not work well with my twin girls, they always end up creating more mess than a clean up. But I think that is fine, as far as they understand the concept. I also usually organise closets, their art room, cubbies along with them. They usually don’t help much but then I always want them to see how I do it. Eventually I know they are learning when they tell my husband to keep things in place!
These are difficult and stressful times. But if we can create an environment for ourselves where we can work peacefully and kids can play and develop as usual, wouldn’t that be nice? It may take some time to set up things, but trust me it is worth it!
Hang in there my friends. We are all in it together. Be positive, stay healthy, and keep praying!