Keeping a Toddler Occupied During Quarantine

Luke is almost three years old. He’s incredibly smart, energetic, and not a fan of boredom. The idea of keeping him at home when he would much rather be out exploring a grocery store or visiting his relatives for an extended period of time seemed like a nightmare. It certainly isn’t easy.

He’s had to make big adjustments to his life. Instead of going to his grandparent’s house every weekday while we work, he’s been stuck at home. His near-daily trips to the grocery store have also suddenly come to a halt. For the most part, his life was upended by this situation.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of all is his sudden inability to visit the playground. Our neighborhood is littered with playgrounds and he loves going to them. It’s our weekend tradition, and when every day is a weekend day, he wants to go to constantly.

He’s taken it as well as any two-year-old can. He’s more irritable than usual, and he’s showing signs of boredom with the toys he has here at the house. Keeping him occupied is a challenge, especially since we’re both pretty busy during the day.


Luke is used to taking walks with his grandmother. In her absence, we’ve been putting aside time each day to walk around the neighborhood with him. I took him to our artificial lake for a bit to look at the rocks and ducks. His mother walked him around the block in search of adventure.

Getting him outdoors makes a huge difference in his attitude. He’s awake, smiling, and taking in all the sights and sounds the world provides.

Sidewalk Chalk

This activity came by way of his Aunt, Becky. She stopped by momentarily to drop off some essentials for him during our stay-at-home period. Included in them was a bundle of sidewalk chalk.

While yes, his pants get covered in chalk, he can doodle and write squiggly lines to his heart’s content. All while maintaining a safe distance from crowds and enjoying being outside of the house for a bit.

Our front porch even looks like a piece of modern art!

Watching the Same Cartoons on Repeat

Luke is obsessed right now with Cars. Not just the four-wheeled vehicles, but the cartoon series featuring Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy. If Cars is playing on TV, he’s playing with his car toys and repeating the lines of the movie for us to hear.

While yes, it does get a little annoying at times, it does help him to forget that he’s stuck at home for a while. It also gives us a little break when we need to get things done.

Car Rides

Luke loves to go on trips. Hopping in the car and driving around allows him to look at other traffic on the road and point out trucks and buses that pass by. City buses are less frequent right now, but when we do spot one, he goes crazy for it.

There are a handful of billboards near our home that he enjoys seeing, too. One, a Cracker Barrel ad, features two eggs being cooked sunny-side-up. He giggles and screams with delight whenever he sees them.

Anything and Everything

While watching his mother and I work on our computers, Luke decided that he wanted to work, too. So, I did what any geeky father would do. I grabbed a Raspberry Pi from the closet, an extra monitor, speakers, etc. He spent hours typing away on HackerTyper happily working alongside his parents.

This situation has brought us closer together as a family. It’s changed our daily routines in a big way, but it has also given us a better understanding of how Luke thinks and responds to changes in his life.

While there is very little to celebrate about the COVID-19 virus, it did give us a reason to pause and enjoy each other’s company in a way we would have otherwise not thought about.

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Ryan Matthew Pierson