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For Families
Tue Apr 07 2020 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
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Coronavirus has created a strange new way of life for all families, and Cleo knows this is a challenging time for many parents. With lockdowns in place across the world, we are all spending much more time in close physical proximity to our partners and children. Thanks to the high-stress situation, that doesn't necessarily translate into emotional connection. We hope this resource of recommendations and ideas helps you find joy as you continue to shelter in place together.

We’re All in This Together

The internet is abuzz with ideas and activities to keep your kids busy, educated, and thriving during the coronavirus lockdown. And those are all great things! But we want to recognize that many parents are currently doing 3 full-time jobs: working from home, parenting, and teaching.

This would be a lot to expect in normal times; it’s even more to expect right now. Today, you might feel like a multitasking pro. But tomorrow you might feel like you’re barely holding it together. If you’re feeling like you can’t do it all perfectly, we get it. We are all in this together! However, we want to encourage you to trust your instincts about what your kids most need from you at this time and prioritize what your family needs.

We’re advocating radical self-acceptance here. In each moment, trust that you’re doing the very best you can with the tools and resources that you have to hand.

Find Your Rhythm

In the spirit of caring for yourself and setting reasonable expectations at this time, we encourage you to find a daily rhythm (not routine) that works for your family. Instead of a rigid schedule with specific times and activities, a daily rhythm will give you and your family the consistency you need without piling on the pressure to “perform” that could make you feel like you’re constantly falling short if things don’t go to plan.

Think about the practical things thatneedto happen on a daily basis and key ways your family can find joy and connection each day, and then structure your days with broad windows of time for each. Be gentle with yourself if some things are missed, and be willing to change and adapt as needed.

Prioritizing Connection

With so much quantity of time together, how can you also make it quality time? In the spirit of prioritizing connection, we are sharing some ideas to help you and your family find joy, ideas that are easy to implement, i.e., don’t require many materials or preparation and cleanup. Our hope is that you can find a few age-appropriate suggestions that best fit your family’s character that will lead to connection with your children and joy for all you. Just take what you love and leave the rest!

Getting Outside

Newborns and Infants (0–12 months)

  • Put your baby in a baby carrier or stroller and take a midday walk.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

  • Put your toddler in a baby carrier or stroller and take a midday walk. Or let them walk alongside you, moving as slowly as they need to in order to notice, wonder, and explore. Talk about what you see with them. Look for signs of spring.
  • Go outside and play Red Light, Green Light, kick around a soccer ball, or pretend to be different animals together.

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Take a walk with your child. Move as slowly as they need to in order to notice, wonder, and explore. Talk about what you see with them.
  • Go outside and play Red Light, Green Light, kick around a soccer ball, or pretend to be different animals together.
  • Do an outdoor scavenger hunt. Encourage your child to go find a leaf, a rock, an insect, a stick, and so on. Have them hunt for signs of spring. Better still, search with them!

Most Ages

  • If it’s warm, take your lunch outside and have a picnic in your yard. Your baby can enjoy the fresh air while you enjoy an al fresco meal. This is such a great sensory experience for babies who can crawl and experience the grass, leaves, or flowers. Older children can help you prepare the food and set up the picnic.

Indoor Movement

Newborns (0–3 months)

  • With a newborn, most movement activity will be more for your benefit. Put your baby in a baby carrier and go for a walk around the house.
  • Put your favorite music on and dance. You’ll love the endorphin release, and they’ll love the sense of closeness and soothing rhythm of your movement!
  • Do “tummy time” with your baby on your stomach/chest. Lay back and place your baby tummy to tummy with you. They’ll benefit from great motor development time and love being physically connected to you at the same time.

Infants (3–12 months)

  • Give your younger baby some time to roll, wave their arms, and kick their feet on the floor. Hang out with them, talk to them, and simply be present while they do this for as long as your baby shows interest and enjoyment. While newborns typically only last a few minutes at a time on the floor, 3–6 month-olds will usually do 30 minutes a day, but split into shorter sessions throughout the day. At 6 months, you’re looking for about an hour of floor time spread out over the course of the day.
  • Play Up the Mountain with your crawler. Let your baby crawl around on various surfaces, such as a pile of pillows or blankets on the floor. You can play Hide-and-Seek at the same time or have a favorite toy that they can chase up the “mountain.”
  • For pre-sitters and babies learning to sit, play Humpty Dumpty. To start, sit behind your baby and hold them by the hips. Then move their weight to one side. As you pull your baby off balance, you want them to place their hand on that side for support. If they don’t move their hand in that position, you can guide their hand for them. Then repeat on the opposite side and forward and backward. Add the Humpty Dumpty rhyme to make it more fun and tip them off balance as you say, “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
  • Place your baby in a seated position on the floor between your legs (so that there’s some support behind them) and place toys or books nearby for them to reach for. Help them to sit with their knees apart and the soles of their feet touching, as this kind of sitting will give them balance later on to reach and lean while sitting.

Toddlers & Preschoolers (1–5 years)

  • Have a dance party in your living room. Dance with them and pick them up and spin them around. They love this! Older Preschoolers can play Freeze Dance, and when the music stops: freeze!
  • Jump! Mark a few spots on the floor with tape or small objects and challenge your toddler to jump over them.
  • Find a basket or bin, a few stuffed animals, and try throwing the stuffed animals into the bin together. Preschoolers can say the animals’ names as you toss them.
  • Make a “balance beam” on the floor with tape and challenge each other to walk one foot over the other on it. Preschoolers can try additional challenges, like walking backwards, jumping over things, closing their eyes.

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Create a mini obstacle course throughout the house with your child’s help and take turns going through it.
  • Go on a color hunt around your home. Search for items of each color and sort them accordingly.
  • Play Hide-and-Seek.
  • Do some Cosmic Kids Yoga together.

Sensory Input & Play

Newborns (0–3 months)

  • Try infant massage. Lay your baby down and give them a relaxing massage. Here’s a short video with some tips.
  • Give your baby a bath.
  • Wear your baby in a baby carrier. Babies love being close to their caregivers, and you might even be able to get some work done while they sleep on your chest.

Infants (3–12 months)

  • Try infant massage. Lay your baby down and give him/her a relaxing massage. Here’s a short video with some tips.
  • Give your baby a bath or pour water onto their highchair tray for them to splash.
  • Wear your baby in a baby carrier. Babies love being close to their caregivers, and you might even be able to get some work done while they sleep on your chest.
  • For older infants, play with some homemade rattles and shakers. Fill containers with dry pasta, rice, beans, coins, bells, or toys. (Make sure to secure the lids to avoid choking hazards, and always supervise.) Join your baby in shaking, rattling, and exploring new sounds together.
  • Fill a large bowl with oats (you don’t have to worry about these ending up in their mouth!), then add different objects (like small baby toys). Let the baby explore the oats and the different objects in it. As they pull out an object, talk to them about it and respond to their surprise/amusement.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

  • Bathtime is always a hit! Add bubbles, toy figurines, or measuring cups for more fun. Let them “paint” the tub or tiles using shaving cream and paint brushes, and then wipe it off with a sponge. Super easy cleanup!
  • Make and play with homemade rattles and shakers. Fill containers with dry pasta, rice, beans, coins, bells, or toys. (Make sure to secure the lids to avoid choking hazards, and always supervise.) Join your child in shaking, rattling, and exploring new sounds together.
  • Fill a large bowl with oats (you don’t have to worry about these ending up in their mouth!), then add different objects (like small toys or figurines). Let your toddler explore the oats and the different objects in it. As they pull out an object, talk to them about it and respond to their surprise/amusement. You can do this outside too and just shake the blanket out when you’re done.
  • Play Little Burrito/Sandwich! Spread out a blanket on the floor and roll your toddler up in it. Snuggle them, pretend to “taste” them and exclaim how “spicy” they are. Or make a sandwich by putting a couch cushion on the floor, having your child lie down as the filling, and smoosh on more pretend fillings (cheese and lettuce and so on) by pressing on them, and then the topping off the sandwich with another couch cushion. You can “eat it” by gently wrestling around a bit.
  • Frozen game. Freeze water with drops of food coloring in it and some toy objects. Once the block is frozen, let your toddler put the ice into a bowl of room-temperature water. The ice will melt, the color will spread out, and they’ll be able to excavate the toys.
  • Play Simon Says.

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Bathtime is always a hit! Add bubbles, toy figurines, or measuring cups for more fun.
  • Make some homemade musical instruments. Fill containers with dry pasta, rice, beans, coins, bells, or toys. Your child can help you create the instruments and you can make music together!
  • Fill a large bowl with oats (you don’t have to worry about these ending up in their mouth!), then add different objects (like small toys or figurines). Let your toddler explore the oats and the different objects in it. As they pull out an object, talk to them about it and respond to their surprise/amusement. You can do this outside too and just shake the blanket out when you’re done.
  • Play Little Burrito/Sandwich! Spread out a blanket on the floor and roll your toddler up in it. Snuggle them, pretend to “taste” them and exclaim how “spicy” they are. Or make a sandwich by putting a couch cushion on the floor, having your child lie down as the filling, and smoosh on more pretend fillings (cheese or lettuce and so on) by pressing on them, and then the topping off the sandwich with another couch cushion. You can “eat it” by gently wrestling around a bit.
  • Frozen game. Freeze water with drops of food coloring and some toy objects in it. Once the block is frozen, let your child put the ice into a bowl of room temperature water. The ice will melt, the color will spread out, and they’ll be able to excavate the toys.
  • Play Simon Says.
  • Play Hide-and-Seek.
  • Sit on the floor and challenge your child to run up to you and try and knock you over.
  • Wrestle with your child.

Social Connection with Family & Friends

Newborns (0–3 months)

  • Hop on a video call with family members who might be missing out on seeing your baby right now.
  • Consider creating a private Facebook group or a private Instagram account where you can share baby updates with family and close friends.

Infants (3–12 months)

  • Hop on a video call with family members who might be missing out on seeing your baby right now.
  • Consider creating a private Facebook group or a private Instagram account where you can share baby updates with family and close friends.
  • Show your baby photos of family members and talk about who they are, what you love about them, and favorite memories of them.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

  • Hop on a video call with family members who might be missing out on seeing your child right now.
  • Consider creating a private Facebook group or a private Instagram account where you can share updates with family and close friends about your child.
  • Show your child photos of family members and talk about who they are, what you love about them, and favorite memories of them.
  • Send pieces of artwork made by your toddler to family members via text, email or snail mail.
  • Tell your toddler stories about their loved ones; they can be true stories or creative stories with the loved ones as main characters.

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Hop on a video call with family members who might be missing out on seeing your child right now. Consider scheduling regular calls to help maintain some consistency. Maybe your child has some fun ideas about games to play, songs to sing, or things to show their loved ones.
  • Consider creating a private Facebook group or a private Instagram account where you can share updates with family and close friends about your child.
  • Show your child photos of family members and talk about who they are, what you love about them, and favorite memories of them. You could print out some photos and your child could make a little book or collage with them.
  • Send pieces of artwork made by your toddler to family members via text, email or snail mail.
  • Your child could be penpals with a relative and send and receive regular letters/pictures.
  • Tell stories together with your child about their loved ones; they can be true stories or creative stories that feature the loved ones as main characters.

Easy & Calm Games to Play

Infants (0–12 months)

  • Play Peek-a-Boo with a blanket or piece of fabric in front of your face.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

  • Play Peek-a-Boo with a blanket or piece of fabric in front of your face.
  • For older toddlers, play I Spy.
  • Play My Favorite... Take turns asking each other what your favorite thing is by category (e.g., food, color, game, etc.).

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Play I Spy.
  • Play My Favorite... Take turns asking each other what your favorite thing is by category (e.g., food, color, game, etc.).
  • Play 20 Questions. Each person thinks of something and tells everyone else what category it’s in (person, place, thing, etc.) Everyone has a combined total of 20 questions to ask before guessing what the thing is.
  • Play Pictionary.
  • Play What’s Missing? Place lots of objects on the floor or a table. Take turns having one person remove one item while everyone else has their eyes closed. Then everyone has to guess what was removed.

Art

Infants (3–12 months)

  • Tidy painting. Grab a ziplock bag and put some drops of washable paint inside. Seal the bag and let your baby squish and push on the surface of the bag to move the colors around.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

  • Use sidewalk chalk outside to create art together for you and your neighbors to enjoy. Dipping chalk tips in water makes the colors more vibrant.
  • Grab some playdough and create a playdough scene together.
  • Try body tracing. If you have large paper or a piece of cardboard, have your child lie down and draw around them. Invite them to decorate and color their body shape.

Preschoolers (3–5 years)

  • Use sidewalk chalk outside to create art together for you and your neighbors to enjoy. Dipping chalk tips in water makes the colors more vibrant.
  • Grab some playdough and create a playdough scene together.
  • Try body tracing. If you have large paper or a piece of cardboard, have your child lie down and draw around them. Invite them to decorate and color their body shape.
  • Teamwork drawing. Take turns passing a paper back and forth and drawing a new detail.
  • Create a sign for your door or windows to thank essential workers and/or postal carriers.

Taylor Davis is a Birth Doula & Cleo Guide

Cleo aims to give the most accurate information about COVID-19, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since this story was published. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.