'K' for Kids Parenting

Fidgets for Anxiety

Everything is upside-down and not normal, and asking a breezy “how are you?” seems a little funny. But, how are you? We’re getting through as best we can. Oak Park was the first municipality in Illinois to issue an official Shelter in Place order, which is in effect starting today through at least April 3.

If you’re working from home for the first time because of COVID-19, give yourself a lot of grace. I can give you recommendations for things that have worked for me if it’s wanted, but I think a lot of well-intentioned advice (like get dressed everyday and do your makeup/hair!) can safely be thrown right out the window. Things aren’t normal, and we’re all doing what we can to keep ourselves and others physically and mentally safe.

Parenting through a pandemic is of course another challenge on top of social distancing, sheltering in place, and quarantines. We are teaching the kids at home and the school district has been amazing, pulling together the week’s e-learning curriculum and giving the kids a sense of structure and community through video check-ins. Still, their routine has been upended and we’re trying to keep the kids informed without scaring them.

One of our kids had been struggling with anxiety this year. You know the fidget spinner craze from a few years back? They were never more than toys for our family, but through trial and error we found that tangles and fidget cubes were actually calming. We’ve since found other fidgets to be even better, and the kids and I have gotten really into solving puzzle cubes lately. (Speed cubes, rather than the officially branded Rubik’s cubes, are far nicer to use.)

You’ll find various fidgets throughout our house. There’s a drawer full in the living room, but they’re also in the kids’ backpacks, on their nightstands, and scattered in random places. They’ve been a helpful tool but we were losing some every few days as they disappeared at school. I figured there must be a bracelet or necklace — something wearable — and my search led me to these. We got enough for all three kids (extra small fit everyone), plus a few backups to keep on hand. They all think they’re fun and cute, but they also do the stress-relieving trick for the kid that needs it in particular.

Now of course, we’re all home. But hello, stress and anxiety! We’ve been preparing for you. I know fidgets are one minor thing in the face of something far larger, but I’m sharing a list of what has been helpful for us (and why) in hopes that it may be helpful for some of you, too. You may even have some of these already that you hadn’t thought about in a while — time to bring them back out.

Fidget Cubes for Anxiety Stress Relief
  1. Fidget Cube — This is what pushed fidgets out of the purely toy category for us when we realized how much they helped calm our kid.
  2. 12-Side Fidget Cube (Dodecagon) — THE BEST. Too big and distracting (and tempting) for school though, so this is an at-home-only option.
  3. Worry Stones — These are pretty and you get a bunch (a selling point because my kids lose things), but these are a little bigger and have a nice divot that feels soothing to rub your thumb along.
  4. Tangle Twister Fidget Toy — Another thing we used to think of only as a stocking stuffer or goodie bag toy that we have since found to be stress-relieving.
  5. Sensory Slap Bracelets — I bought these at the same time as the other bracelets, and two out of three prefer the other, but then one likes this slap kind.
  6. Sensory Fidget Bracelet (extra small) — Between the two bracelet styles, this is my recommendation. They’re not distracting in a classroom setting, so the kids can wear and have them all day. Bonus: they think they’re cute accessories.
  7. Infinity Cube Fidget Toy — This one holds the least interest in our house, but it can be nice to zen out to.
  8. Magic Speed Cube — So smooth! We also have this Jelly Speed Cube (a.k.a. “Mom’s cube, don’t lose it”), because I was in search of a prettier than average version. It’s hard to tell the green and blue apart sometimes though, doh.

Also? Screen time limits in our house are out the window for now. Animal Crossing is here. See you on the island, friends (yes, that’s me — I have a secret nerd account).

Stay safe. We’ll be here! (We, um, have to be.)

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  • Laura
    March 23, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Love this post. Many thanks!

  • Jenni o
    March 24, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    I have a fidgety child that goes from one bad habit to the next (spinning, then bouncing, then chewing on hair, then picking at lips), and was thinking something to distract her might help. I’m definitely going to try the bracelet first. Thank you for the recommendations!