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Surviving the lockdown with a toddler.

After speaking with some parents of toddlers over the last few weeks it seems that many are struggling with the changes that are happening right now and they are missing their weekly fix of playgroups, nursery and being around other parents, and for some are trying to juggle working from home too.

Sound familiar? Read on for my top tips on making it through lockdown with a toddler.

1) Routine, routine, routine!

You may not be attending your usual groups or going to nursery but keeping your little ones usual routine with regards to sleep and meal times will massively help.

All toddlers thrive on routine and taking them out of this can lead to changes in behaviour and cause problems with their sleep.

It is a good idea for you to try and keep your own routine fairly normal too so get up and ready for the day as you usually would. If you are working from home this will be easier to do but you can probably leave the work clothes in the wardrobe!

Depending on your situation, you may need to chat with your workplace about time where you can be with your little one and so having their routine still in place will help you to come up with a workable plan.

2) Activities

One of the most asked questions is 'what activities can I do at home?'

There are play and learning opportunities everywhere without the need for lots of structured activities. I would suggest maybe just one a day. Your child may be missing their nursery but you are not an Early Years setting and at nursery child led play is the way. This unstructured play allows children to use their problem solving skills and imaginations. It is also a good way for them to learn independence, so keep it simple and don't overthink it.

There are lots of structured activity ideas online for inspiration though, along with story time and music and movement videos. Depending on your little ones attention span these are a great way to keep them active and engaged in something that they are not dependent on you for.

When the weather allows, get your little one out in the garden. Most children love being outside and there are many different toys they can play with and activities they can do that they wouldn't do inside.

3) Get out for a walk.

We are restricted to getting out just once a day for exercise so pick a time that fits around your little one and get out in the fresh air. Fresh air is not just good for your little one but good for you too.

4) Keep sociable

While you can't have an actual cuppa with your Mum friends, there are many ways that you can do so virtually, so schedule in a weekly catch up.

Maintaining relationships and checking in on one another is important for your mental well being and as in real life, having time with other Mum's means you can share new ideas and advice and it is reassuring to know you are all in the same boat.

5) Have realistic expectations

Being realistic about what you are able to manage is important, so don't put pressure on yourself to be like other parents.

Your child will benefit just as much from 15 minute bursts of you playing with them as they will from you spending an entire morning with them. Quality over quantity is key. If the time you are spending with them involves you doing chores, work emails or checking social media, that is not quality time. If you know that you only have short amounts of time in-between work calls or anything else, make that time quality by giving your child your undivided attention for the entirety.

6) Putting it into practice

Try and keep to a similar routine each day. Think carefully about when is a good time for structured play or going out for a walk - will your little one be tired? Is it too close to meal times? and when it is best to have some unstructured play or TV time and plan accordingly.

If your little one is used to being out at groups or attends a nursery or other childcare setting they will be used to doing more in the morning than in the afternoon. Structured activities therefore, may work best in the morning and daily exercise and unstructured play better in the afternoon. This is only a guide though, so do what works for you and your family best.

Lockdown won't last forever and as difficult as it is, try not to worry too much about your little one missing out. They won't remember this time and actually, they have everything they need at home.

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