1. Go Outside: At least twenty minutes outside, preferably under trees, has invaluable physical, mental and emotional health benefits. Keep it simple, no need to have a plan because Mother Nature does.
2. Puppet Show: What?! I haven’t even changed out of my pajamas (for three days), I am not making puppets. Don’t. Your hands are the best puppets! Everyone knows at least one rhyme or simple song. Use your hands and body to teach it, warning, you will be asked to repeat this for the rest of childhood.
3. Read: Boundaries are good, especially at this time of uncertainty. Choose a time (in addition to your regular story-time routine.) Ask yourself in advance how many stories you are willing to read and the amount of time you can commit. Pick choices in advance. Perhaps have a hands-on activity planned, or a thematic snack, to follow that meets the theme. Call it Storytime, and it is official.
4. Messy Hands: Anything can be put in a sensory bin. Use a tray or wide mixing bowl and put some supplies out. Could be anything from cotton balls, water and food dye, pasta. Between your imagination and the internet, the ideas will flow. Set up with mess in mind, flat sheet that is easy to throw in wash could be good.
5. Clean: Your kids love to clean, especially if they are under three years old. May not be up to your standards, but you are not having house guests anyway. Hand over soapy water and a towel or a child-size broom or mop. (maybe you are cleaning up the messy play from number 4)
6. Squishy time: Good to have a supply of diverse squishy stuff: good smelling playdough (homemade or store-bought), kinetic sand, water beads, etc. (good to keep things novel, not out and accessible all the time, and some items may need close supervision—choose wisely.)
7. Active Play Outside: This outside time has a different quality than Go Outside Number 1. This is time for active play. Playing catch is one of the most whole-child, connection building, integrating activities parents can do with children. Roll catch works for littles ones.
8. Water play: This could mean extending average bath with new things such as bath fizzes—if your child is a bath lover–or offering a “floor sink.” Water is fun by itself, but possibilities are endless. Water is very calming and is a universal favorite toy.
9. Massage: Young children thrive with touch. Massage has been shown to increase communication and bond between mother and child. Even a nice foot massage, rolling around the ankles has enormous benefit. Most oils: almond, jojoba, coconut, etc. are appropriate with drop of essential oil even better. Maybe your little one will want to reciprocate—like cleaning they often do, bring your sense of humor and love.
10. Glue: Much like jumping in puddles, glue is a birthright. Glue is not offered nearly enough to children but is of enormous sensory and cognitive benefit. Anything at all can be done with glue. Buy a gallon of glue and keep an open mind.
Sanity Suggestion: Choose any one or two of the above daily and create a rhythm of day or structure around it. Perhaps it is, “at noon it’s (blank) time” or days of the week. This is very grounding, calming, and reassuring for the whole family.