SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - With the coronavirus pandemic forcing so many schools and daycare centers to close, along with folks working from home, parents are finding themselves in new dilemmas, especially those with toddlers and young children.
For parents of young toddlers, working from home includes a whole different challenge.
Georgia Southern professor Dr. Katy Gregg knows it isn’t easy. Besides teaching Child and Family Development, she has plenty of real life experience in the field as well.
“I have a 14-month-old and a four-year-old at home, so I understand,” she laughs.
But Dr. Gregg also knows it can be done and she has some tips for those working and parenting a young one.
First, create a schedule and stick to it.
“Now we really have to tune in to a routine and a schedule so they know what’s happening next so we can tell them, but also so we know what’s happening next," Dr. Gregg says. "This way, we don’t wait until the meltdown to transition to the next activity.”
Secondly, keep your cool and most likely, your child will follow.
“So when they’re having a tantrum or strong emotions, if we talk calmly, stay calm, they may stay calm,” Gregg explains.
As busy as we can feel, Dr. Gregg says having time with your child without your phone or computer also holding some of your attention is needed for both of you.
“We can kind of half play and half work, and sometimes we have to do that. We don’t have a choice," she says. "But try to set in some time. Maybe it’s right before lunch time when you’re going to take your lunch break anyway for that undivided attention time.”
Gregg also suggests if you do need to work and entertain the child, keep a “Busy Bin” nearby. Fill a small bin or box with objects your toddler can play with, even non-toys. Gregg says old remote controls or rubber kitchen items work well.
“Let’s say they’re playing with blocks and they lose attention. This way you can just reach down and hand them a newer, novel item,” she says. “I actually have an old keyboard that I cut the cord off of. If I’m typing, my one year old can bang on the keyboard as well.”
Finally, Dr. Gregg says create a space just for your child to safely explore on their own.
“In our homes, think about how many times do you say no in an hour. Or don’t touch that, or put that down, right? Or how you’re redirecting them from a cabinet," Gregg says. "So a ‘yes space’ is a space with all things they can touch, they can have their hands on, some of their toys, but also some novel items.”
Dr. Gregg also suggested some easy activities parents can set up for their toddlers, using simple household items.
- Tape toilet paper/paper towel rolls to walls, and have kids drop balls through the holes.
- Give kids buckets of toys, play food, other items, and have them put them in an empty tissue box. “Kids love to dump things out and then put things back in,” Gregg says.
- Put paint, flour, rice, beads, Play-Doh, etc. in a plastic, zipped bag (keep bag taped up to avoid little fingers opening and making a mess) so the child can press down and smash items in bag.
- Stack up pillows and let child knock down the stack. Give instructions (“Crawl over the red pillow”). You could even build a small obstacle course from pillows.
- Let them be apart of your “work.” Give them papers to “file” or pens to sort into cups.
- If you have space to let them get wet or messy, give child a few bowls or buckets and some scoops to move and pour water back and forth between the buckets. Add some food coloring to the water to make it a little more fun.