When you work from home, trying to keep an eye on your kids while trying to work can be stressful and counterproductive. If you’re going to get work done while your kids are home (and not sleeping), it’s important to create an environment where you can be your most productive but also keep your kids safely entertained. Here are some tried-and-true ways to keep kids busy while you work at home.
WAHMs Share Tips from the Trenches: Keep Kids Busy While You Work at Home
I asked my fellow work-at-home moms how they manage to keep their kids busy while they work. Here’s what they shared:
Liz said: “Coloring/doing simple crafts at the table nearby, playing in the fenced backyard (I can see pretty well through the window), getting down a toy bin (blocks, legos, animals, puzzles, etc), movies, lol… lots of working with a toddler on my lap.”
Kim said: “If my youngest is home, the older girls ‘babysit’ her. But my oldest is 13. That doesn’t always work because she’s very attached to me, but when it’s good weather they take her outside to play and that usually gives me 30 min-1hr. at a time. Otherwise if I’m desperate, it’s usually an iPad…”
Peg said: “Honestly? I don’t. I pawn my kids off to [a friend]. I need large blocks of time to get my work done. It’s the way my brain works. I don’t even try anymore. (And when I do try, something bad happens. Like they let the dog get into whatever she wants just so they can “see what she’s capable of.” Or they have peeing contests. And then there was the “swirly” incident that involved putting their heads in a toilet.”
Rachel shared this post of no prep activities so you can get dinner done, saying “they work just as well for getting “work” done. And my little one is currently OBSESSED with leap frogs phonics farm so I can sneak in 20 minutes of work when she watches that in the morning.”
Sara said: “Busy Bags!”
As you can see, there’s not one solution to this problem that most work-at-home moms experience. Finding what works for you and your kids is important in order to make the most of each day and to keep kids busy while you work at home.
More Ways to Keep Kids Busy While You Work at Home
While you don’t want to ignore your kids all day long in order to get your work done, it’s okay to schedule independent play time into your kids’ daily routine where you can work for an hour or two while they play nearby. Here are some additional ways to keep your keep kids busy while you work at home…
Designate a Play Room/Toy Area
Create a space within your home where there are a variety of toys, books, and puzzles to keep your kids busy while you work. Puzzles tend to keep them busy. Books can hold their attention. They can learn the value of independent play while using their imagination. They will begin to think of this as their play area and naturally want to spend time there.
Set your work station up nearby in order to keep an eye/ear on them. I use a playpen or play yard to keep my littlest kids contained if I’m not able to be in the room with them while they’re playing (though I’m never out of hearing range).
The toy room won’t hold their attention for hours on end, but you can usually manage to get some work done while they play.
Schedule Play Dates
Hosting a play date may seem like a counter-productive idea, but it can work if done correctly. Inviting other children over to play can provide your kids with playmates and take their attention off you so you can do some work.
Do you have older children? Get them involved with helping to keep the younger ones busy. They can build forts, watch movies, or play dress-up inside. Sending the kids outside to play is another great option. If you can bring your work outdoors, you can be productive while they play and enjoy the fresh air.
I’ll often take my kids to the local playground to play while I sit at a picnic table and work. I keep an eye on them while they play with their friends and complete some of my less intensive work.
Although this may be the messiest of the suggestions, your kids will love finger painting, coloring with crayons, and making you other works of art to hang up on the wall. Set up a special “art” studio for them placing a big sheet on the floor (to avoid a huge mess). Have crayons, poster board, stickers, and other safe art supplies to inspire their creativity.
Online Educational Games
If your children are able to use a computer or tablet, there are several wonderful online learning sites where they can play educational games. They can have fun and learn while keeping them from distracting you because they are bored.
SmartFeed is a great (and free!) resource for parents that helps find and evaluate the appropriateness of apps and learning games (as well as books and movies) based on kids’ ages and interests. Sign up for free –> Get SmartFeed
Keeping Kids Busy as a WAHM
Kids are a bundle of energy that keep us going constantly throughout the day. Not all of these suggestions to keep kids busy while you work at home will work for every child or situation, but with a little imagination you can put together a plan to keep even the most rambunctious member of your family busy for an hour or two.
Keep in mind that it’s important to not get so engrossed in your work that you neglect your kids safety or don’t make time throughout the day to spend with them. Kids have their own schedule and we, as parents, need to be sensitive to their needs. Not every day is going to run smoothly, so flexibility is a must when you work at home!
Coming soon…Being Successful as a Work-at-Home Mom!
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