How I Keep My 4-Year-Old Busy While Staying Sane.

Look, as much as I LOVE my kid, being at home 24/7 with my 4-year-old is rough. I’m trying to keep my sanity in check with everything that’s going on, all while keeping up with chores, cooking, teaching and trying to keep my daughter busy and entertained. Being in quarantine with kids is a lot to get used to. I had to find ways to keep my daughter busy while allowing her to learn and have fun without losing my mind. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

1. Gardening

We planted some seeds indoors and outdoors. My daughter gets excited about watering the plants and checking them everyday to see how much they have grown. I have really gotten into it lately. It’s relaxing. Gardening has also kept us busy on rainy days or days that we choose to stay indoors too. I ordered some flower pots and we painted them. That kept my 4-year-old busy for quite some time. Also, painting was fun even for me. We’ve also watched gardening videos together to learn more about plants and how they grow.

2. Magnetic blocks.

I ordered magnetic blocks from Amazon. I saw it on someone’s Instagram feed and decided to give it a try. I knew my daughter would like it but I didn’t expect it to be such a big hit. It keeps her busy for a long time and honestly I love playing with them too. We usually put some music on, sit on the floor and build castles.

3. YouTube yoga.

Before Coronavirus, in a time long ago, my daughter took classes and did various activities. Now that we cannot attend activities or events, we do what we can at home. Cosmic Kids Yoga is one of my daughter’s favorite channels on Youtube. The videos combine yoga with story time. One warning though, some of the videos are an hour long or more. That wouldn’t be horrible if my daughter followed the videos on her own, but since she likes to do them together, I usually look for a shorter video because…WTF? Mama is TIRED.

4. Games.

My daughter’s birthday was not too long ago and luckily a lot of the gifts she received were toys and games to keep her occupied. Some of our favorites: Soggy doggy, Frozen 2: Surprise Slides and Hot Potato. Those games require another player so we usually play as a family. If I need a moment to myself however, there are great games on PBS Kids and Nick Jr’s App that are free and educational so I don’t feel too guilty. She loves playing those on her own.

5. Live virtual classes.

Like I mentioned, my daughter is used to taking classes in person. She used to take ballet. And although there are ballet videos online, live virtual classes can be more exciting for some kids because the instructors can react to them and communicate with them live. Also, if they’re learning a new skill, an instructor or teacher can help and advise them as they go along. It feels as close to the real thing as we can get for now. Another plus is that it’s a great way to support small businesses right now. The virtual ballet classes my daughter took were with Baby Ballet Long Island.

6. ABC Mouse.

We signed up for the free trial to see how we’d like it and it’s been so helpful. I was worried that my daughter would “fall behind” since she won’t be attending Pre-k like we had planned but ABC Mouse has been useful. There are a ton of lessons, games, stories and activities that adjust to her level. She usually does the lessons and activities on her own so I can either relax or get something done.

7. Forts.

We have a rule in our house: on rainy days, we build forts! It’s okay to do nothing sometimes! But how do you get your kid on board with it? On days that we’re stuck inside we build a fort in our living room with pillows, blankets and chairs. Then we throw on a movie…or two. And we have snacks…lots of snacks. Something about the fort keeps my daughter in her seat and my husband and I get a little break.

8. Story time on YouTube.

My daughter loves stories and I love reading books to her. However, sometimes it’s nice when someone else does the reading. There are a ton of books on YouTube read by different YouTubers, characters and celebrities. There are even animated short stories inspired by classic books that you might remember from your childhood. My daughter is really into The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Room on the Broom, and my personal favorite, Miss Nelson is Missing.

I’m learning as I’m going along and some things work one day and not the next, but these are my go-to activities.

Parents, how are you holding up?

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