MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — All of our lives are different because of the coronavirus pandemic, even the lives of our kids. But how much is it affecting the youngest kids?

Cherish Lombard is sharing her personal story, thinking a lot of parents may be able to relate. She says she and her husband kept their 2-year-old son home with them for months during the pandemic. When they finally felt comfortable taking him into a store, they were surprised to see how excited he got! Cherish says it made her wonder how the pandemic could affect young children long term, and if there’s anything parents can do about it.

“It’s difficult for them. And so what I usually tell people, what I recommend for my families is, let’s start doing some fun stuff inside and outside the home in terms of exploring outdoors. So if that means going to the park in a stroller, taking them outside the house for storytime underneath a tree, start playing with mud like we used to do when we were kids. Do little adventure trips. Collect sticks and then mix it with playdough and do some things like that,” said Dr. Nina Ford Johnson, Infirmary Pediatrics.

For parents, sometimes it’s hard to know what our children are thinking and how they’re feeling, particularly when they aren’t developmentally ready to have a conversation. So how do we get through it? Dr. Johnson says we have to connect with our kids in any way we can, and she’s doing it herself as a new mother of triplets.

“Mine are 19-months. One book that I’m reading with my children in particular is called ‘Going on a Bear Hunt.’ And it talks about how we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we have to go through it. So even in the midst of that simple book, just reading it to them, it teaches them, hey, adversity and everything else will come but as your family we’re going to get through this together,” said Dr. Johnson.

She recommends getting your kids on a schedule to move their days forward.

“Same bedtime every single day. Wakeup time, same time every single day. Get them their breakfast, physical activities, lunch, chores, and then some social time,” she said.

And she suggests using this time to strengthen your children’s physical health, which will in turn strengthen their mental health.

“My niece just found out not too long ago how to ride a bike since this all started, and she’s 11. So, let’s start going back to how it was before. That Vitamin D is necessary for our mental health and for our bone growth and development and it helps them become physically healthy as well,” Dr. Johnson said.

She says she believes children as young as 2, maybe even a little younger, will remember this time. But the question remains, how will this time shape who they become? That is something only time will tell.