Working from home is every mom’s dream. Right?
You don’t have to waste time commuting; instead you get to spend every single waking hour with your little babies! I mean, that’s why you became a mom in the first place, right? Because you want your kids by your side 24/7??
Hah! What a laugh. Sorry, but I’m a HUMAN mom. Which means I need things like breathers and alone time and me-moments and glimpses of sanity!
And for a #workfromhomemom, it means I need time to do my work. You know, that thing that puts $$ in my bank account so I can pay the bills? HAHA hard to forget about that lol.
So what do you do when you’ve got kids to deal with, especially all day, every day, whether it’s because of a Covid-19 lockdown or just another looooooong unending summer vacation?
Well, here are 5 tips to keep your kids entertained while you work from home:
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1) Keep the supermarket stocked up
Your home should literally have aisles filled with drinks and snacks so you’ll never be caught off guard if someone whines about being hungry or thirsty. And stuff that will actually keep them a little bit filled, so not a bag of air with a side of chips! Think fruit, yogurt cups, biscuits, muffins, nut bars… Whatever that is easy to eat and that they could probably handle on their own. That’s why cereal is not in this list. Because we all knows what happens why kids try to prepare their own cereal bowl. Hardly anything gets in the bowl. Tons outside of it, of course. LOL
If possible, keep the snacks and drinks on reachable shelves and let them know where everything is. Also include a firm warning about not eating and drinking EVERYTHING at one go, because you know they’re gonna try.
2) Use a timer
My mother-in-law gave me a kitchen timer one Christmas. It’s a cute little ladybug timer, so adorable. But I’m used to using my oven timer whenever I’m cooking in the kitchen. So my cute little ladybug is now my Time With/Without Mama timer. It goes to max 60 minutes (old school, isn’t it!) so when I turn it all the way around, it means I get 60 minutes to work.
In those 60 minutes, my son can play on his own, watch something on his tablet, play outside, disturb the dog, sweep the floor with his butt… I don’t really care! Obviously I do look around and check on him now and then just to make sure he doesn’t have a fork in the electrical outlet.
Then the timer goes off and we celebrate, hoorah! It’s time for Mama to stop working and for us to do something fun together. A puzzle, activity book, a little reading, a board game, doesn’t matter what as long as he gets my full attention** (The ** are because it’s really hard to give him my FULL attention, part of my brain is still thinking of work! But I try very, very hard to make him my priority!).
We play together for as long as I’ve set the timer on for, depending on the activity, but usually 15-20 minutes, sometimes 30 minutes if needed. Then the alarm goes off, and he’s all sad, but hey, it’s fair. Mama has to go back to work now.
I do this both (both time with me and without me) using the timer because I don’t want the timer to become a well-liked or hated thing. I don’t want him to associate it with time with me OR without me. This way, it’s just a neutral thing that we can totally trust.
3) Stock up on activities
Every time there’s a sale, something’s on discount, I happen by the discount store – I grab a few activities. New books with fun pictures, interactive books, search books, colouring books, activity books, sticker books, water magic paint books, scratch art papers, sand art kits, shrink plastic kits, magnet kits… OMG the list goes on.
Some of them are for him to play with on his own – even with the water magic paint books, he knows where he can grab a cup of water and a brush and that can keep him occupied for a while! It’s best to do each activity with them once or twice before so they already know how to do it, and can now do it on their own.
Some of the others, like the kits, are more of stuff for us to do together, but it’s great to have exciting stuff like this, or new puzzles or card games, to look forward to each time Mama is let out of work prison!
4) Let them work too!
“What does Papa do for work?” I asked my son once. “Papa goes outside and drives his car and then a bus.” (He’s completely right, my husband is a bus chauffeur.)
“And what does Mama do for work?” – Proceeds to put both hands up and moves his fingers quickly up and down. Yes, clearly Mama is either a copywriter or a piano player (I do not play the piano alas). What can I say, he’s not wrong! Haha
Sometimes my son likes to “work” too alongside Mama. So he gets a little desk of his own, a little work chair, an old keyboard (just pretend to plug in the cable *somewhere*, better still if it’s wireless), his very own workbook, and a pencil or pen. He also gets some blue light glasses that I have lying around. You know, to add to the preppy work look.
Ahem, excuse me, this ain’t no game; he gets very serious about work! He might even get into a pretend car and get stuck in traffic and honk on his horn a couple of times before reaching work, apologising for his lateness – “That’s totally fine, Eden, just get to work,” I’ll say – before taking out his workbook and pen and scribbling all sorts of important Things to Do and Meeting Agenda’s for the day.
After a while, he’ll announce that he’s done A LOT of work and he’s tired and then he’ll retire to the couch or his play mat and that’ll be the last I’ll see of my colleague for a bit. But it’s kinda nice to have that, even if just for a little while. 🙂
5) Bribe them!
Hey, I already said I am a very human mom. I am not above bribery lol.
This is something I pick up whenever I see “reward”-type things on discount too. Stickers, PEZ dispensers in characters I know he likes, little mystery eggs (gosh there are a ton of those!), slime jars, little growing dinos, etc. Just get a couple of things you know they might like, but that are super affordable, provide them some kind of secondary learning, or interactive/sensory experience, and will be something “worthy” of good behaviour to attain them!
I don’t give one after each work session, of course. Only at the end of the day, if he’s been such a good boy and allowed me to work, and not gotten into any mischief, eaten all his dinner, and brushed his teeth, and gone to bed (smoothly). THEN he gets a “surprise” the following day.
I know, I know, you’re all on my back right now going “OMG I can’t believe you made him do ALL those things and still denied him his reward???”
Haha okay, okay, I’ll explain myself!
I do it this way because:
1) I want him to do all the other things too – eat dinner, brush his teeth, go to bed – without any issue! If I gave him the reward before those things, I’d be wasting a golden opportunity hehehehe.
2) I find it a great way to prolong gratification. So much of today’s generation is all about instant gratification. Whatever happened to working hard and reaping the rewards much later? I like to use this as a way to inculcate into him this old-school work ethic that I personally value!
3) When he gets the reward the next day, it can be used as one of the activities we do together, or that he can do on his own. It’s just clever to let it double up as a time-spender.
4) Sometimes, he might have already forgotten he was due a surprise. So when he gets it, it’s a total extra super de duper fantastic surprise! He’s even more delighted, and it serves as a great incentive (“Ohhhh I was well-behaved yesterday and today I get this, so if I’m really good today, I’ll get another surprise tomorrow??” should be what is going through his brain).
And so you see, I am also not above cunning. Although, I would like to rephrase and coin it #momstrategies instead hahaha.
So what do you think of my 5 tips to keeping your kids entertained while you work from home?
Do you think they’re totally doable? Would you try any of them? Have you already tried some? Did they work out or totally flop? What other methods do you have to keep your kids away from your keyboard and face while you work? I would love to know so please do share your comments down below!
And happy working from home, #mombosses! You got this!
Just a disclaimer, there are no affiliate links in this blog post. The above links to Amazon items are just as a suggestion to give you an idea of what the item is all about!