Here's how to keep toddlers and preschoolers busy while everyone is practicing social distancing due to the coronavirus—and not lose your mind.

By Rebecca Hastings
March 23, 2020
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Here we are, home with the kids for an undetermined amount of time. Plus, we can't go to our regular fun or make-it-through-the-day places. Can we really do this? Absolutely. And it doesn't need to be stressful. Keeping it simple is the secret to making it work for everyone.

The key to a successful extended period of time at home is balance. Rest is equally important to outside play. Fun activities are equally important to everyone (including parents) as having alone time. Make time for each of these types of activities to ensure everyone is weathering their time at home well. Write these activities down, let the kids pick what they want to do for the day (or for the hour), and just go from there.

Outside Activities

One of the blessings in the timing of this is that spring is on the horizon. It is the perfect time to play outside (just avoid common play areas like playgrounds.) The fresh air and sunshine or even splashing in puddles in the rain are great ways to have a change of scenery.

  • Host a teddy bear picnic in the backyard
  • Draw with sidewalk chalk or sidewalk chalk paint (Learn to make your own here)
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play in the sandbox
  • Collect rocks/shells/treasures
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Indoor Activities

Playing dress up for the one thousandth time in a week is going to lose its appeal fast. Indoor activities don't need to be complicated or boring. Have some fun without feeling stressed to gather tons of different materials.

  • Hand over a doll and encourage your child to hold, talk, dress, and take care of it.
  • Do a puzzle
  • Read a book
  • Print some free coloring pages and color away
  • Play with blocks
  • Watch a movie

Family Activities to Do at Home

During stressful times, being physically present for our kids is essential. As long as everyone is in good health and following guidelines, you can still sit together, give hugs and remember that you are in this together. Set aside time to do things together and be fully engaged will help all of you feel intentionally connected (yes, even little ones!).

  • Hide a toy somewhere in the house, and ask your child to find it. Explore with her, using cues like "warmer" and "colder" to guide her.
  • Clean together (my kids always loved mopping!)
  • Play "Red Light, Green Light"
  • Make Play Dough
  • Do YouTube exercise activities like this one
  • Prepare a meal together
  • Bake dessert
  • Take a walk
  • Do a scavenger hunt (This one is super simple!)

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