With two tiny humans in the house, isolation is reminding Natalie Moutafis of some important lessons – including children are like puppies, and ‘staying at home’ fun.
We’ve been in isolation for just over a month now, with both kids not at childcare and both grown-ups working from home alongside them. It’s made for some interesting times. Here are a few things I’d forgotten about amongst the chaos:
One: Children are basically puppies
If you don’t take them out for a run to stretch their legs, they end up bouncing off the walls (or couch or bed) and you find yourself asking them to get down more than you thought was possible. They need routine, and they need fresh air and wide-open space (which is also socially distant appropriate) to run wild and free and not be told to sit down.
Two: Children are basically puppies, part two
They need to be fed and watered more than you think. I know, you’d think I’d know this by now But you kind of forget that they are used to the regular routine meal times that happen at childcare (or back in the days when you weren’t busily trying to work from home, prevent a toddler from barging in on conference call with no pants on, set up craft activities that are also educational, read a story, get the baby to sleep or simply attempt to maintain some order in the home). They get hangry and you soon remember, but it’s best to have a few snacks prepared ready to go and water bottles always filled and within reach (this also works very well for the grown-ups!).
Three: It’s okay to be bored
Let them be bored. It’s good for their imagination, and the more you do it the more they find new ways to entertain themselves. This is one I sometimes struggle to let happen, but I find if I step back a little, the toddler quickly finds something of interest. It’s usually role-playing out real-life scenarios with his toy cars or Duplo or rediscovering a favourite book to ‘read’ on his bed. Of course, this doesn’t really work for the baby. She is always returning to home-base aka my lap, checking in to make sure all is well with her world before toddling off again for a few minutes to discover another leaf that’s blown in onto our balcony or bang on the closed door where the conference calls are happening. She’s learning though, and the more I let her explore and just ‘be’, the more she too will find things to do on her own.
Four: Little people have big ears
Off the back of number three and the role-playing, we’re realising more and more how much of a sponge these kids can be. They absorb everything. When we stop and listen to the dramatic role-playing, we hear our own conversations replayed and our roles played out too. It’s an eye opener as to what we say and do and how these little people pick up on it. It also goes to show that when you don’t think they are listening or paying attention, they really are – they just take that much longer to process it.
Five: Love them a bit more
It’s becoming the new normal all this staying at home business, but these tiny humans are still missing their old life. They miss going to childcare or school, playing sports, seeing their friends at the playground, even going to cafes for baby chinos. They need our love and reassurance that everything is and will be, okay. It can be scary for a little person to see grown-ups worried or upset about something, so taking the time to play, hug and step away from the screens can make a world of difference to how everyone gets along at home.
Six: We’re making memories
It’s a strange time and while my children are young and don’t fully understand it, they will look back at photos and they won’t necessarily remember us ‘staying at home’ but the fun we had. How we would race and tackle each other on the local footy oval, how we FaceTimed our playgroup friends to say ‘hi’, built cubby houses out of blankets and couch cushions and played keepy-uppy with balloons until we cried from laughing so much. These aren’t just isolation days; these are the only days we will get with our children while they are this little – tomorrow they will be that little bit older.
Natalie Moutafis is an ISV staff member, mother of two young children, and author of the Tiny Humans blog.