Pandemic Parenting of Small Children

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    • #180875

      Hi All,

      I’m currently a stay-at-home dad with a toddler. I feel varying levels of success depending on the day but overall I feel like I’m failing.

      I look at the proposed schedules for small children during the pandemic and I feel dread and shame all over. I can’t even imagine approaching these schedules.

      My son wakes me up between 5 and 6 am every day. I have him remain in his room until 7, but still, there isn’t really sleep that occurs between wake up and get up times.

      In addition to ADHD I have some chronic health problems and my strength/resilience are not what they once were. So we start off with breakfast and watching TV – oftentimes with me napping because I’m so exhausted.

      Each day I try to make sure we do at least 2 “active” things. Sometimes its going to the “construction store” (home depot or lowes), tossing a ball around, going for a walk, searching for treasures I’ve placed in his rice and beans, doing “construction” projects around the house, and so on.

      But these activities don’t last super long – sometimes I can stretch an outing to 2 hours but much more often its 15 mins to 45 mins.

      Part of this is because I simply cannot stand doing certain activities for more than a few minutes and he won’t do the activity without my active participation – for example, I go nuts digging in the rice and beans OR playing a board game like Candyland.

      I wouldn’t feel so bad if he had other kids to interact with, but it is just me and him most of the day 5-7 days each week.

      So I find us watching a lot of TV, using his tablet, or one of my old computers.

      I have more to say but perhaps this is enough to get a conversation going?

      Thankfully in our area things are relatively under control with the pandemic and he will go back to preschool in a month…

    • #180969
      Penny Williams

      It sounds like you’re doing the best you can under current circumstances. So much restriction for healthy and safety drastically limits the activities you can do.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #181899

      First, I would like to congratulate and encourage you for the active role you are taking. I know too many parents who could learn by your example.

      Every person needs to learn how to motivate themselves and find interesting activities to pursue, whether ADHD is involved or not. Maybe you can help your child identify activities they enjoy on their own. They will need this skill when they get into preschool or kindergarden. It might be helpful to observe your child when they are alone, when they see no one nearby, to notice how they spend their time. Some kids stop entertaining themselves when others are around because they learned to do that.

      Alone-time and being a little bored can be a powerful tool to boost creativity and initiative.

    • #181907

      First: Being a stay-at-home Dad is the greatest gift for your little one. You’re a constant ray of 🌞 sprinkling your love and 🤗. You’re doing a great job!

      Toddlerhood is about introducing the 🌎. Anything and everything you can do to introduce him to adds to his senses. Think all six senses, what can you introduce him to?

      My suggestions.

      Due to your health/exhaustion factors you mention, can you go for “rides in the car”? Exploring rides. Find patches of nothing, hope out and ask him to find something. Does he have his favorite stuffies you can put in your backpack, without him seeing? When he’s in the throws of hunting, pull one out and place next to a tree. Coax him around the area by giving clues. Surprise, he finds giraffie. How did giraffie get here? What story does he tell you? Ask questions, (think: who, what, when, where, why, how) get him to start making up stories, being creative with you. Help him along with ideas.

      Get all the safe kitchen utensils out on the floor. Sit down and motion how to use the. Spatula, flips what? Pancakes. Whisk beater, wooden spoons, muffin tins, cookie sheets, pot and pans. Yes this could get challenging sound wise. Play the drums, get him to see and play the different sounds made by the different sizes. Make sure to bring out plastic Tupperware, that’ll give your ears a break. With the muffin tins, the hide-and-seek beans you mentioned. Mix all the beans together, white, navy, black-eyed, kidney, pinto, lentils, black beans, different colours obviously. Separate them into the different muffin cups. Once you can see maybe 10, count out the beans together. Find a bean recipe you like because next stage is putting the dried beans in water overnight and the next day is your “activity” to make that together. There are a lot of great parent-child cookbooks on the market. If you are so apt, pick 2 recipes per week and make it together, then increase to 3, 4, 5 times a week. Call it whatever name he likes. Make doing it fun, joy-filled time together. He’s “in charge” of the plastic measuring cups. Anything you can put in those measuring cups for the recipe, will make him feel valued, important, responsible, “in charge of pouring”. Plus, you’re setting the stage for traditions, cooking together as a family and that’s creating joyful memories.

      I’m a fan of aromatherapy. So you can get some oils and smell the differences together. I have a humidifier/diffuser. If it’s safe, you can put in his room, up high on a shelf and decide together each night before he goes to bed what smell to put in that he can go to sleep with. Lavender is most relaxing.

      Get some toddler appropriate art supplies and crafts. Go to the craft store and just ask. They’ll help you. Yarn projects will help with his dexterity and motor skills. Get things that feel different.

      Nature walks. Whatever you find, come home and “Make Art”. Get out glue, sparkles, twist ties, twine, rope. Think of everything you throw away as something that can be used in art or recycling. Toilet and paper towel rolls, toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, magazines, medicine bottles. Go on scavenger hunts with your son.

      My parents liked to take us to thrift stores. We’d pick out neat spoons my Dad would drill holes in so we could make windchime mobiles. Then he’d hang ’em up outside our bedroom windows or in our rooms, bathrooms.

      Finally, this may be a biggie for you, get a dog! My parents had golden setters the entire time my younger brother and I were growing up. Dogs teach unconditional love, routine and have a wealth of activities associated with them. Walks, playtime, pet store visits (pick out new ball or toy, take the dog, see the interactions he’ll have, sit on the big bags of dog food, check out the dog beds section for tactile feel goods), favorite treats, rides in the car, “smell the flowers time”, literally. From those memories, a dog has always been my best friend throughout my years. Every milestone a child (or adult) lives, can have a dog’s impact and impression. My dogs taught me how to be reflective, compassionate and empathetic, start up conversations with people on walks (social distancing of course), laying down to watch the moons and the stars. Dogs can go everywhere now, so he can be in charge of getting the fam ready to go for drives in the car, getting and holding the leash, getting in the backseat with his pal, making sure his pal has treats ziplocked and ready to go. Twice a day, the routine of feeding, 8 and 5. Get the water, get the food, measure out, 3 doggie spins, sit, eat. He can learn how to train her. They have puppy training classes for parents and kids. We have a woman who does them Saturday mornings at the park. At the end, she has the kids and parents run the dog around the park. Your kiddo will be socializing with other people and dogs, striking up conversations, seeing how there are so many different types of dog breeds. My Dad taught me lots of them so we’d call ’em out when driving, walking, setter, golden, alaskan, border, lab, etc.

      Throughout all these activities and processes, ask him to name things. You’re getting him to “think” creatively, increasing his vocabulary, express himself, his feelings. In essence, he’s letting you into his world, sharing what’s going on in his mind with you. If he has a challenging time defining, you can guide, suggest options, create sounds and words together.

      Hope this gives you some ideas, how to see the 🌎 of excitement and exploration through your son’s 👀. Enjoy these moments. You’re imprinting memories and traditions for him to past down to his children. Generational exploration.

      Also, been keenly aware he may have ADHD via your genetics. He’s going to learn differently and specially. Honor his specialness. When you were a kid, what made you feel special? Give him that strong self-esteem before he goes out into the world!🌎 Treasure these moments. You are so very fortunate to be home with him to discover, explore and experience your lives together. You both are learning so much.💝

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by RRlys.
      • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Penny Williams.
      • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #181911

      Here’s the deal. I took today off for a mental health day and saw your question. I’ve been writing my response for probably an hour or so. I got to the bottom, clicked submit button and nothing. So, I can only deduct, my response is too long. I’m going to break up my post for you. Being ADHD, I get it and want to give you some ideas in which to launch from.👨‍👦

      BTW: No need to judge your level of success being a Dad-at-home. Loving your child every minute if every day is success. That’s all they want.💖

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by RRlys.
    • #182004

      I am a grandmother looking after a very active 7 year old with ADHD. I find going outside helps, as does the playground (now that they are open in my area). I have a small ‘exercise’ trampoline for her to jump on. Screen time limits have gone out the window for learning shows and games (e.g.;;; She has also enjoyed making art with the shapes on Powerpoint for quite a few years.
      Honestly, if your child is healthy and feels loved, you are doing an amazing job. Give yourself a break!!! NO SHAME!

    • #182038

      I am a working from home mom with a 5 year old. My job can be very demanding (8-10 hour days) and my son is very active. I suspect he has ADHD but have not wanted to walk down that route with him yet. Before corona and lockdown ( am in Harare, Zimbabwe) we took care of some of his energy through school….but now that he is at home all the time. Our days look very similar to yours. . Because of my condition (I have ADHD for which I am taking Ritalin) I get worked up a lot and when I get the opportunity to wind down all I want to relax and I dont have time for him. And of course I feel shame and guilt…Its tough but I am out of ideas. I am an introvert I dont like going out much and having to meet his needs for play …etc just wears me out.. it feels like work so its easier to leave him on the phone or laptop watching TV or playing games. Have no bright ideas, just wanted to share. You are not alone.

    • #182370

      Same here too. My baby used to sit and play with his tablet all day long. Now I am too concerned now.

    • #182426

      Don’t worry, we are all in the same boat.

      Here are some alternative schedules that made me laugh and feel better:

      funny schedule


      funny schedule 2

    • #182715

      Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, encouragements, and suggestions – I really appreciate them!

      The parks have re-opened and we have been able to go to the park’s sandbox on an almost daily basis and that has burned 3-4 hours a lot of days (he loves construction), so that has really helped!

      Figured I’d share a few other things I’ve found to be helpful:

      – We have a big box with rice and beans in it, it acts as pseudo-sand and he loves to spend time digging in it. Eventually I had the idea to start burying things into it, he likes Dinosaur Train and in one episode they drill into the earth and find minerals, so I picked up a National Geographic box of rocks, fossils, and minerals (200 pcs) for $25 off Amazon and started putting them in there for him to find. But almost anything seems to work – candy, legos, etc.
      – I’m very thankful when it comes to electronics/screen time for Khan Academy for Kids and PBS Kids, these are a lot of fun and educational.
      – For bath time we sometimes use shaving cream or various non-permanent paints to paint while in the tub.

      Thanks everyone!

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