Easily one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How do you manage to entertain your kids and work from home?” This comes in a few variations but usually, it’s from other mums who also work from home or are dealing with toddlers who are sick and trying to catch up while working from home. I want to state this very cleary from the start, every child is different. What works for my kids may not work for yours but maybe you can adapt these ideas to suit your child’s personality. I hope this inspires you to come up with some creative solutions of your own and if you do please share them because I am always on the lookout for new ideas.
The nine activities that I use are:
1 – Activity Boxes
I have a number of activity boxes that are packed with different activities that the girls (2 and 3 years old) can do at the dining table while I work on the laptop. These are shoe boxes that I decorated or IKEA boxes with a lid. These are always my first port of call in an emergency. It’s much easier to occupy the girls at a dining table so I can work in the same space. These boxes are filled with:
- Stamp Kits: Paper, ink pads and stamps. I got mine from This is Knit and Easons and I use them for both the girls’ entertainment and my bullet journal. They play away while I work and if it ends badly then everyone ends up in the shower.
- Colouring kits: Pencils paper and sticker books are always a favourite.
- Play-Doh Kits: or homemade playdough and old plastic chopping boards for them to use as a base.
The best part about these kits is that you can put whatever your child is interested in, in these boxes and pull them out when you need an extra half hour on the laptop.
2 – Lego / Wooden Blocks
I can’t believe how often my girls have just built towers over and over again. They play together and apart. They have a system, one builds and one tears it down and fixes the blocks all in a row but it works.
3 – Post It Box
I’m not sure where I found this one but oh boy has it saved me a few times. This is an old shoe box that I covered in wrapping paper and when I get junk mail I fold it and pop it in. Then, usually, my youngest will take the lid off and open all of the ‘mail’ while ‘reading’ it. She then tries to pop it all back in the envelopes and then posts it back in the box. As this became a favourite, I got a second box for her to post into as well.
4 – Dress Up / Make Believe
I know this seems a little crazy but depending on the girls’ mood, if I dress them up and give them wands or wings they love flying around the house. We use the hall as a flying/landing strip and the girls happily play together. I have music on the laptop that rotates and they have to change their play to suit the music.
5 – Empty Boxes
I cannot stress this enough, never ever throw out empty boxes until your kids have played with them. They can colour on them, play hide and seek and if big enough you can cut out windows and use as a playhouse. The box our Dyson hoover came in was gold for entertaining the kids. They just liked to crawl through it over and over again. Then they would fight as to who got to sit in it. I added plastic balls from the ball pool at one stage too and they loved it. The best thing is it just goes into recycling when they are board. For this reason I have started looking at cardboard toys as usually they get bored after a while so instead of having more toys stacking up in boxes in the playroom I can just recycle it instead.
6 – Beech Walk / Excercise
This may seem counterproductive as you want to sit and write but if your kids are full of beans and you need to sit and wok then it will go much better if you can wear them out first. I will take them for a beach walk and let them walk until they start moaning at me to go home. Then when I get back I have the activity boxes set up on the dining table or sometimes they just want a nap. Either way, I get my two hours to work so I’m happy.
The Aquadoodle was a gift for T’s birthday but my kids love it. It’s a giant mat with a pen that you fill with water and you just let them draw and scribble on the mat. We got a second pen when my second child wanted to start playing with it as they are rather impatient when so young. This was amazing when my girls were too young for crayons. It only works on the mat and you just dry the mat when they are done.
8 – Indoor Picnics
We have both indoor real and pretend picnics were the girls have to lay out the blanket and set places for them to sit. This is great for teaching them skills and for keeping them occupied. Usually, it starts as pretend and then ends up with them asking for sandwiches or fruit which is great because if they are eating them they are quiet.
9 – Movie Time
I put this last on my list as it really is my last resort but when I need quiet time for a phone call or I have something I need off my desk quickly I do use the TV as a babysitter. I pop their favourite movie on and I pop in earbuds and work away from the sofa. I can see what they are up to and I can work at the same time. The problem then is trying to turn off the TV once I’m finished. I don’t like them having too much screen time in a day so usually, this is for when they are quiet and in need of quiet time.
There is no magic formula, there are days when my kids are upset and in need of mommy and there is nothing I can do and work gets shoved into the hours when they are worn out and sleeping. I fit my work around what is needed at home though when my kids were smaller, I was doing both at the same time but they usually slept more or on could play on playmats. I hope this post inspired some creative ideas of your own.