COVID 19 – Lockdown with a Toddler

My heart sank when Boris Johnson announced that we were going into lockdown last week.  It was something I knew was coming but seriously dreaded. There was one positive in that we are still allowed out for exercise once a day, because the thought of not being able to leave the house at all filled me with horror.

I have been saying for a while now that as soon as we hit lockdown I would toilet train (he won’t use the potty) James.  To me it seemed like the perfect time because we could stay in and really get to grips with it, but now I am wondering if it just gives me something else to be anxious about in an already turbulent time.

There are so many posts on social media at the moment trying to encourage us all to stay positive, mums posting all the wonderful activities they’re doing with their children and so many people doing online fitness classes. Social media is definitely making things easier because we can still stay in contact with one and other even though we can’t physically see people.  However, despite all the positivity I wonder how people are actually finding the lockdown?  Are we all just putting on a brave face through this and pretending everything is ok?

I for one am finding this really difficult. The days are long and I don’t feel like I am being very productive. It may be because I have taken on the toilet training task as well which just gives me added pressure and something extra to worry about.  However, it comes to something when the highlight of my week can be taking the bins out with James, and thinking he’s now had some exercise.

We are lucky enough to have a garden which has been the only place we have taken James for fresh air.  At the moment I want to stay close to the house while he gets to grips with using the toilet. He loves the garden, but tends to want me to play with his toys more than he does and then he wants to play with the broom and the watering can.

James doesn’t seem to have really picked up that we aren’t going anywhere.  I don’t know if he is content with staying at home because of toilet training or whether he is just happy with the things we have been doing in the garden and the house.  He has said he wants to go to the park a few times and I have just told him all the parks are closed, and luckily he has accepted that.

At the moment I don’t think the lockdown is having much of an impact on James, but I do worry about how it might impact him if the lockdown is for a prolonged period of time. I worry that he will get too used to it just being the three of us and how he will integrate with others when we can see friends again.  I worry that he is missing out on seeing family. I worry that he is missing out on going to his new playgroup.  I worry that I am not doing enough to help him develop.  I know that I won’t be the only parent with these worries and we are lucky that this is all happening before James starts school, but it’s still hard.

That’s the thing… In all of this I do consider us really lucky. We don’t have to worry about my husbands job, we have a house we love with a garden, James doesn’t start school until 2021, and in all fairness our life hasn’t changed that much.  My husband works from home so now eats lunch with James and I, and I am still a stay at home mum.  It’s just that I can’t take James to the places we like to go to, he’s not attending playgroup and we’re not able to see friends.  Other than that things haven’t changed too much.

Despite all of this, its still really difficult  Having to entertain James at home is harder for me.  Instead of being able to take James out to run around in big open spaces in the fresh air we are confined to our house and garden.  This means he bosses me around and some of his demands are quite comical. For example:

  • “Mummy clean the kitchen” which basically means now you have finished building my train track, get out of my bedroom.
  •  “Mummy tidy up” because why do it yourself when you can get mummy to do it for you.
  • “Mummy slide” which means mummy sit on the sofa and I will slide down your legs.
  • “Mummy swing” sitting on my lap and me rocking backwards and forwards with him.
  • “Draw a sprout, a glove, a hippo, a pick up truck, a stream, sea, a flower pot, a sea cow.” Or any other random things he can think of that I will struggle to draw.

Then if I happen to take 5 minutes to actually sit on the sofa I become a climbing frame and have James climb all over me to keep him amused.  If I dare get my laptop out to attempt to write a blog or do some personal admin work I get told to “shut the computer”.

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When I am cooking the tea I have my little follower trying to look at how the mechanics of the dishwasher works, or even the oven, or opening and shutting the bin for fun.  Our kitchen is small, there’s not really enough space to have more than one person in there without tripping over them.  If he really hasn’t had enough contact with me he likes to put his hands in the back pockets of my jeans and just hold on while I cook.  He also likes to do this while we walk up the stairs.

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I have always found that the easiest way to keep James entertained is by taking him for a long walk.  He is good at walking, but also easily distracted with twigs, puddles and stones. He is a bit like a dog in that he needs a walk. We would then get home and he would be happy watching TV while I cook the tea.

I think I am quite good at recognising when I am finding things hard and my answer is always fresh air and exercise.  I much prefer to walk than run, but the lockdown has led me to start jogging and this is time to myself that I really value. I have never been any good at jogging and don’t even foresee me ever being any good at it.  I don’t put any pressure on myself to do it in certain times or to jog the whole of my route.  I am just doing some jogging and some walking along a woodland walk around our estate.  This is now one thing I look forward to each day because afterwards it makes me feel good.  It makes me feel like I have achieved something and not wasted the day.  It will also only be temporary because as soon as my husband goes back to work I won’t have time to do it.

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With only being allowed out once a day to do exercise, the time will come when James is toilet trained enough to leave the house and I have to weigh up what I value more – jogging by myself first thing or taking James for a walk.  I am yet to decide.  I have however ordered myself a skipping rope for the garden so if I do decide to take James for a walk, I can give skipping a go for some garden exercise.

I know there are families out there that have it far worse than us, but this is such a scary and unusual time that I think we are all finding things difficult as we get used to this new way of life.  I think it is all about finding a way to try and make the best of the situation. For us it means an ideal time to toilet train and working out how we can keep life as normal for James as possible, and to still be able to get outside all be it in a different way to what we were used to.

 

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