kids Life Parenting

When Life Hands you Lemons…

Make Lemonade! Actually, that’s probably the one thing we have not done during our COVID-19 quarantine! I did bake brownies with Maggie once and that was enough fun for me.

As I mentioned in my last post, with Maggie home from daycare from mid March to mid June, I knew we had to come up with some fun ideas to keep her toddler brain occupied. While she’s not one to sit and watch anything for a long period of time on TV, she is OBSESSED with the phone and iPad and watching YouTube kids (Hello, Blippi!) and I knew that I did not want her to have too much of that.

My mom got me these two books – Play and Learn Toddler Activities Book  by Andrea Thayer and the Rainy Day Toddler Activity Book by Krissy Bonning-Gould which contain a lot of great ideas for toddlers and even older kids. I utilized those as well as many Instagram accounts for toddler ideas and sensory play. I was also fortunate that her daycare teachers sent a long a lot of fun activities.

So, I really really suck at crafts. Like, anything I make rarely turns out the way I see it in a picture. But you know what? Who cares. I was doing it with a toddler who isn’t super verbal so she couldn’t make fun of me anyway. I could tell the dog was sometimes judging me though.

I started to get crafty with my ideas and learning – we had the very hungry Caterpillar book so I cut out shapes and had her make a caterpillar. She loves the Wheels on the Bus song so we did a bus craft. Ditto for the Crayons books – we made a crayons craft. I also made my own Play-Doh (and then bought actual play-doh). All the time I was thinking to myself: WHO AM I???? WHAT HAVE I BECOME?? and then racking my brain for the next day’s activities.

Of course, I never forced her to do anything – if she didn’t want to do a craft, she didn’t have to. If she wanted to play independently (which was rare, she usually liked me right there), she could. These were just things I had to get us to nap time or bed time. For us, if Maggie’s bored, it usually leads to meltdowns…


Here are some non-crafty ideas:

  • A water table is a MUST toy for you – Why? Because you can use it INSIDE OR OUT. I pulled it out of storage in late April and let her play with it in the basement and she loved throwing her toys in there. When it got warmer, it went outside for water playtime.
  • Plastic Eggs – We pulled these out before Easter and she would do little Easter Egg hunts.
  • Walks Walks Walks. She’s only now starting to get interested in digging in the dirt, playing with rocks (UGGGHHH) but she loves being outside. The downside is she’s not really into her stroller anymore so walking her and Tucker at the same time is difficult for one person.

What are some ideas you have that have successfully kept your kid’s attention? Let me know in the comments section!

kids Life Parenting

Parenting in a Pandemic

Minus being a dog mom (which I do think trains you well for being a parent of children when you have a needy dog like I do), I’m relatively new to this whole parenting thing. I always say I’m a “new mom”, despite the fact that my daughter just turned 2 because quite frankly, everything is freaking new. 

Back in March when the world stopped turning and all our workplaces and daycares and schools shut down, I was both relieved and terrified. Relieved that we had the ability to work from home and that she was too young to process anything going on. Terrified as to how we were going to handle it all with a then 20 month old toddler (not to mention her easily excited 6 year old golden retriever brother). And of course, I was terrified about all of the unknown of COVID-19. I mean, where in the parenting guidebook is the chapter “How to parent in a Pandemic?” Is that covered under “how not to shit your pants?” 

I have learned that my little one thrives when there is a routine (as does her Mama), so I sprang into action. Back in January, I had actually taken a picture of her daycare “schedule,” because I am a helicopter Mom and having an App for Daycare just isn’t enough for this woman…nope, I had to get the schedule too. Well, I modeled our days at home after that schedule. I started to come up with themes and crafts and stories. Every night or every other night, I’d come up with activities for the next day so we weren’t flying completely blind. 

My husband and I worked to take turns parenting for the morning and afternoon unless there was crazy stuff happening at work because us just doing an hour on, an hour off was too jarring for her. I ordered lots of new toys and art supplies. We went on lots of walks. We did Zoom with my parents. And fortunately, her daycare provided 3 days a week of Zoom storytimes, music times and Shabbat that was a half hour each morning.  We did this until June 22 when her daycare reopened partially and she was able to go back. 

I make this sound so easy breezy, when in reality, here are some things that happened:
* She stopped sleeping through the night. So did the dog. 

* I felt so stressed from work, coming up with activities, parenting and dealing with the scaries of the world that I would cry frequently, worry and stress.

*Not every activity was a hit, we didn’t follow the schedule to a T (what toddler does?) and sometimes naps were not in a crib but on one of us.

 * I ended up taking the COVID leave that work offered because I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it all and not have meltdowns. Even with my husband,  let’s be honest – the bulk of childcare rests squarely on Mom’s shoulders. 

BUT because I try to be positive, here are some really awesome things that happened 

*Hello! We got extra time with her in a time of her life that goes by in a blink of an eye. 

*While there was a lot to balance, I didn’t feel rushed at home like I would normally when it’s time to go to work, daycare, dinnertime, bathtime, etc… the commute was easy and hello yoga pants uniform!* I got to see the awesome work her daycare does on a daily basis with their Zoom calls. It was so cool to see her “interact” with the programming. They were seriously lifesavers. 

*I got to see her progress on skills and was much more focused on quality time. *I got to be really creative and some of the things I found out to do were so fun!

Now that she’s back at daycare and I’m physically at work, I still struggle if we are doing the right thing, but daycare has been going above and beyond with their safety protocols. I also struggle with the fact that I could pass it on to her because of people not following protocols. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands. 

Even with things opening back up here in PA, we are still not going anywhere and and sometimes that’s really hard on the weekend because I am back to trying to come up with things to occupy a toddler’s time. Thank goodness for a mostly shady backyard and an inflatable pool and water table! I do wonder if she’s like, why aren’t I going into stores or out to eat? Yes, those places are open but we are choosing to be extra vigilant. 
In my next post, I’ll document some of the craft ideas and other things we have done and the hits and misses. For now, for those still stuck at home, give yourself GRACE. You are doing the best you can. You are MORE than enough for your little one, for your family, for friends.