Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Keeping the kids busy while you work at home

Working at home can be a real challenge when you have children; especially if they are not yet in school. You can’t just park them in front of the TV all day. Below are some tips to help your days go smoother.

Morning Rush Hour

By morning rush hour, I’m not talking about driving down the highway. I’m talking about the mad rush that goes on in most households in the morning as kids get ready for school and the spouse gets ready for work. By getting clothes and lunches ready the night before, you can avoid some of that morning insanity. If your children buy lunch, be sure the night before that you have the proper change on hand.

If you have little ones at home, put a small desk or table near your desk. This is your child’s desk. Give them a play phone, an old typewriter (or old computer), some paper, pencils, crayons, a calculator, and anything else you can dream up to keep them busy. Then, they can do their "business" while you do yours. Don’t forget to "pack their lunch!" Include juice boxes, snacks, and a sandwich for lunch. Then you won’t constantly be interrupted with requests for drinks and food. If your child is old enough, you can also keep a small pitcher in the fridge filled with their favorite drink so they can help themselves.

Set your timer for a predetermined amount of time when you and your child sit at your desks. When the timer goes off, the child knows it is time to spend with Daddy or Mommy. Read or play games for half an hour or so. Then pull out the playdoh or paint and let them have fun while you work another half hour or so. After lunch, put them down for a nap, and work some more.

Give them a box!

It’s a known fact that children love the boxes more than the toys. If you can get your hands on an appliance box, you can keep the kids busy for hours. The first thing you need to do is cut out some windows and doors for them. Then, depending how brave you are, you give them paint, markers or crayons to decorate the box. When they are through, they can play in the house.

If you don’t have a large box get some smaller ones. They make perfect houses for Barbie’s and other small dolls. Use old cereal and food boxes to create a village.

Put them to work

Children can help you with your business. My 12-year-.old daughter helps me by putting my contact information on brochures, putting stamps on mail, and cutting out flyers. She also loves to ride around with me putting out flyers. The reward? We go out to lunch afterward!

If you don’t have the kind of job that your children can help with, they can at least help out around the house. It will never hurt a kid to wash dishes, vacuum, clean a bathroom or mow the lawn. My boys also wash their own clothes. Having the kids do chores teaches them responsibility, that they must work to help the family unit, and also frees up time for you to work.

Toddlers and preschoolers love to clean! Give them a spray bottle with water and a rag and have them spray the refrigerator, dishwasher and other safe surfaces. They can also dust- every little bit helps.

Join a babysitting Co-op or arrange a play date for your children. A babysitting co-op is a group of like-minded parents who agree to share responsibility for watching each others' little ones while Mom or Dad goes to the doctor, does their shopping, or works in peace. On the same principal, you can arrange a play date for your child. My daughter often goes down to her friend’s house. She may stay there a few hours or all day. The next weekend, her friend will come here for several hours. This enables both sets of parents a little quiet time to work, whether at the desk or outside, or even to take for a nap.

When all else fails, do something wild and crazy !

The craziest thing I have ever done with kids was to bring the sandbox in the house. Seriously! I was doing home daycare at the time, and it had been a long, cold winter. The kids were getting antsy from being cooped up so much, and I wasn’t fairing much better.

I had the wild idea of bringing the sandbox inside. It had been emptied of sand in the fall and stored in the shed. I got some sand at the local hardware store, put the sandbox in the kitchen, and filled it. I put in some pails, shovels, and measuring cups. I had the children take their shoes and socks off and laid down the ground rules. Sand stayed in the box! I figured they would play for an hour and be sick of it. They played almost all day!

Believe it or not, when I went to clean up, it was a jif. I swept up the little bit of sand that was on the kitchen floor, and threw it out. The sand in the box was scooped with the buckets and shovels and put back in the bags in no time. The sandbox was put back in the shed. I vacuumed just in case some sand made it to the living room, and I was done. That was one of my most successful days doing daycare. I was actually bored! Imagine that!

Another time, I spray-painted a bunch of stones gold, and mixed them up with the sand in the sandbox. Giving children a sieve, I told them to pan for gold. They were busy for hours.

With a little patience and ingenuity, you can come up with ways to keep children busy while you work. Busy children are happy children. Happy children make for happy parents. Which makes for a happy home and workplace for all.


  1. These are great! Keep them coming. Following you from MBC.

  2. Oh, I need these ideas. I'm taking on some freelance work and am fretting on what to do with the kiddos! Found you and following thru MBC :).

  3. great advices! thinking about it...im lucky to be in the Philippines and have a "yaya" (or a carer) for my 4yr old to play with. i have all the time in the world to work work work as i want to...well, atleast undisturbed until i need to stop and give her my "quality time" ;)

    am dropping by from Anne's VGNO and im glad to be here.

    see you around?
    hope u visit my blogs too
    life round me N you
    earthy me

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