mum life, Parenting

How I’m Surviving Lockdown as a Toddler Mum

I’ve been thinking a lot about the UK lockdown lately, and my very mixed feelings about it all. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy this somewhat forced family/household time but that doesn’t mean its easy – especially if you work full time and have a toddler.

The main way I’ve been trying to survive is by trying to stick to some sort of routine. This is easier said than done for a lot of people, I know, but generally toddlers will still want about 11/12 hours of sleep at night and three square meals a day (and umpteen snacks too!) so we’ve continued to plan around that for the most part, keeping bedtime as close to normal as possible. Although I’m not a savage, I’m not waking him up before 7am when there’s no nursery to go to!

Stick-to-routine-toddler-mum

I don’t dispute this is harder to stick to for those with infants, older children or multiple kids (you are walking superheroes every day never mind during a lockdown. Send me your address and I’ll post you a medal). With that in mind it brings me to the next thing I think helps me cope: my privileged situation.

I am under absolutely no illusion that I’ve actually managed to get a pretty good deal out of this lock down situation. One toddler, who sticks to a routine for the most part, my full time job allowing me to work from home and a partner with the same means that we’re not worrying about paying the bills or losing all sense of time and day. The structure is comforting, although the grass definitely looks greener when the sun comes out and families are spending their time together in the garden while we’re stuck in and draining all of Sky’s Internet capacity.

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Which is why I also try to stick to my core working hours where possible. As I said, its office hours so whilst I’m meant to be working 8.30 till 5 I like to ensure for the most part it’s kept that way so we can still have family time around that. Of course if my toddler is throwing a tantrum or just needs some love and extra attention at 2.45, then you’ll be sure I’ll be with him and make up my work time later.

One of my big positives about the lockdown is the lack of commute. I lose at least two hours every work day in traffic, so I’ve held onto this extra time and cherished it. Normally, I’ll only see my little man for half an hour in the morning and an hour at night during the week (I see him less than I see the traffic) so there’s no way I’m complaining at all this extra time I get to see him and spend with him – even if I have to concentrate on work for a lot of it.

During regular commute time I like to still ensure I’m awake in the morning (although I give myself a bit more of a lie in than normal, I’m not a robot) and make the most of the early morning – particularly if the males in the house are still asleep. I’ll tidy a bit, exercise in some way (the earlier I can be outside to run like Phoebe Buffay, the less other daily exercisers will see me) and take my time getting ready in the morning. Sometimes I’ll make everyone breakfast and be like that picture perfect mum and others I’ll just make myself a strong coffee and sit quietly till they get up!

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I’ve also taken to cooking more of the dinners now I’m home. One thing I’ve been totally spoilt for since Travis was born is the cooking. For most of Craig’s shift pattern, he’s home at teatime with my dinner usually waiting on me coming in, so I’ve taken back some of the responsibility now I’m home at that time. I do enjoy cooking and there’s no doubt I’m the food prepper in terms of the big shop and planning for the week, although its not usually me making it!

With my extra evening hour I also like to spend more quality time with my little man. Whether thats playing with his favourite toys, doing something new or simply sitting together to watch his favourite cartoons and eat our dinner, I’m cherishing this precious lockdown time.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and roses, and lockdown has absolutely had me in tears at points but I think the routine and the positivity definitely help. I’ve found myself wondering if I’m doing enough for my little man, as I’ve not been doing any sort of home schooling because he’s only two and I’m not a teacher, but I don’t want him to be left behind when he does go back to nursery.

Similarly I’ve been stressing myself trying to potty train him because, quite frankly, I thought he would be ready by now and every mum ever has suggested that this is the perfect time to do it. We’ve invested in all the right tools and books and charts but honestly it’s so hard to keep on top of “do you need a wee?” and sitting on the potty (him, not me) when you’re knee deep in a monthly report.

And then there’s all the household stuff. Some parents have managed clearouts, redecorated rooms, redone their gardens and built their kids tree houses or reached Mrs Hinch levels of cleaning. I’m just barely scraping by at the normal rushed level of housework and so it makes me feel a bit inadequate. But after a bit of reflection, usually in a nice long bath, I’m reminded that everybody’s situation is different, and that not all parents cope the same way. Heck even in this household no two parents are coping the same way! So I try not to be too hard on myself and all the things I think (or Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest thinks) I should be doing and just try to make sure everyone is happy and safe.

I just have to remember that when there’s a wee guy having a full blown tantrum when I’m on a conference call, or all my friends are posting their home schooling pictures, or my boss asks for something at 5.15pm or when my toddler wakes four times in the night or when we can’t have friends and family in our home or when the dishes aren’t done…. you get the picture!

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baby and toddler activities, Free things to do with toddlers

Indoor games for toddlers

So this is the first time I’ve really felt inspired to write all year, mainly due to planning an impending wedding which was promptly cancelled at the 11th hour due to COVID-19 restrictions! Suddenly, I’ve found myself with some spare time now I’m not organising table plans or making decorations and favours.

It has been nice to spend a bit more time with my little man now there’s no commuting and no nursery. Its taken a bit of adjusting and thinking of new and creative – and preferably free – things to do with a 2 year old around the house. So here are the games for toddlers we have found ourselves playing during this government lockdown…

Cars in a bucket
Cars, paw patrol figures, really any little toys fit the bill here. We’ve been racing cars off the end of the couch, trying to get them into a bucket placed not far away. The Paw Patrol pups all jump off. Pretty simple, doesn’t require anything more than existing toys and a bucket, and helps with motor skills/aim and accuracy etc. It keeps our wee man amused for ages and breathes new life into his every day toys.

Making our own soft play
One of the big killers of having a toddler in lockdown is that they dont understand why they cant do things like go go soft play (or anywhere else for that matter) like usual. Its heartbreaking trying to explain and watching the little man get upset, so we started to improvise. We had a pop up tent and ball pool that kept Travis amused when he was about 8-18 months, and which hasn’t been looked at in over a year. I’m so glad I didn’t give it away as its been a good soft play alternative. Other things to substitute are cushions and pillows on the floor with boxes to climb and hide in. A paddling pool with toys in makes for a good ball pool alternative too.

Dens
Everything is better in a den isn’t it? We’ve made dens from things lying around the house like blankets and chairs and then proceeded to play in them, sometimes with his favourite toys, sometimes watching cartoons on his tablet. Other times we’ll incorporate the other games like hide and seek or even have a picnic in it.
We’ve also started moving on to making dens for his cars out of building blocks. The possibilities are endless!

Sorting
Another little game we’ve made out of regular toys is sorting. It’s maybe a little of my OCD coming through, but dont things just look nice when they are lined up or put in some sort of order? We have been playing at sorting things by colour and by size. Then we count them – how many blue cars are there? How many little building blocks and how many bug ones? This counting and organising is about as close as we get to home schooling!

Hide and seek
Travis has just begun to understand the concept of hide and seek, though he doesn’t like doing the counting and waiting. He also loves to go and find hidden items, whether its toy figures, a missing jigsaw piece or an errant dummy!
This is also great practice for any easter egg hunts that may be happening over the long weekend.

 

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