Working remotely – it can be such a blessing but also such a hurtle. Because one, finding things for kids to do while you work from home can be a full-time job in and of itself. Secondly, if you’re anything like me, when you’re at home you have this constant reminder of ALL the things that need to be done. Now toss in kids being home on top of that. How are you supposed to be productive, mama?
Most children are not born knowing how to entertain themselves; it takes practice. Of course, kids would LOVE a Pinterest worthy day packed full with super exciting (and most likely require parental help) crafts, STEM activities, outdoor fun, and more! However, when our children settle down with these less exciting but still enjoyable activities, they expand their attention spans and begin learning how to keep themselves busy. So give yourself some grace and incorporate some of these easy, fun activities!
1. Art [Ages: Toddler and up]
Art projects can keep some kids occupied for hours. However, here’s my advice-keep it simple! For this to be an independent activity, children should be able to do most of the setup and clean up. For younger children it could be something as simple as coloring or tearing pieces of tissue paper and gluing them onto another paper.
2.Reading [Ages: Toddler and up]
If your child can hold a book, let them read. Put out new books for your child(ren) to read independently. Maybe they can’t quite read the words, but they certainly can read the pictures. Let them touch, explore, and get lost in the books. Change out the books every few days to keep your kiddo(s) engaged! At our house we currently just pulled out books related to: St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Easter, and germs.
3. Audiobooks [Ages: Preschool and up]
With audiobooks, kids can learn to appreciate the art of storytelling before they can read. Audiobooks can be expensive, but you can take them out of the local library either by checking out CDs or downloading them. Libby is also an amazing app where you can download audiobooks for free by logging into your local branch and entering in your account information! You could also look into podcasts.
4. Educational Games [Ages: Preschool and up]
There are so many wonderful educational games that keep kids thinking and keep their boredom at bay. Some of my favorites as a teacher were: Starfall, Khan Academy, MyON, ABC Mouse, PBS Kids, National Geographic Kids, Brain Pop, and Brain Pop Jr.
That being said, consider setting a time limit in advance and verbalizing that expectation with your child. Even educational games can be hard for children to disengage when it’s on a screen.
5.Naps/Quiet Time [All Ages]
Yes, all ages! Even school-aged kids need some quiet time to decompress and reset. During this time both of my children are in their rooms. My 2-year-old still naps (thank goodness!) and my 4-year-old enjoys her hour-long quiet time in her room. She can play, read, color, or just “chill out” as she says for an hour. We set the expectation that she is to be in her room and nowhere else during this time.
Personally, this is when I get the majority of my work done. I plan my work ahead and put all my “must-dos” during this time. Whatever I don’t get done during this time I finish after they go to bed at night.
6. Toys [Ages: Toddler and up]
Sounds obvious, but any parent who’s sifted through the toy box just after the holidays knows how quickly kids lose interest in their toys. Pull out some new toys that have been put away for a period of time. They will seem like new!
Board games, cards, construction toys, trains, playsets, and puzzles are just a few of the good toys that can keep kids engaged for an extended period of time. But sometimes they have to be reminded of these toys.
7. Free Imaginative Play [Ages: Toddlers and up]
This is not something you can mandate or count on necessarily, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing. Younger kids are naturals at this, creating elaborate fantasies with stuffed animals or action figures. With older kids, you can encourage imagination by suggesting they produce a play or write a story.
8. Playing Outside [Ages: All]
Everyone needs fresh air! Get those kids outside. Give them some suggestions on things they might do. For example, create an obstacle course, play in the sand, sidewalk chalk, ride a bike or scooter…the options are endless!
If it’s not nice outside, Cosmic Kids Yoga and spontaneous dance battles are our favorites.
9. Make Snail Mail [Ages: All]
Since we are being encouraged to keep social distance, have your child(ren) make cards for friends and/or family. You may even have them find a penpal to write to so they can receive mail as well. Not only will this keep them busy for quite some time but your loved ones will enjoy receiving it.
10. Virtual Play Dates [Ages: School Age]
Is your child missing his/her best friend? Schedule a short time for them to have a virtual playdate with their friend. They can read a book to one another, play a game, or just have a nice chat.
I know, working from home can be stressful, let alone with children at home. But try to remember a couple of things:
First, you are an AMAZING, strong mama. Second, this is temporary. Third, do not forget to soak up some quality time with those sweet and precious babes.