It’s been four official weeks of lockdown in the UK now and if like me, you have a toddler to entertain, the days can feel long and the nights short! You may feel like you’re losing your sanity and also running out of ways to keep the tiny human occupied! So here are my top tips for getting through and things to do (no Pinterest-perfect planned out day’s here I’m afraid!). I’ll share my top 10 tips for you – and then a few ideas for things to do with the little ones (in case you’re stuck for activities!):
Tips for you:
- Try to shower (or at least brush your hair) every day! You may feel like this is pointless some days, particularly as you have no-where to go and no-one to see, but I promise it will make you feel better!
- Be kind to yourself! There is no point comparing yourself to all those ‘instamums’ that have a perfectly prepped routine with a whole ton of pinterest activities lined up for their tiny human – if that’s not how you do things, it’s just going to make you feel crappy and under pressure! You don’t need to put yourself under any additional pressure right now.
- Schedule ‘you’ time. Whatever that looks like. For me, I’ve started doing my ‘Headspace’ app when I go to bed. It’s 10 minutes! Everyone has 10 minutes to spare (I don’t always manage to get through the whole thing as I usually fall asleep before it finishes!). The key thing here is to allow yourself time to ‘switch off’.
- Restrict your news/social media time. Ok, so this one I’m bad at; mainly my insta-scrolling; but I have started to restrict my news time. We tend to watch the 5pm briefing and that’s it. Those first couple of weeks, I felt so overwhelmed by all the ‘deaths’ and ‘depressing’ news – I know it’s a reality, but in order to stay calm and get through this crazy time we’re living in, no good can come from being in a heightened state of vigilence all day, every day.
- Be realistic with what you can achieve. I start most days with big plans for trying to clean, entertain the little man, blow-dry my hair properly, read, write a blog, cook a meal from scratch – but in reality that doesn’t actually happen. We have a loose structure to our day which mainly consists around meal and nap times. In case it’s helpful, this is our rough routine (our little one is 16 months):
- 6:30am – Wake up (Oh how I wish this was later but that’s what time little man wakes up! He’ll have milk, we’ll have a cup of tea and then we usually watch Disney+ til breakfast time.
- 8:00am – Breakfast
- 10:30am – Snack time
- 12:00noon – Lunch time
- 12:30ish – Nap time (this usually lasts 2 hours if we’re lucky!) – This is my time then to do things I want/need to get done.
- 3:00pm – Snack
- 4:30pm – Dinner
- 6:00pm – Daily walk
- 6:30pm – Milk then bath
- 7:00pm – Bedtime (can take 15-45 mins to get him to go to sleep)
- Cry if you need to! I’ll be honest, I’ve had days where I’ve felt so emotional that all I can do is cry it out – partly this is the uncertainty and anxiety over the current situation we’re all in, it’s partly grief from losing my Mum last month and it’s partly my pregnancy hormones! The thing I have found helps the most is to cry it out and to talk it through. You need to find the person you feel safe to talk it through with – I’m lucky my husband is that person for me, but at times, I also just want to talk to my girl-friends with a ‘non-alcoholic’ glass of wine (or a cup of tea!). Bottling it up for me personally just makes me feel worse – it makes me feel way more crabby, I get more snappy and far more irritable. It is ok to feel upset and overwhelmed, these are unprecedented times, but most importantly make sure you have support around you.
- Remember this is about team work! Not necessarily you and your significant other – your team is whoever you want it to be! As I said, these are unprecedented times and we all have to remember we’re in it together – your team might be you and your little people, parents, siblings, partner, neighbours, friends – but whoever it is, remember you can help each other through these difficult times. Having just gone through losing my mum, my sister and I agreed that we would have yin and yang days – some days, she’d call me in tears and I could cheer her up/speak sense – other days, it would be the other way round. No one has this all figured out; we’re all just winging it.
- Do not compare yourselves to others! I read a great ‘letter from a teacher’ yesterday that I’ll share below. Social media is filled with parents absolutely nailing the home-schooling routine (or at least, they are in their social media squares). Remember, social media is a snippet of someones life that they want you to see. This is not always a true representation of their every day. It’s so important not to compare yourself. You have to find your own way through – use those accounts to give you inspiration, but do not feel that they are doing it better than you, or that you are failing. You are doing everything you can to get you and your family through each day as calmly and as positively as you can.
- Hydrate! Honestly this is the thing I struggle most with! I forget to drink enough through the day. It’s silly really, as we are literally doing nothing but I forget! My phone reminds me every two hours to drink – and I still don’t do it! Hydrate!
- Try to get out in the fresh air every day. We are allowed to go out for exercise once a day according to government guidelines. I really do encourage you to do this. Even if just for 10 minutes. The fresh air (and the sunshine we’ve been so fortunate to be getting right now!) will do you the world of good. You don’t have to go for a run, you don’t have to go for a bike ride – you could literally walk around the block, or up and down your garden – or just sit in your garden and feel the sun on your face – either way, just 10 minutes a day will make you feel better than being stuck indoors all day.
Activity ideas for your little ones:
- Clean with them. I hate housework, I find it boring – but I’ve also started doing this when little man is awake because he finds it really fun. Vacuuming the lounge is great fun – we put spotify on, dance along to Disney Hits and he shouts at the hoover. When I dust, he pinches the cloth from me and tries to join it. Ok – so it’s not a ‘kid’ activity, but it kills two birds with one stone!
- Dance Party. My little boy is a bit too little to do the Joe Wicks PE or the CosmicKids Yoga (I tried…) so instead, we find kids zumba on youtube (I’ve linked his particular favourite!) and we have a dance party! This is my favourite thing to do – he’s a proper little groover and it releases lots of positive endorphins for both of us.
- Painting. This one gets really messy BUT he loves it. I try to do this once a week. It’s also a great way to make cards for your relatives/loved ones that you’re not seeing at the moment!
- Baking. Ok this one has been more about the fact I was struggling to get a food-shop delivery (and we’d been self-isolating) so I made a whole load of gingerbread men! 95 to be exact!! It was so easy to do (I literally threw all the ingredients in the food processor!) and it meant that I had little snacks for him. They last ages (especially with that many!) in an airtight container, and you’ll save yourself a lot as they are far cheaper (and healthier!) to make at home than the shop-bought brands. I promise this is the only ‘insta worthy’ activity we’ve done though!
- Disney+ Absolute genius from Disney to release their subscription service right as we entered lockdown. This is a daily activity for us. It’s been so great watching all the old classics, he particularly loves the musical ones as he dances along.
- #Drawwithrob This is one I only got into yesterday and little man is a bit small to do this. My sister and my niece have been doing this most days and it was her that introduced me (thanks Sis!!). I’m no Picasso, but I really enjoyed it and my little one finds my drawings hilarious – I’ve posted my pictures below.
- Reading. I love reading to our little boy. He also loves books, which is great. Last week whilst hubby fitted the upstairs stair-gate, we read in little man’s nursery for over an hour. His favourites are “Zog”, “Guess How Much I Love You”, “Hairy McClary” and “We’re going on a bear hunt”. We also try to read through our ‘animal’ books every day and practice the sounds, colours and numbers.
- Climbing. Ok so this one gives me proper fear but, he loves to climb so as much as we can and as safely as we can, we let him! He literally climbs on the table, the sofa, his toy-box, his easel……you name it, he climbs it! When properly vacuuming the lounge, I take all the sofa cushions off (we have modular sofa) and throw them into the middle of the lounge, he loves to jump on these and hubby also fashions a soft-play from the cushions of our outdoor furniture – I feel a little better as they are at least a soft landing if he falls.
- Bike rides. If you like getting out for a bike ride, we have the WeeRide seat which is suitable from 12-36 months. He absolutely loves it. It goes on hubby’s bike and we’ve been trying to go out for 10k a couple of times a week. He sings and chats the whole way and he’s even slept a bit better after a few of the outings!
- Cuddles. I love having cuddles with little man. As strange a time as this is for us adults, it is also incredibly weird for our little people. He has gone from a routine of being at nursery three days a week and at home for two days with just mummy, two days with mummy and daddy – to home seven days a week without his little friends, his key workers and not able to see anyone except for Mummy & Daddy. At 16 months, he’s too young to understand and this has resulted in a number of frustrated tantrums, mainly I think because he is so bored! So cuddles are not only good to comfort you, but they also make your little ones feel safe and secure. Also, lets be honest, they are likely to have a shelf-life so getting as many cuddles as you can now, can only be a good thing! I’m sure when he’s 16, the last thing he’ll want is to cuddle his mummy!
I hope you’ve found some of these tips/ideas helpful. I’d love to hear what you think or if there’s anything else you would add to this list?
Stay safe and look after you and yours xx