Hi, I’m Janna and I’m the founder of this website. Though I’ve been a working mom for as long as I remember, I realized it’s still a challenge to work and watch the kids at the same time. So during this time that we are asked to stay at home, I decided to write based on my experience. There a lot of things you will find on the Internet in terms of what your child can do while at home. I think the key is being open to trial and error. I have two active boys, Matti, who is 8, and Rocco, who is 4 years of age. It took a few days to see what held their attention for the longest time. Though we do so much more than these, here’s a list that I noticed they liked and had the tendency of repeating every day or so.
For some reason, this one is so exciting for them because of the sense of adventure it brought. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant because of the mess it made with the pillows and blankets. But when I watched them play, I noticed how they became creative in their storylines. I also made it a rule that when they are done fort-making, they have to put the pillows back in place. After a few rounds, they know the routine and follow it.
Before this community quarantine, my boys didn’t mind their Lego so much. But I guess since extracurricular and outdoor activities were cut, they found so much enjoyment in building. Robots, swords, and planes were a favorite. The other key was making them play it together, which was a big factor in how long it kept them entertained.
Give three tasks that they need to accomplish on that day. It’s better if there are visual materials you can make for the tasks. Some examples are: set the table once today, find a new toy to explore, or make a drawing to send photos of to grandparents. Once they finish a task, they mark it as completed on the paper. When all the tasks are done they get a star. Stars will determine their treats for the week: 30 minutes extension of bedtime, an extra snack, or their choice of activity with mom and dad on the weekend. This helps them know also that they can look forward to the weekend if they put in the extra effort.
This one will take a bit of an effort at first. I noticed, my kids won’t make books their top choice, but once I read one story to them, it will get them hooked. Since I have an older son who can already read, it also helps that he takes over reading time when I’m busy. And though this may not apply to all parents, I noticed my children tend to want to have me near them, so even if I’m busy working, they don’t mind playing on their own as long as I am in the room. I just put on my earphones and let them be. When they find their favorite books, they also read it themselves.
Surprisingly, this has been a winner during the community quarantine. My kids were hesitant at first, but when we implemented rules like fixing their bed in the morning, packing away the toys in their room instead of our helpers doing it for them, and even helping out in the kitchen, they felt involved and connected with the adults.
The key that I found works is having breaks in the day, and still investing even just one 30-minute break to join in their playtime. When I have to go back to work, I explain why I need to, and why I need their help in keeping themselves entertained. The younger one, of course, is more challenging, but having an older brother definitely helps.
But I also wanna encourage you to give your children some credit–when bored they will find ways to entertain themselves. I personally try to push back screen time because although it’s an easy solution, it also makes them more restless. I noticed that boredom allows them to be more inventive with their play–so let them be curious discoverers. If you have time on your hands and can create activities with them, here’s a guide book some friends and I created that can help you come up with the most entertaining activities for younger toddlers: Kidstarter Curious Curriculum.