During the circuit breaker, a lot of parents have been asking for sample schedules or tips on how to keep their children engaged during these 2 months of staying indoors.
The good news is the schools have given us all the Home E-based Learning materials with some activities for the kids whether you are in primary school or kindergarten and preschools. Here is a little idea of how you can think and structure the kind of schedule that is specific to your family dynamic and for your children. Making use a little mind-mapping method will help you with your thoughts on an appropriate schedule that is really effective for your children based on your individual home dynamics.
During this season, it is also really important to remember that a very bored child will usually create a lot of problems, and usually for toddlers, that's when you see them screaming a lot and throwing things around the house. By doing so, they are mostly expressing in their non-verbal way that they are feeling very bored, and its time for us to give them some stimulating and simple activities.
To truly enjoy parenting, it is the ability to read our children’s especially our toddlers’, their non-verbal cues.
What we want is for them to be fully engaged and well-behaved and enjoy time with us.
First, we start with the WHAT? What can you get your child to do during CB so you can come up with an effective schedule? By planning all of these activities in advance, you could be more organized and efficient during the day.
You can think of the things you can get them to do on a particular day. Let’s start with something simple, sleep. We split this category into 3 subcategories:
1. Wake Time
2. Naptime (How many naps?)
Depending on the age of your child, they may have one or two naptimes per day, so plan according to the sleeping schedule
Next, we think about food. Here we are thinking about breakfast, lunch, dinner, and tea-break.
Go into the specifics of what food you need to prepare for them. Because cooking can take up a lot of time as well. If you are ordering takeaways, then you need to plan for the healthier options to buy. And don't be surprised catching yourself scrolling the food app without having an idea which to choose or be plainly spoilt with food choices. Plan in advance. And take advantage of mealtimes like breakfast and tea-break to prepare simple and healthy foods like oats, sandwiches with spread, variety of fruits, yogurts… all these got me going really quick and healthy for our family during this circuit breaker. Even occasionally homemade pancakes are great. Esp for those of you working from home, you need to plan all these so that you can have more effective time to do your work.
Next, you will need to plan on what activities you want your child to do during the day. So let’s say your child only has one naptime, you can think of a pre-nap activity, and a post-nap activity. Beaking up a day in parts will definitely help you go through the day better. We all know it is not easy to stay home esp with young kids. They can challenge you so much. So to make sure the day is less angry, we try not to swallow the entire elephant here. So we begin with small steps each day.
The activities will include if your child has any online learning. For me, both my toddler and 7 months old baby have HBL online and live with their respective teachers. And so, our schedule for the day will need to revolve around that. So I make sure that if I am bringing them out for a walk, I need to be back by whatever timings for them to have their lessons.
Most of the time people are concerned about what kind of activities we can give our children. So, for activities, there are 4 different categories:
1. House Chores;
2. Electronic Entertainment;
3. Creative Play activities and;
4. Outdoor activities.
Yes! House chores are like small little chores around the house that you can get your child to do such as folding the laundry or washing their toys. Samuel will wash his toys in the toilet while showering so that he gets to spend some time doing something constructive, and water play at the same time. Obviously, don't make doing chores boring, if not your children will start to hate chores. On hindsight, it is important to get your child to learn to be vested in the home by doing small little tasks for them to understand the importance of 1) keeping the house clean 2) taking care of their own things 3) Practise kindness on the efforts of whomever who have helped clean the house.
Electronic entertainment is definitely very familiar to us parents. It would be such as watching the television or playing on the iPad or phone. So electronic entertainment is always a sticky subject. If you don’t plan your children’s activities well and having a schedule to blend your time with theirs, what is likely to happen is most of the time you will realize that you will be allowing your kids to excessively watched their shows or play on the iPad, obviously this is not recommended because our children cannot be stimulated only via online entertainment. So prepping various play activities would be like playing with toys, or play-doh, etc. Be creative. Make simple playdough at home, bake cookies, get Kinetic sand, play with water beads, buy loads of drawing materials and the list goes on…. I for one, bought an indoor playground for my children because they have been deprived of their playground activities with the Covid19.
For outdoor activities, this does not necessarily mean bringing the kids to crowded places such as malls or markets. You can bring them for a jog or a cycle around the neighborhood. Get them out of the house for some fresh air in a secluded area. Most of the time, anything downstairs in your home or around the neighborhoods are quite empty. I bought bicycles during this season to ride the children around the neighborhood and they totally love it. Or a stroll at the park near our house. I even got a strider for Samuel for him to learn balance. So there are things you still can do outdoors. Or the simplest form of outdoors is literally just outside your door at the corridor. If you have a corridor space, then blowing bubbles is fun too!
Remembering also If you have an infant and a 2-year-old Tod like me, you can explore the activities that they can to co-play together? Remember to not just allow independent play activities but co-play activities where they will get a chance to learn to bond connect and develop.
So, this is an example of, what I will plan for my 2-year-old son Samuel. Firstly I will plan the food categories for the day. I look into his nap time which is optimal from about 12 pm – 2 pm on good days. If not, it is just 12 pm – 1.30 pm.
I will plan a pre-nap activity for him, such as going to the beach or buying breakfast at the nearby coffee shop or watch his favorite Elmo show. He has E-learning at 10 am every day, so he only gets to watch an hour plus or so After e-learning he will have another 1 hour plus to nap time, where he will be playing some dough, etc… and yeah. Naptime means break time for mommy & papi!
A tip for parents is to rest while your children are resting. If you choose to forgo that ‘Naptime Rest’ and choose to do chores etc, you might possibly find that it is difficult to get through the day with ease with the children. So choose your battles. If you need to complete important work without distractions, then this is the time! Else, take a break, eat some snacks, relaaaaax.
For house chores, I usually get Samuel to wash his toys, some plates, and carry the laundry. Little things that he can actually do which will promote them to participate around the house.
For electronic activities, it would be like their e-based learning that the school has prepared for us and of cuz, his favorite show.
So this is basically how you can go around planning for your child in a day. Try not to do too many activities or let your child play independently for too long because they will start to get bored and they will start to do things that they are not supposed to because they are being left alone. So always keep them occupied in a very balanced manner by having enough sleep, enough time to eat and enough playtime.
Pro-tip for this season is to make the kids sleep early. This is good for them to have a healthy bedtime so that you will also be able to catch up on work or personal stuff after the kids have gone to bed.
Stay at home with the children is a fantastic way to rebuild routines. I know it is not easy because so many of us still need to answer to our bosses and fulfill the responsibility of work calls. Hence, to be effective working from home with the addition of our children bouncing around the house, it is the ability to identify how you can segregate timings based on when they should be independent and when you should be doing guided play with them or when to have little conversations with your children. But no matter what, don’t get guilty or hung up on what you may or may not have done during this season. Because guilt parenting is never an effective way to live.
See yall soon!