Parenting During A Pandemic
I know we are all feeling it in one way or another. The stress this pandemic is causing. I believe some of it is exaggerated (not the severity of the virus or how contagious it is), but it is serious no matter what. Some of us fear contracting the virus, either because of our own health or because of the health of our loved ones, and some of us fear the unknown, such as when we'll be able to go back to work or when we will be able to buy basic food items, like flour and rice. Personally, I'm in the latter group. I do not fear contracting the virus, but I do fear the unknown. I am taking all the necessary precautions and practicing good hygiene, even though I don't worry too much about contracting the virus. Also, I am EXTREMELY fortunate that I do not have to worry about my employment status, even though my place of employment is shut down for a couple of weeks, or maybe longer. But I do worry about the state of our grocery stores. There is no denying that some people out there are panic-buying items, leaving little to none for those in need. I am not part of a vulnerable group, but I do still need to feed my family and I need diapers and wipes for my daughter. And that's has me stressed. Slowly, the stores are restocking and the panic buying is decreasing, but it's still stressful. Who knows, for example, when we'll have hand sanitizer back on the shelves. Or disinfectant wipes. I think it'll be a looooong time. And that has me stressed. Seeing those things on the shelves would return some sense of normalcy.
On top of the stress I feel about the unknown, I'm stressed about having my daughter at home with me every day, potentially for a month. Our city is under a month-long stay-at-home order, and my daughter's daycare is continuing its operations for families that fall under "essential workers," and I do not fall under that category currently. Once my place of employment reopens, whenever that will be, I will fall under the "essential" category listed in the order. Until then, however, I will be responsible for educating my child. I recognize this is true for many, many, many parents right now, and I am sure those of us tasked with the responsibility of educating toddlers have it easier. But maybe not. Older kids are a little better at entertaining themselves. I have no idea how I would go about properly homeschooling a child, and I commend those of you who do. Though I know home schooling is different from crisis schooling. So it's hard and new for everyone. I'm sure there are stay at home moms rolling their eyes at such a stress, since they're home and do this every single day. I have an insane amount of respect for stay at home moms, as well as a huge admiration for them. However, I have never wanted to be one, and I have always known that I am not cut out to be one. So I'm stressed about it. It has nothing to do with not enjoying the quality time I get to spend with my daughter. I cherish it. But this is different. Not only do I have to keep her entertained constantly (or hope she is happy playing by herself) because my husband is actually working and needs to focus, but I am also responsible for keeping her mind developing and evolving, and I do not feel as equipped to do it as the child care center is. They are SO good at it. At this point, we have survived the first week, and it hasn't been TOO bad, thanks to some nice weather finally. Additionally, I have ordered some items from Amazon to keep my child entertained and learning. I ordered flash cards and "paint with water" books, among other things. I hope they will be stimulating enough. My daughter has such a wonderful time at daycare, and the teachers there are true educators, and they develop their kids' social, physical, and mental skills every single day. And, in my opinion, the socialization aspect is huge. I can tell she loves it. She loves seeing her friends and her teachers, and I am sad for her that she will miss out on that for a couple of weeks. I also think her attention is better maintained at daycare, and she comes home more worn out. When it's arts and crafts time, for example, her entire class is doing it. At home, she's easily distracted by shiny objects so arts and crafts time is short lived. And I don't really wear her out enough, so her naps are likely to be affected if she's not tired enough.
I have been keeping her to her schedule during the week so it'll feel to her like she's getting up and at 'em to start a regular day. We're definitely lazier on the weekends--we stay in jammies, for example--but we do keep to a strict sleep schedule. On weekdays, however, I get her up at regular time and change her into an actual outfit. I try to do a lot of the things they do at daycare, but, again, she gets distracted easily. I do still try though! Some days are more challenging than others, depending on how bored she is. I do my best not to get frustrated, but this takes A LOT of patience, which isn't really one of my virtues. I have become more patient since having my daughter, but sometimes it just wears thin. It's unavoidable. During her naps, I usually work out because it's the only time of day I am really able to do it. By the time her bed time rolls around, I'm just too spent. Sometimes, though, I elect to take care of myself and take a nap or just chill while she's napping. I need it. After all, I need to make sure I'm in my best form, too, and, if a nap to recharge is what does it, so be it.
While I do try to do a lot of activities they do at daycare, including arts and crafts, reading, singing, and taking walks, I'm not too hard on myself or her and just kind of go with how the day feels. I don't have a set structure for how long each activity should last. But I can tell when she's losing interest in something so I'll cut an activity short and move on to something else if that happens. She doesn't really get tired of singing or reading books (or being read to). I actually love when she reads to herself because she keeps herself busy and I get a little break! Another one of her most favorite activities is eating. :) She does a lot of that! I'll be honest: we don't always keep exactly to her daycare snack schedule, though I do try. She just might get an additional snack here and there. It happens! Or she gets it later than she normally would, etc. But, if that's the worst that happens to stray off her exact schedule, I think we're doing OK.
So this is our life, and I'm sure so many others are in the same position. Do you have any experiences to share? Do you have any good ideas to keep toddlers entertained and developing? Please share!