9 Ideas For Keeping Your Kids Busy While You Work

Strike action this week for parents of school age kids and then there are the holidays. When you work at home, you sometimes have to work with kids underfoot. Here are some ideas to keep them busy:

• Ask them to create a play in secret that they can perform for you when done.

Image credit OneTwo (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/onetwo)

My daughters love this one, the secret rehearsals can take a few hours. Props, toys, Wii all form part of the great play they will put on. Sometimes if they get loud with their arguing, I mean stage direction… I call out and say I can hear the secret play :) Good for school age kids.

• Have them sit beside you with a computer and toy phone and “play” work.

This was my favourite one when my 16 year old was little, it’s perfect for toddlers and kids in the first years at school, they love playing work :)

• Have special toys that they only get to play with while you’re working. Give one at a time, not all at once.

Ok, I’ll admit this one never worked for me but a friend of mine swears by it. She has a tub under her desk and a timer, the kids get to spend 15 mins playing and when the buzzer goes she lets them choose another one, lucky dip style. It works for her, it might work for you :)
• Older  kids- have them write out ideas of activities they can do without your help on scraps of paper and put them in a jar to pull out when needed.

Again the lucky dip idea, I like to through in a few icky ones like sweep the porch or tidy the car just to add a bit of extra excitement when we are doing the draw. Cake making and icing is never added to the jar, why should the kids have all the fun on their own???

• Set up a craft station near you.

This one is great for when you just have to finish something, it buys you precisely one hour of peace and quiet. Glue, glitter, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, fuzzy balls and paint… and if I am daring I’ll ask them to create something for me like a Christmas card or decoration for the tree. The downside? I’ll be hoovering glitter up for ages afterwards.

• Have special coloring books or activity books on hand only for this time.

Both my girls are dot to dot mavens. We have a special dot to dot session where we see who can complete the most, the neatest and the best coloured ones in just 30 minutes. We then put them up on the wall to make a gallery of all their hard work. Nothing makes them happier than seeing their creative outpourings praised :)
• Give them “homework” to do.

Over the summer holidays we had an hour of sums everyday and writing. It was a struggle but after the third day they got used to it and really enjoyed counting things around the house and garden adding three flowers to four flowers, counting how many bounces they can do on the trampoline in 30 seconds, writing practice. It soon becomes fun rather than homework.
• Ask them to wrap their toys up as presents and hold a birthday party for their favourite cuddly toy animal.

Originally this started out as a tea party for the dog. Whilst huddled over my laptop the dog climbed on the table and ate all the birthday party trimmings… so we progressed to cuddly toys and dolls. This works best when you make cupcakes and party food with them, then the treat is they get to have the party by themselves, just like grown ups do. This give you a good thirty minutes to get some work done.

• Have an older neighborhood child come over and play with them.

You can’t do this one too often, it has to be the icing on the cake. If the other parent is also a working mum she’ll be happy for the couple of hours quiet time and you will be happy for the time that you get. If you have the money then dropping them all off to the cinema works well (usually this works well for us as my eldest is 8 years older than her sisters and can happily be bribed to take them to the Pictures).

Working at home with kids can be rewarding, yet a challenge. Take a proactive stance and be ready with ideas to keep them busy.

Share with us in the comments what tips you have for working and keeping the kids occupied.




Mother of three wonderful girls aged 16, 7 and 6.
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