Just under a year ago my family and I moved from Auckland to Papamoa. In a matter of days I went from having a nearly 3 year old in full time day-care (which he been in since 9 months old) to being a stay at home Mum. Even as a Early Childhood Teacher, I can tell you those first few weeks with no friends or extended family, and not a lot of disposable income for activities, was bloody hard! Essentially my role as a parent changed and I wasn’t prepared for it.

So, I thought I would share some tips for those with little ones at home. Everyone’s situation is unique. Some have to work from home, others are single Mum’s and others are now struggling with no or limited income. Whatever your situation It is a huge adjustment, so go easy on yourself.

1. Get into a good routine. Children function best when they have predictability. Meals and sleep should be pretty much around the same time each day. If you know your day care routine try and stick with that.

2. Set boundaries and ensure your child knows what they are and the consequence. Decide on a few key ones which are important to you, too many Is unrealistic and it means you spend all day policing, which is no fun for anyone. Boundaries should have natural consequences. “To help keep the house clean, I need you to pick your toys up once you have finished playing with them. If you choose not to then I will put them away until tomorrow morning.” Remind your child of the rule in context and set a limit on the number of times you will ask. You might choose to give 3 reminders for instance. Don’t be surprised if they throw a tantrum. They are still learning on how to manage their emotions.

4. Name emotions. Once the tantrum starts ride it out. Now is the time to just be there. Offer hugs and support and then wait for your child to calm down. Once they have you can talk to them about their emotion and validate their feeling. “You were pretty upset I put your toys away. I put them away because you chose not to pick them up when asked.”

5. Be the calm in the storm. Easier said than done, but your child is looking to you for guidance and if your emotions are running high, it’s going to take longer for your child to calm down.

6. Teach your child to breath. Ever been told to calm down when your upset or angry? Did it work? Teach your child to breathe to help calm their body. One technique I use is blowing out candles. Have your child put up five fingers. Full their tummy up with air, like a balloon, and then blow out each candle (finger). This needs to be taught when your child is calm and happy so it can be implemented when they are upset. It won’t work in full meltdown, but if it’s implemented when you see emotions rising it could prevent one.

7. Keep it positive. You can’t set hard boundaries for everything, so with soft boundaries (things that come up during the day) keep it positive. “Walk inside please, if you feel like running you can go outside.”

8. Fill your child’s cup. The idea behind this is your child wakes every day with an empty cup, so throughout the day you need fill it by offering praise. Your child can also fill their own cup by doing nice things etc. negative things dip into a child’s cup, so keep it full with lots of positive comments.

9. Limit screen time. Sometimes you need a break and putting on Paw Patrol is the only thing to keep your sanity. Then do it, but set a limit and stick to it. You know your child best and what they can handle. I found too much tv increased meltdowns!

10. Get active. Change the mood. Turn the music on and release those emotions.

11. Get outside. Luckily in lockdown we still have the option of heading to the beach and going for a walk (as long as you are still implementing social distancing). Going to the beach on a rough day was my sanity.

12. Be mindful when playing with you’re children. Again, this will fill their cup, making it easier to have ‘you time’ later.

13. Make time for yourself. Even if that is after lights are out. Run the bath, light some candles, tomorrow is another day and you get to make new choices.

Feel free to message me if you need to bounce ideas off me, while we all adjust to our new circumstances.

All the best.

Rebecca Mathews

From the Paua Room