A year is a long time, especially for a child, so if you are the parent of a toddler, you will know all too well that they aren’t the easiest of lockdown companions. Here are just a few things I’ve learned after spending more quality time with my daughter than I had anticipated in 2022-21. Hopefully you will have learned a few valuable lessons along the way too:
- Toddlers love to be outside: The more outdoor activities you can find for your little one to do, the better. They are captivated by the simple things in nature such as fallen bird feathers, sticks and blades of grass. Time outside helps them to sleep more soundly, nap better and lets them release some of the unlimited energy they have when they are awake. Help them to embrace the little things in life and this will serve them well in their future. In a nutshell, if the weather is decent, get them out in the fresh air, even if it’s just in your back garden.
- Always have snacks in the house: The worst thing you can do is run out of snacks when you have a small child in tow. They are like tiny machines that are impossible to fill, so be sure that if you are house-bound because it’s raining, that you are fully stocked with fruit, veggie sticks, oaty bars and toddler friendly crisps. ‘I’m hungry’ will be the soundtrack to your day unless you have regular bites on offer so be prepared.
- TV is your saviour: If you need a break from entertaining- an episode of Peppa Pig or Hey Duggee might just come to your rescue. While you shouldn’t encourage your toddler to watch too much TV, a well timed show will give you both a bit of respite and break up the day. And you shouldn't feel guilty about it!
- Toddlers like to help: If you can- get your toddler involved in little jobs around the house like helping you to fill the washing machine, empty the dishwasher or wipe down surfaces. They won’t do as good a job as you but they like to believe they are helping- so encourage them to. This also means you can get your tasks done without leaving them unattended.
- Rain is not the end of the world: If you look outside and it’s raining- don’t be too downhearted- once the rain stops- the most magnificent creations are left behind- muddy puddles. Toddlers are suckers for puddles- muddy or clear, they don’t really have a preference- so put on those wellies and get splashing! They will think you are the best parent in the world if you do.
- Toddlers hate the shops: Try to save any supermarket shopping or otherwise for when your partner can stay at home with your little one. That way you can browse rather than feeding your toddler all your snacks in the first five minutes and bribing them with new toys just to get down every one of the aisles. Shopping is stressful enough without the added pressure of cleaning down the trolley before they touch it, getting your toddler to use hand sanitizer and stopping them from using your mask like a slingshot.
- You don’t need to have a new toy delivered to your home every day/week: I made this mistake in the first few weeks but you don’t have to send yourself spiralling into debt in order to keep your toddler happy. What they want is your attention and your company, not another piece of plastic. There are plenty of things you can do with your child that don’t cost money and they will enjoy themselves just as much. You can find ideas online or if you’re really struggling, this book is a great tool to give you some inspiration.
Following a year of lockdown and home-schooling, six in 10 children would now describe their parents as their best friends, with 28% rating their parent’s play skills as better than their friends after spending more time with them than ever before. Interestingly, the study also found it’s not just children who think of their parents as their best friends; 71% of mums and dads feel the same way about their offspring. Despite all the pressures they have faced during lockdown and home schooling, six in 10 parents (62%) also admitted they would miss their child being around the house....