Handling your toddler's afternoon slump

Alex O'Donoghue

Written by Alex O'Donoghue

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It's 3pm, and you are making your third instant coffee - on cue the wailing starts!

Your toddler has hit a wall and is letting you know at a pitch that makes you wince. What can you do ahead of time to manage the afternoons for both you and cranky kids? We've shared a few tips to  supplement what we're sure you're already handling with style. 

  • When you turn off screen time, or have no time for quality connecting, your children are going to act up. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to launch a one-hour activity set, do one meaningful game for 15 minutes. The purpose is simply to connect with your child, and challenge both of you to become present and explore a different part of the brain. Creativity works wonders! 

  • Create a play area, by spreading out toys near where you work, and put on some soothing music. Don't put out too many toys, and kick off the play session with your child, before resuming your own work/chores. It's helpful to set up a new play scene - it can be a circle of dolls, helping your child build a house out of cardboard or simply lining up a new arrangement of toys and kitchen items. We've seen parents rotating toys by putting some away for a week - this creates a new experience for children when they do appear.

  • Expect your child to get bored and act up. This is something that parents know all too well, and can be managed. Routine, routine, routine. If you repeat activities at a set time daily, and build in quiet time and a snack, your child will start to respond. This is not a rigid timetable of activities and entertainment for your child, but a way of building in boundaries for both of you to get on with your lockdown day in the best way possible. You don't have to write up hourly plans. Rather, break the day into chunks and display it somewhere visible, like the fridge. 

  •  We love GoNoodle. It is a free website that helps children channel their energy - from workouts to guided meditations and more. It's messaging is fun and most children adore it. They have tons of options for both teachers and parents.

The mid-afternoon slump might be happening several times a day as your toddler adjusts to the same (but different) "new normal" and absorbs the stress of change in a different way - children deal with new situations in different ways.

Do what you are able to do. This doesn't mean putting your children in front of the tv every single afternoon, but some days this is what needs to happen. Just try not to leave them alone without some adult connection for more than an hour. They might ignore you in favour of the TV, but sit next to them for a cuddle with a cup of tea and have a chat. 

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