How To-sday: 8 ways to keep your kids busy so you can get stuff done

For me, working from home doesn’t mean I have a nanny in the other room watching my babies. I don’t have my husband at home working in the other room. For me, working from home means I am mothering and working at the same time.

So, you might ask, where are my kids when I’m interviewing mompreneurs or neurosurgeons or child welfare program directors? Today I’m going to tell you.

Please note that these methods can also be applied when mommy needs a shower, some space, or to finish the last couple of pages of her book. I will ask again, does this make me a bad mom? I don’t think so. I think it makes me a resourceful mom who gives her children lots of opportunities to grow their independence. At least that’s what I tell myself. So here are my 8 keys to freedom, in no particular order:

1. Play-Doh. Moms don’t love Play-Doh. Why? Because it’s messy, it’s messy and it’s messy. And it travels. I find Play-Doh all over my house; on the bottom of shoes, under couch cushions and smashed into bed-sheets. So I don’t get it out too often. When I do, my kids are glued and I can get through almost 15 minutes of a conversation before I am interruped. 15 minutes! That’s like two-and-a-half days in mommy time.

2. Butcher paper. I keep a big roll of butcher paper in my closet and once every so often (not too often or the shine wears off and you will lose minutes) I tear off a sheet, tape it to the wall and plop a bucket of crayons down next to it. It’s been really cool to see the things my kids have created together this way. Unfortunately, crayon tends to stray off the edge of the paper sometimes but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

3. SpongeBob. I don’t like SpongeBob but my kids do, so we compromise. I don’t let them watch it regularly but once every few weeks when I really need some time. And I get it!

4. Or “p-b-s dock ord,” according to Jack. This is brilliant because my kids will sit right next to me, one computer over, quietly sharing and learning for as long as I will let them.

5. Print some coloring sheets of your kids’ favorite things — for mine, it’s dinosaurs or Bakugans — and put them at the table with the crayons. Just google “dinosaur coloring sheets” or “spiderman coloring pages” to find just the right thing.

6. Keep a box of toys up out of your kids’ reach (for me it’s a special set of Legos) to pull down only on occasions when you need their attention completely diverted.

7. Believe it or not, this one really works and is my favorite for obvious reasons: Give your child a wet washrag or two or a small stack of baby wipes and assign him or her to wipe all the smudges off the walls. You will have to point them out in the beginning but this is one of my kids’ favorite things to do and will keep them busy for quite a while. And since they are only cleaning up their own handiwork you can feel like you are teaching them to take responsibility for themselves as well.

8. Popsicle sticks! Popsicle sticks and glue, popsicle sticks and markers, whatever the combination just add popsicle sticks and you’re good. Throw in pipe cleaners and it’s a party!

Once the fun of any of these activities wears off, be ready with a small stash of fruit snacks, string cheese, fruit leather or anything that will give you just a minute or two more to wrap up your project and you’re set!

I know I didn’t think of everything, so I will likely run a similar list again. Work-at-home-moms, what did I miss?


3 responses to “How To-sday: 8 ways to keep your kids busy so you can get stuff done

  1. Half of the Christmas loot is stashed up in the hall closet (including the train and tracks to the train table, heh). We’ll break them out in June and too hot to do anything else.

  2. Think Bs—blocks, books, balls and baskets.Handled baskets full of small musical instruments or books can be carried by kids from room to room, and enjoyed while mom has shower, telephone or computer time. Read, read, read with your kids–and they will learn that books are trusty companions they can carry along to make alone time inspiring time, whether they are toddlers or teens.

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