Pandemic Living with Young Kids: 7 tips to surviving

So, first off, please notice I said “surviving” and not “thriving.” HA.

Yes, I’m finding some amazing things about pandemic living. The slow pace and few commitments for example, truly are helping my kids thrive. However in general… I am personally not thriving, lol. Before the pandemic, I had a lot of scheduled help – babysitter, grandparents, preschool, doggy daycare… I had perfectly set up our days so I could manage to get everything done PLUS have time to myself. Now… not so much.

That being said, there are definitely things that are helping me survive (and perhaps occasionally thrive) during this pandemic. And yes, some measures are relaxing but it’s looking like at least a year where we’ll be living a different life and finding a new normal. Here are a few things that have helped:

  1. I hold firm to my boundaries.

Whether it’s a request for MORE snacks, a new toy or whatever… you’re allowed to say no. Whether you’re saying yes constantly because you feel guilty about the situation, you just don’t have the energy to say no or whatever else, it’s seriously more exhausting that setting boundaries. The thing with saying “yes” when you don’t want to, is it’ll cause you to lose your cool eventually. So stick firm with your boundaries. Your kids want another snack even though we’re only half an hour away from lunch time? Kindly tell them no (or as I like to do, don’t even say no), “yes, it’s almost lunch time so we’ll be eating soon. Would you like to help me put lunch together?” “You want that new toy? Wow it sure does look like fun, should we add it to your birthday wish list?”

  1. Don’t start something you won’t have the energy to finish.

When this pandemic thing started I got excited to organize my house. I’m not really sure why? Lol. Perhaps it was everyone on Instagram starting a new project in quarantine. Well you know what? Someone with no help, two kids, a dog and pregnant does not have time for big projects. I quickly realized I couldn’t start a project I didn’t have the energy to finish. That being said, I have done many small organizing projects around the house and it’s been amazing. But it’ll be something I can get done during one nap time – organizing the pantry, clearing out my bathroom cupboards – that sort of thing.

  1. It’s okay to have bad days.

Expecting that everyone in your house is going to be happy all the time, just isn’t realistic. You’re going to have bad days, your kids are going to have bad days, it’s just inevitable. And that’s okay. I have stopped trying to cheer everyone up. Being everyone’s (including my own) cheerleader was an exhausting role and it’s not one I want anymore. I can make choices that could help moods – outdoor time, a shower for myself but I’m not going to try and fix attitudes.

  1. Get a routine.

I know a lot of people who downright refuse to make a schedule and think it’s ridiculous. If that works for you, then awesome. If you’re struggling, then I highly suggest making a routine. Don’t bother with a schedule (up at 7, tv time until 7:45, breakfast 8am, etc) and go for a routine instead (up, tv time, breakfast, etc). My kids always know what to expect. Young children thrive on having consistency. So get out a pen and a paper and literally write out the routine you’re aiming for. Or better yet, write it on a white board. See if it’s a realistic routine you can stick with. Erase and redo as needed. I had to change around my routine a few times before I figured out what worked best for our family.

  1. Bento lunch.

Usually while the kids are eating breakfast and the kitchen is still messy, I’ll make the kids a bento lunch. Then, at 10am when they’re already hungry, they can sit down and pull out their bento box/plate. Whatever doesn’t get finished at snack time, they can have at lunchtime. I rarely make a warm lunch, it’s just too exhausting making three big meals a day and mucking up the kitchen three separate times. If the kids complain about what’s in their bento, then they’re welcome to help me put it together the next day. But in my opinion, if you’re not helping make the food, then you don’t get to criticize the food, lol.

  1. Help with mealtime.

On that note, get your kids to help make meals. This doesn’t work as well for me in non-pandemic times because there’s usually more urgency to our day. But these days, time just ticks on by so anything that takes up more time is ideal. So this morning for example, I gave the kids a banana each while they watched their morning show so they wouldn’t be starving and whiny and then we made pancakes all together for breakfast. The bonus, usually when they help make the food, they eat more of it. By the time we had eaten and cleaned up, it was already 10am. Woohoo! Morning complete. Same goes for dinnertime. I’ll put out some veggies to snack on and then the kids can help me make dinner. The key for me to having young kids help in the kitchen is preparation. Prepare your ingredients and prepare yourself mentally, HA. Things won’t go smoothly, messes will be made… but whatever. Then cleaning up the mess – bowl of soapy water and a scrub brush can take up your next hour with the kids.  But seriously, if you need to do some heavy breathing while sucking back a glass of wine before you cook (hopefully dinner, haha) with your kids, then do it.

  1. Take time for yourself.

You can’t keep emptying an empty cup. But the problem with pandemic living is when do you have time to fill your cup? I wake up an hour before the kids so I can drink two cups of coffee, eat breakfast and scroll my phone. Then when they’re watching their morning TV, I shower, make my bed and put on makeup while listening to a podcast. This sets the tone for my entire day and makes me feel human. I also take time for myself while the kids nap/have quiet time. I make myself another pot of coffee, a big salad and either watch a favourite show or get some work done. The key though, this time has to be built into your day. Think back to number 4, routine. Make sure your routine includes time for YOU.

What about you? What are things that have helped you survive pandemic living?

Written by Alex Turner