To protect ourselves and our children from illness, our everyday routines have become centered on staying at home and avoiding close contact with others. But let’s face reality, for both parents’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as our children’s, we need to stay busy, remain active and maintain social connections. As a mother of a very active 4-year-old, here’s what we’ve been doing to stay busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Be physically fit together – indoors or out

No matter if you run, lift weights or stretch include your child. My daughter and I have easily maintained social distancing by taking strolls around the block, and have implemented yoga routine to improve our physical health and reduce mental stress. With the Montana spring weather, yoga and stretching can be done indoors. YouTube offers a number of great stretching, yoga and workout videos you can do indoors. I suggest YouTube’s Moovlee channel which features both calm and active exercises.

2. Play in the yard or bring outdoor activities in

Despite the playgrounds closures, you have a playground right at home – your yard. There are numerous actives to do, including draw with sidewalk chalk, play with water toys, jump rope, throw/roll a ball back and forth, or blow bubbles. Since it is spring and we live in Montana, bad weather days can happen. So, try bringing these actives indoors. It can be a little messy but it’s also a lot of fun! Not to mention, the best way to avoid illness is to stay home.

3. Pull away from the TV and at-home-work to spend time together

Working at home can be difficult, especially when you have a distracting kiddo and deadlines to hit, but it’s important to spend time together. Take periodic breaks to read books, play a board game, sing songs, color, or cook a meal together. Taking a 15-minute break to interact with your kid, gives them much needed social interaction and can increase your brain’s productivity. To allow for more periodic breaks, pre-plan by waking up earlier to work while children sleep or schedule meetings during nap time.

4. Maintain connections – keep up the play virtually

Even though we cannot physically be with our family and friends, the internet has great resources to keep both you and your child connected to the outside world. Ask classmates’ parents to have a virtual playdate or check with school/daycare providers to see if they offer any online classes. My daughter has both video classrooms and ballet classes offered through the online platform Zoom. Grandma and grandpa also like to reconnect with my daughter by reading books and having a tea party over Facebook Messenger.

stay home memories