I live with a toddler. How can we all survive the summer together?

Families/Kids Mental Health Staying Safe

A: Pair the live-in-the-moment attitude of Dory with the caution and planning of Marlin from Finding Nemo.

Toddlers thrive on attention and routines. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has added more to the plates of adults while altering most daily routines. You can and will get through this! Here are a few suggestions inspired by your questions:

Safety First. Do your best to secure the basics first – food, shelter, supervision. If you have these bases covered, GREAT! Think about how you might help secure these essentials for others and act.

Supervision. This is a tough one! Toddlers have endless energy and limited safety sense. Engagement with toddlers goes a long way in directing that energy towards positive outlets. This will be difficult to accomplish with one person. For some, daycare will be a necessary option (see this article for guidance). For others, informal care networks will emerge. Think about the best options to build your network of support by considering mental health, infection risk, and timing.

Mental Health. In the best of times, it’s difficult to care for a toddler solo. Check in with your own mental health and the mental health of your toddler. Some adults may love the extra snuggles while others desperately need a break. Some kids may be thriving in quarantine while others may struggle significantly. Checking in with the situation is essential to carrying on.

Infection Risk. As we have said before, small kids are (adorably) gross and incapable of social distance. While children rarely develop severe Covid-19 infection, they are capable of spreading infection across adults. Small, stable care teams reduce the risk of transmission and increase the capacity to manage infection quickly should a member of the group become ill. Open spaces with regularly cleaned fomites (toys and shared surfaces) further decrease the risk of transmission. Stay SMART.

Timing. Plan for the longest stretch of time that is realistic. If an opportunity for a safe and reliable routine presents itself, go for it. If not, do the best you can in the moment. Your hugs, face time, and conversation are so essential to early child development. When it feels like you accomplished nothing, know that being present in the moment with your toddler is everything.

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