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bored young girls at home laying on rug

Quarantine & Isolation Parenting Survival Tips

By Amalah

Hi Amy-

In the midst of coronavirus uproar, I’m trying to plan for the very real possibility that I’m stuck at home with my kids for a reasonable chunk of time (measured in weeks). I live in the U.S. in a state with only a couple of cases (so far), but our kids (almost 2 and 4 years) go to daycare on a University campus and the school has already talked about the possibility of closing classes – and I assume that will include child care facilities. I realize that many people spend all day every day with their children, and I definitely see the benefit of extra time with my kids, but I’m also trying to think ahead and have some ideas of activities planned. The problem is, I’m coming up totally blank aside from “play with playdough” and “make cookies.” We’re used to full-time work and child care and the kids are used to the stimulating environment of daycare.

What are (or were) your favorite at-home activities for toddler and pre-school aged kids? Especially ones that don’t require ME to be particularly crafty. And if they can be mostly hands-off on my part so myself and my partner can get some work done, even better. The idea of trying to work from home while entertaining the kids is a bit mind boggling.

Woooooooo, boy. We’re all in some uncharted territory here, aren’t we?

I’ve worked almost exclusively from home for almost my children’s entire lives, and I STILL feel woefully unprepared for the idea of 14 solid days at home with them. At this point, I can probably map out a day, maybe a day and a half, before running out of ideas to keep them off screens for 12 hours straight until their brains leak out their ears.

Manage expectations about balancing working from home and child care during social distancing

Younger kids present similar challenges, with the added problem that there’s only so long an almost-2-year-old can be left sort of…benignly unsupervised before you’re risking the possibility of an injury or a colossal household mess of some kind. I hope you (and all the parents like you) can be honest with yourselves AND your employers that “working from home” in these conditions is genuinely, really freaking difficult. If possible, start managing your boss’ expectations NOW about how productive you’d be and how much you’ll be able to get done in that time window. Assume you and your partner will essentially be trading off work and parenting time blocks throughout the day and will need to compromise a lot on whose work gets to be the day’s “priority” shift.



(Dear Employers: Any additional paid time off, even just a little, or explicitly let full-time employees drop temporarily to part-time without fear of losing their jobs? Please?)

Things to Do with Young Kids Indoor During the Coronavirus Self-Isolation Period

1. Check-out these indoor activities guides:
I actually found a really great round-up of indoor DIY activities and games that Fatherly just published, and I think it’s exactly the sort of list you were hoping I could provide. Our friends at Mommy Poppins published a guide to 100s of Activities and Resources for parents during the Coronavirus. They both wrote it first, and honestly, saved me a lot of trouble. All of their recommendations require minimal prep and specialty purchases (get like, some balloons to bat around and that’s about it), and involve some level of physical activity and exertion to keep high-energy kids from bouncing off the walls from boredom and stir-craziness. You can also find even more ideas here.

2. My personal favorite DIY idea: 
Personally, I’d also recommend getting a big roll of arts and craft paper and masking tape, then covering your dining table, kitchen counter or a wall with it every morning. Every day it can be a fresh blank canvas for markers, crayons, watercolors, finger paints, whatever art supply you feel like busting out that day. Give them a theme or just let them go nuts.

3. List of Crafts for kids at Alpha Mom: 
And of course, we have tons of wonderful craft ideas right here on Alpha Mom for when your kids are ready and willing to sit down and work on a more structured activity. These will require some supplies so maybe make a trip to a craft store your last great Huzzah For Freedom excursion. (Or order them before Amazon shuts down and life as we know it completely ceases to exist omg omg omg.)

4. More favorite easy crafts for younger kids:
My personal recommendations for younger kids would be this mini calendar printable (they can work on learning the months of the year and draw a picture that “goes” with each month), a DIY bird feeder (fun and easy and just the right amount of mess), and the four-leaf clover stone hunt game (timely! and an activity that you can do over and over again, both inside the house and out).

And maybe have your kids make these delightful apple-shaped stress balls as presents for their daycare teachers, who will likely be dealing with a LOT of insanity once everyone returns to school after two weeks at home.

5. Get resources from the teachers:
(Speaking of their daycare, if it’s not too late, talk to their teachers and ask if you can borrow or make copies of any upcoming curriculum, worksheets, or any planned arts and craft activities!)

Final thoughts: Be Kind to Yourself

And finally: Be kind and gentle on yourself. It’s okay if you end up not particularly enjoying every preshus moment of every preshus day. It’s okay to turn on the dang TV when you need to make a phone call or take a shower or whatever. It’s okay if they end up watching a Pixar movie every day and homemade cookies turn out to be a lot of microwave popcorn instead.

Check-in with your partner and give each other space and breathing breaks, and don’t skip grown-up together with them after the kids go to bed. (Hopefully on the early side, after you’ve successfully managed to tire them out.)

photo source: Depositphoto/DesignPicsInc

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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