A lot of us parents are now easing into the “new normal” of working from home with the country in a state of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the transition of merging work and home life is proving to be a tad difficult, it becomes even more challenging when we have to worry about ways to keep kids busy for us to work in peace. A lot of parents feel that it’s impossible! The thing is, it’s only impossible when you continue operating in the “can’t do” mindset. This inevitably makes you hit a dead-end and makes you frustrated. Things start to change for the better, and get easier over time, when you ask yourself, “How can I make this work?”
Here are some tried and tested things you can have your kids do to keep them preoccupied:
The Old Trick That Always Works: Playdough
Give your kids playdough to create fun sculptures. The great thing about playdough is that it can be used over and over again for hours.
My Kids’ Favorite: Wooden Blocks
Wooden blocks and Lego-like toys also have endless possibilities. Your kids can make pretend cities and obstacle courses for their other toys to go through.
Let ‘Em Paint!
Set up a corner in the house where your kids can create art with enough scratch paper, brushes water, and paint. Motivate them by telling them you will hang it up on the refrigerator or a makeshift gallery.
Drop Everything And Read, or D.E.A.R. Time is perfect if you want to get your kids to catch up on reading and comprehension skills. Bring out their storybooks and create a mini library in your home! Setting a comfy nook in the house to read will help them get into the mood to read.
Give D.E.A.R. Time A Spin With Audiobooks
Have the kids wind down with some audiobooks. This is a great option if your kids really enjoy storytelling.
Kids can make their own stories come to life on paper. This is perfect if your children are very imaginative and have a knack for creating their own adventures.
Old School Verbal Games
You know the ones we used to play with our friends growing up? Some examples are naming an animal/country/object for every letter of the alphabet. Games like this will keep them occupied for a good while as they come up with new themes.
Sensory bins are plastic tubs full of various child-friendly items with varying textures and sizes. You can fill it with water, beads, uncooked pasta, colored rice, buttons, toys, and more! You can get creative and go with a theme for each box and make it into an educational tool, too.
Let Their Imagination Work With Cardboard Boxes
Sometimes, toys will lose the excitement and fun they once held over time. But a cardboard box has endless possibilities. Your kids can turn them into practically anything with the help of their imagination.
No Cardboard Boxes? Use Popsicle Sticks!
Kids can create all sorts of crafts with popsicle sticks and glue. You can print out little projects for them to copy.
Build A Fort!
Let your kids use pillows, blankets, and chairs to create a fort in the house. Letting them build their own space allows them to engage in pretend play.
Enlist Their Help With Chores
Give your kids their own set of chores or have them help you with the easier tasks involved in prepping dinner (washing vegetables or cutting the parts of vegetables you need), doing the laundry (sorting the whites from the colored), and cleaning the house (putting things back where they belong). It may take some practice, but you’ll be surprised how much you get done with their help!
Assign Them An Important Task That Will Help You
This would be ideal for your bigger kids. If your work involves a lot of paper that needs sorting (or shredding), you can brief your kids on which papers should go where. Kids love doing tasks when they know they are helping their parents get something done with their own work.
Kids Getting Uneasy? Send Them Out To Play.
Let your kids expend their energy out in the garden. Allowing them to shake off any restlessness makes it easier for them to focus on other indoor activities.
Give your kids the responsibility of nurturing your plants and garden. Letting them take care of living things helps them develop a sense of responsibility and care. It also encourages them to spend more time outdoors and not stay cooped up with their gadgets.
But here’s my favorite trick in my list of ways to keep kids busy so I can work…
I find that what works the most is “Stay, play, then walk away.” Children tend to act out when they feel like they want more time with their parents. It’s always good to fill their love tank first so they’re not always asking for attention. Once they’ve received enough attention and time from you, they will be contented playing on their own.
It’s also worth mentioning that establishing a routine is very helpful. It’s going to be difficult at first, but once the family gets a hang of it, things get easier. Routines also help keep kids’ expectations in check and, as a result, they have fewer tantrums. When they know it isn’t time to, let’s say, use their iPad or borrow your phone, then they won’t push it.
Work out routines and schedules that everyone is agreeable with and have it written and posted where they can see it. Not only does this help them learn how to manage their expectations, but it also helps them learn to manage their time and develop healthy habits.
If all else fails, work in pockets of time. (This is what I do!) It’s not super ideal, but when you have little ones, you can only really do a power work session every 15-20 minutes when they’re awake, and 2-3 hours when they nap really well. Make sure you remain focused (stay away from social media and other distractions) and have a plan so you know what you need to do during your pockets of time.
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