manage toddlers during coronavirus -girl similing with paint on face

These days can be challenging, especially as we are staying home to protect ourselves and our loved ones during this Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing makes being a mom of young children, especially toddlers, harder than ever as your normal support structures, baby sitters, child care, grandma time, and trips and adventures in the outside world are taken away. Now, moms are more home-bound than ever. How do you possibly manage life with young children during this Coronavirus crisis?

Mommy Medicine interviewed Jessica an amazing mother of three young children ages 3 yrs, 2 yrs, and 4 months. In this video, she and Aimee, the creator of Mommy Medicine and mother of four children, give some great, real-life, creative and practical tips on how to manage life with young children during these challenging times.

1. Break up your day into manageable chunks.

The first tip is to break up your day into manageable chunks. When you wake up, maybe the kids are already screaming, and you realize that time is stretching endlessly before you. It can be overwhelming. A helpful tip is to break up your day into fifteen-minute chunks. A toddler’s attention span does not last more than ten to fifteen minutes at a time, so to save your sanity, plan on changing activities frequently. You can even schedule these changes ahead of time, which can give you a sense of control while your toddler remains happy and engaged.

You do not need to come up with a brand-new activity every fifteen minutes. Going back and forth between activities keeps the toddlers engaged and out of mischief while not being too much work for mommy. You can even schedule in chores, a short movie, and independent playtime (aka: mommy break time!). Just keep things moving, and do not put too much pressure on yourself or your toddler to complete every task the first time through.

2. Incorporate lots of learning into the day. 

Toddlers are constantly learning. They learn through play, experimenting with the world around them, and asking thousands of questions. Learning is fun for them, and as long as you keep the activities short, you can be intentional about teaching your little ones.

Basic colors, their first numbers, textures, learning to color, using chalk, etc. are all concepts a toddler can begin to understand. Watching your toddler discover and learn for the first time can be very rewarding. You can even download or purchase preschool activities and curriculum that you can go through with your child day by day. Make sure you keep it low-pressure and remember the toddler attention span is 10 to 15 minutes. Helping your child discover the world of learning can a beautiful bonding experience for both toddler and mom.

3. Get outside! 

Do not forget to get outside. It can boost everyone’s mood and help maintain sanity if you and your toddler spend time outside soaking in the sun and vitamin D, playing outdoor games, swinging on the swings, or just admiring nature. By putting outside time into your schedule as much as you can and the weather permits, your body, mind, and toddler with thank you!

4. If you’re overwhelmed, keep it simple. 

Some of you moms may be overflowing with creativity so that there is never enough time in the day to accomplish all of your ideas! But so many others feel that creativity is simply not their strong suit. Some points to remember are:

  • It doesn’t take much to entertain young children. They just want to do it with mommy!
  • Do not worry about making activities fancy, stick with the basics
  • Keep it moving. Toddlers have a short attention span, and pushing a toddler to stay on one activity much beyond fifteen minutes can end up stressful for everyone.
  • Google is your friend. The internet is full of fun and creative ideas from mommies and professionals all over the country! You do not have to come up with ideas all on your own.

Need a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing? 

Here are some mommy-approved and toddler-tested ideas discussed in the interview:

Imaginary play is perfect for toddlers’ developmental stage, and they LOVE it! 

For example, you can create a theme for the day. Take an imaginary camping trip, for example. First, you can spend 15 minutes building a pretend tent in the family room with old sheets. Next, you take a 15 minute break to do breakfast dishes. Then you go outside and take 15 minutes to make a pretend campfire complete with pretend marshmallows. You go from there to pretend bed-time in the tent for 15 minutes and maybe read a book together. Then you pretend to wake up and go for a pretend hike around the yard, looking at whatever nature you have in your back yard. The opportunities are endless!

Toddler-sized treasure hunts

Who does not like a treasure hunt? An easy way to create a low-key treasure hunt is to hide an item while your children are not looking, and then you set up clues to guide them to it. This does not need to be sophisticated. You can even cut out simple arrows from sheets of paper. Lay them down on the ground for your child to follow the direction the arrows are pointing. They will then discover the next arrow, and finally it will lead them to the toy or prize. This helps with learning how to follow directions, and understanding arrows, and it is easy, repeatable, and great fun for everyone!

Hide and seek variations

I am certain you have played hide and seek before. One of the things about creativity is that you can use it to change any game into something new with just a few tweaks. Toddlers are past the peek-a-boo stage, but hide and seek is basically the toddler version of it, and they can be entertained by this process for a surprisingly long time!

  • You can hide yourself and the toddler finds you
  • You can hide the sibling and the toddler finds him/her
  • You can hide the toy and the toddler finds it
  • You can have the toddler hide and you find him/her
  • You can hide a prize and the toddler finds it
  • And so much more!

Toddlers love water

How many of you have found your toddler outside with the hose on, laughing and happily drenching himself and everything around him with water? Yep, that happens. Toddlers innately love water, and you can take advantage of this but in a more controlled and less messy environment.

First, you can collect any water-safe small toys or items from around the house. Arrange them into groups, and give your toddler just one category at a time. Then you fill a small bowl with water, and your child will have a great time putting the small toys into the water, playing with them in the water, and splashing the water, but it is a small amount and contained. You can even put some food coloring in the water for a new experience. Like it has been said above, toddlers do not need fancy and complicated toys to have fun and be entertained!

Do not forget the classics

Do not forget toddler and young childhood basics. These are common activities that every child loves.

  • Play-dough
  • Bubbles
  • Swings
  • Bike riding
  • Board games
  • Backyard time

May the silver lining of these days be that you end up building good, new, and lasting memories with your toddler and young children. With a little creativity and breaking down the days into to manageable pieces, you really can manage life with toddlers during this global Coronavirus crisis. You got this mommy!

Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love sharing tricks, tips and strategies with our fellow moms. Send us your mommy questions you would like to see as the subject of a blog. We would love to hear from you!  Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (4/29/2020)


Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

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