Surviving COVID-19 With a Toddler–Barely!

Every now and then, I like to reflect on what life was like before a global pandemic. 

I remember the regularity of my schedule:  In the mornings I’d wake up early, drop my two-year-old son off at daycare, and head to work. At my job, I was in the company of my colleagues as we trivialized over literature, writing techniques, and educational theory.

At the time it all seemed so mundane. Like most working moms, I felt as though I was burning the candle at both ends. After all, having a career and being a parent are both full-time jobs! As news of the coronavirus spread and fear began to rise, I was faced with the dilemma of working from home while also watching my son in the process.

When I considered the task at hand, I immediately knew that I’d taken both my job and my childcare for granted. As COVID-19 continues to affect people all over the world, parents and kids alike have had to adjust. I am happy to report that my son and I are (barely!) surviving our new normal. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m here to tell you that you can do it too!

Getting on a Schedule

If you have a toddler at home, you probably already know the importance of keeping them on a solid schedule. During my first week on lockdown, I saw the lowliest points of darkness that the terrible twos had to offer. My sweet, precious baby boy was throwing tantrums and crying throughout the day because I hadn’t taken the initiative to manage how we’d spend our time. Toddlers need one-on-one time, they need to eat regularly, they need naps, and if they’re potty training they often need to be reminded when to go. Ignoring any of these things can reduce them to the scary little monsters we pray they will never become. Implementing a set time to meet each of my son’s needs, helped to lessen (not eliminate, because I’m not a miracle worker) tantrum episodes and give me enough quiet time to complete important tasks for work.

Having Me-Time

Staying home all day with little ones is hard whether you are working or not. The lack of adult conversation, the constant strain of having to meet another person’s needs (who probably cannot articulate those needs), and the stress of neglecting your own desires begin to weigh on you after a while. Since COVID-19 has decreased our abilities to have nights out with friends and monthly trips to the spa, we have to be creative in order to make time for ourselves. For me, this means waking up an hour or two before everyone else to drink my morning coffee, surf the web, and enjoy the stillness of a quiet home. I’m an introvert and having my son attached to me throughout the day can be daunting, so it’s important for me to be centered before the constant pleas for “Peppa Pig!” and “Ice cream!” begin.

Giving Grace Where It’s Due

I cannot count how many meltdowns I’ve had since COVID-19 has reared its ugly head. Every day is a battle between feeling grateful to have a job with allowances for remote working and bitterness about being forced to stay at home. Full disclosure:  I miss my old life. I miss dropping my son off at daycare; I miss the quotidian dramas of the workplace, and I miss the family coming together at the end of the day to discuss it all. It’s taken me a while to accept that the way I feel is okay. Though the guilt of my ungratefulness often creeps up when I least expect it, I give myself grace because every human emotion is valid–whether we’re ashamed of it or not. I also extended grace to my toddler. His temper tantrums and outbursts have been frustrating, to say the least. But he doesn’t understand why his life has been so shaken up. Although our pandemic experience hasn’t been pretty, we’re doing it, and that deserves some applause!

These are some of the most important steps I’ve taken to keeping our lives on track during the coronavirus pandemic. Trust me–we are still a hot mess! But we’re staying safe and learning to role with the punches. If you’re at home with a toddler during this time, I feel your pain, joy, and everything in between. You are not alone in whatever it is you are feeling, and you’re not wrong for feeling it. Strength and courage to all the parents out there! We’re in this together!

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