As a working mother of two young girls (4 and 2), I can say with complete confidence that I have not mastered quarantine life.
My inbox, phone and social feeds are flooded with ideas for at-home learning, craft activities, and balanced meals that honestly would have been a stretch before the covid outbreak. Now, 30 days into isolation, my capacity to spend 20 minutes setting up an activity and 20 minutes cleaning up an activity that my daughters spent 15 minutes working on, is really limited. Especially when you need about 10 of them to get through a day.
Instead, I have come to terms with the fact that all I can do is my best. And “my best” is going to differ day to day depending on my own energy level, mental state, and workload. Some days, that means watching “Trolls World Tour” three times. Yes, that happened. Other days that means swimming (we live in Florida), painting coconuts, reading books together and completing school lessons.
All that said, our best days are the ones when we incorporate physical activity. I’ve found that when the kids are physically active, they fight less, and they are then able to focus better on a non-physical activity after, say Legos or drawing. They’ll even sit more attentively in front of the TV for a full ”Daniel Tiger” episode, giving my husband and I some much needed time to get work done, throw in laundry, online grocery shop and whip together a meal.
We are fortunate to live in Florida where we can incorporate things like swimming, bike riding, and walks, so we do our best to do one or two of those activities every morning and afternoon. Still, these are time consuming, and even here it sometimes rains, so we have to be creative. If you haven’t tried it, it’s amazing how far sets of jumping jacks, skipping around the house, lunges and arm circles will get you. Fifteen minutes of that and our girls are suddenly much more content to play quietly and independently.
Our greatest parenting hack so far has been our indoor “trampoline”. This consists of an air mattress in our living room. Our girls bounce and laugh and burn tons of energy.
So, while I’m not making any overachieving parents lists, what I have figured out is that there is a reason our kids have PE class at school, and taking a few minutes every day to make sure even my 2- and 4-year-olds get exercise makes a huge difference for our whole family.
Needless to say, we are going to be living with a giant blown up air mattress in the middle of our living room for the foreseeable future.
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