This staying home with small kids is hard. So hard. Anyone else feeling that?
The days are so long and yet they go by so fast. I am quickly finding that if I am not intentional with my time each day, nothing gets done. While I’m having so much fun with my kids, I’m also looking for high-quality resources to keep them entertained.
It’s really hard to be with kids all the time- their little brains are thirsty for knowledge and stimulation, and I am not an expert on early childhood learning and activities. Luckily, the State of Colorado has a ton of high-quality resources for parents to use during this difficult time.
In this post, I’ll share with you some tips to deal with transition, some resources for caregivers while they are home with kids, and give you some ideas about how to find and select high-quality child care when centers reopen.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Colorado Shines. As always, all opinions are my own.
Dealing With Transition
These unprecedented times are wreaking havoc on everyone’s schedules. Never in our recent memories have schools and childcare centers closed indefinitely, and many of us are feeling ill-equipped to keep young children busy, let alone prepare them for school. And our kids! One day they were going to school and the next it was canceled.
Add in parents who are still working and have to leave their kids with family members, parents who are working full time with kids in the home, and caregivers who are also healthcare workers- there’s a lot of transition.
In our house, we are lucky my husband still has a job. He was the last one hired, which usually means the first one out. Luckily, he hasn’t lost his job, but he IS working from home, on the phone 9 hours a day for work.
He is also working from 11 am to 8 pm, which means he misses family meals and bedtime. The kids miss him. I am bearing the brunt of meal and bedtime, and that makes work hard for me too.
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Transition and changes are hard on kids. Transitions can mean changing bedtime or wake up time, they can mean changing schools or caregivers, or transitions can be what we are living with right now- a complete change in the way we live our daily lives.
It’s very common for kids to act out during major transitions, so I want you to know first and foremost that acting out is really natural for kids who feel stressed due to change.
Rather than creating a punishment when your kids act out, try making a safe space for them to share their feelings. Talk to them openly, but at an age-appropriate level, about what is happening and how they feel about their world.
This can be as simple as a quick check-in during a meal, or acting out their feelings with their favorite stuffies. The important thing is to be loving and understanding when your kids express feelings of stress. That means being kind to yourself too, so don’t be afraid to take a break once in a while.
Keeping Kids Busy
There are a million ways to keep kids busy. We also know that not all the ways we can keep busy are good for them. I’ve long been a proponent of less screen time for kids, but right now even I am caving in more than I thought I would.
The hardest part about keeping kids intellectually stimulated at an age-appropriate level is finding resources you can trust from people who know what kids need.
Hands down, the best way to keep your child’s brain fed is to have him or her spend time with an adult who makes them feel safe and seen. Keep it simple- involve your child in meal preparation by talking them through the steps. Or sing songs during bath time. You can stop everything and read a story. Call a loved one on FaceTime and ask them about a childhood memory. Or just go outside. Learning at this age (0-8) is like feeding water into a dry sponge.
If you are running low on ideas or just need a fresh perspective, you can head over to earlylearningco.org, a website from the State of Colorado to help parents and caregivers of children aged 0-8 nurture their kids’ brains.
A few of my favorite resources:
- A free printable transitions document to help you manage your child’s needs during difficult transitions such as what we are going through now
- The importance of early years document– this has helped keep me motivated to do the things my child needs even when I don’t feel like it
- This set of videos from parents in different types of settings who talk about their experiences with their kids. These videos have helped me feel connected to other parents during this time
Planning Ahead- Child Care
We do know that this craziness isn’t going to last forever. At some point kids will go back to school, we will head back to work, and this precious time with our kids will be over.
And we want the time and energy that we spent nurturing and developing tiny brains to pay off- and we want our children in the best possible child care setting.
But- everyone is going to be looking for schools and child care at the same time, so it’s a good idea to start now. Luckily, Colorado Shines has a ton of online support for those of us looking for child care and schools in the future. Here are some of my favorite resources from them:
- Colorado Shines has a comprehensive guide on all the types of child care available in Colorado- access the guide here. It even goes through pre-kindergarten options, special education, and preschool program info.
2. Child Care Center search tool- this tool helps you narrow down your child care provider search even by language. The tool includes English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, German and Sign Language. Find the care center search tool here. The search tool also offers options to narrow your search down to Head Start programs and CCAP centers for low-income families.
3. This checklist of questions for potential caregivers. Learn what questions to ask child care providers, to help you assess if the child care will be safe and help children learn and grow.
4. Comprehensive list of resources for families in need right on the Colorado Shines website. Even better is the free hotline you can call and just talk to an actual person if you need help (1.877.338.CARE). Financial times are tough, tough tough- don’t be afraid to reach out for the help you need.
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