Quarantine with a Toddler: A Week of Pinterest Activities for Littles

I know that this quarantine has been challenging for so many people for a multitude of reasons. Some people are still having to go to work every day at essential jobs to help keep people fed, protected, cared for, and safe. All these essential workers – doctors, nurses, medical staff, police, fire fighters, grocery workers, gas station employees, cleaning staff, and many more essential industry workers are putting themselves on the front lines (and potentially risking their own health and safety) to keep our communities up and running, and my gratitude for these workers cannot be understated! Some people are able to continue their careers from home, but for many, working from home has come with its own set of challenges. Others are staying home for the safety of themselves or loved ones with underlying risk factors or compromised immune systems, and this social isolation is taking its toll. We all have undoubtedly faced challenges in the face of these unprecedented circumstances.

As a teacher, I’ve been able to continue my work from home in the form of e-Learning, but this new frontier has come with its own set of challenges. Those face-to-face interactions that we thrive on in the classroom have been virtually eliminated, and we’re left struggling to support our students in the only ways we can. I know that I’m incredibly blessed to still have a job and to be able to work from the safety of my home, but nevertheless, this pandemic has unleashed changes and challenges that I never could have anticipated.

One of the most pressing challenges for me has been the feat of working from home while parenting an active toddler who doesn’t have the capacity to understand the current situation. It’s definitely a blessing that she’s blissfully unaware of the chaos and uncertainty that’s facing many of us these days, but it’s been challenging for her to understand that, even though mom and dad are suddenly home all the time now, we both have work obligations that are taking some of our attention away from her. In her limited experience, she’s typically had our undivided attention when we’re home, so this sudden change has been a shock to her little system.

As we navigate this new frontier as a family, I’m doing my best to keep her mind active and her screen time somewhat limited, which has definitely been a challenge. I’ve felt a lot of guilt as a parent lately about how much screen time she’s had recently, but I’m often reminded of the need for grace – to allow ourselves some “wiggle room” as we figure out these uncharted waters. If you’re a parent or a spouse, or even a single individual who’s feeling guilty about those hours of Netflix bingeing you’ve been doing lately, remember to allow yourself some grace. We’re all still figuring out this new “normal,” and for our health and sanity, we need to cut ourselves some slack.

But if you’re a parent of littles who’s looking to keep their minds active and give them a break from screen time, I’ve challenged myself to try out a few new Pinterest activities each week with my daughter! Will we still have some “screen time” while mommy is in a meeting? Of course we will! And nevertheless, she might still try to head-butt me in the middle of said meeting, despite my attempts at distraction. But if I can infuse some other fun, engaging, and educational activities into our day, I think we’ll both be happier in the long run. Best of all, we did all of these activities with just the basic things we already had at home!

Here’s our week of Pinterest fun:

Edible “Paint”

My daughter loves yogurt – it’s probably her favorite food these days. So when I came upon this edible paint “recipe” (yogurt and food coloring), I knew it would be a hit! Not only did my daughter LOVE painting her high chair tray, but she nearly cleaned the whole thing up afterward when she realized it was yogurt!

Cereal Sorting

We’ve had a box of Baby Shark cereal in our cupboard for quite a while. The tasty little marshmallow bits had long since been picked out of the bag, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to toss the rest of the cereal. Needless to say, I was excited to find this activity that would make use of the cereal we already had on had. I made a quick little sorting mat with some paper and markers (and my hubby even laminated it for us with our home laminator – because #teacherlife). It was a fun little activity with minimal prep, and it was a great way to work on important sorting skills!

Sensory Bag

I found a number of sensory bag ideas on Pinterest, but we didn’t have all the “ingredients” they called for, so I just improvised! This bag was 2 colors of washable paint, vegetable oil, and water. After a while, the paint and water mixed to form a uniform color and it wasn’t quite as exciting, but initially it was really neat how the paint and oil separated when you squished the bag.

Bowl of Bubbles

Another super simple, low-prep activity. A squirt of dish soap and a little water in a shallow bowl. We used a straw to to blow the bubbles, and she loved scooping them up and popping the bubbles. This one was a huge hit!

Bubble Foam

Following on the coat tails of the bubble bowl from the previous day, we made soap “foam.” A cup of water and two tablespoons of dish soap, and then I whipped it in our Kitchen Aid mixer for a minute or two until we got this awesome bubble foam! You can even add food coloring before mixing to make it colorful. Another fun and easy activity that my daughter loved!

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