Working from home is tough. Working from home with kids is even MORE tough! Especially now that school is out of session and the kids are getting antsy from being stuck inside all spring. I bet everyone is looking forward to the warm weather, playing with friends, and really taking advantage of a little bit of freedom.
However, if you’re a parent working from home and you’ve got a few little ones running around with all of that pent-up energy, it can be really hard to focus on your work. In some areas, things are starting to open back up, but a lot of people are still wary about being in close proximity with other people (which is understandable) and they don’t want their kids to be around other people.
So, how do you keep your kids entertained while working from home? I’ve got a few ideas!
Create a scavenger hunt
You can create a scavenger hunt for the kids either inside or outside – whichever works best for you and your living situation. If it’s easiest for you, create a scavenger hunt with things that they can find around the house: a paperclip, a specific toy, a food item, etc., and give the winner a prize at the end!
On the other hand, you can hide a bunch of small prizes around the house so that everyone who plays is a winner – think of it like an Easter egg hunt! Those always keep kids entertained for hours, don’t they?
Keep their hands busy
“Idle hands are the Devil’s playground!” to keep your kids busy while you’re working from home, give them tasks to complete throughout the day. Maybe you’ll want to assign them their own “work” to do – clean their rooms, pick up all the sticks in the yard and put them out for collection, give the dog a bath outside.
If you don’t think giving them “work” is a good idea, perhaps you can provide them with a puzzle, play dough or Legos. Give them a goal to reach and then a prize at the end. Something like, “Whoever finishes their puzzle first gets to pick what we’re having for dinner!”
Find them an awesome podcast
There are so many entertaining podcasts out there, and you can find ones for pretty much any age. There are podcasts for kids about science, ones that just tell good stories, and some that will be perfect to lull your kids into nap time.
If you have kids that are a little but older and like murder-mystery-type things, I have my very own podcast that I think they would love! The episodes are short enough, so they won’t get distracted mid-way through, but they’re in-depth enough to keep them focused and entertained. If you, the parent, are into true crime, you should give my podcast a listen, too! Come one, come all.
Plan lunches they can make themselves
For the days when you can’t leave your desk for lunchtime, do some meal prepping for the kids so they can easily make their lunches themselves. Even if they’re just popping something into the microwave, it will make them feel helpful and keep them busy.
One great idea is to assemble homemade “lunchable” boxes. Put all of the ingredients that your kids will need to make a sandwich, salad, or mini pizza into a container. They can sit at the table and pick-and-choose the ingredients that they like and leave the rest behind. If you have multiple children, they can swap ingredients with each other and really get creative!
To keep them busy after lunchtime is over, make sure they know that they have to clean up after themselves. Dishes in the sink, garbage in the trash, and table is wiped down.
Prep for a garage sale
Have the kids go through their rooms, their toys, everything that’s theirs and organize things into piles that they want to keep and things that they want to get rid of. This will keep them busy for quite a while AND gives you a great opportunity to rid your house of some clutter. All you have to do is keep working from home and the kids will do most of the work for you!
Once they’ve got everything sorted out, give them a few boxes to put the things into that they don’t want. This can be the jumping-off point for your garage sale this summer. Of course, make sure you go through the boxes when they’re finished. You don’t want to accidentally get rid of something that means a lot to you. Kids don’t always understand the sentimental value that certain things hold to parents.
Set up a campsite for them
If you have a backyard and a tent, set the kids up with everything they need for a camping trip. A tent, sleeping bag, camping chairs, a little cooler with snacks, bug spray, sunscreen, and a game for them to play. This mock camping trip will make them feel like they’re able to go on vacation even if they can only go into the back yard.
If you feel so inclined, take this trip beyond keeping your kids busy while you work from home and spend the night out there with them! It might be a fun way for you to unleash your inner child and take a little break from reality, too.
Give them the opportunity to choose
Sometimes, all these activities can really be too much for kids, and they just want to have a chill day. If that’s the case, let them pick a few movies to watch, play some video games, and talk on the phone with their friends. Everyone needs a day to just relax and do nothing, right?
The thing is, though, you don’t want to give them too many “chill days.” Too much screen time isn’t good for their little minds and they might get too used to doing mindless activities. Just because it’s summertime, that doesn’t mean they can sit around like bumps on a log!
Cooking & baking
If you have older kids that can whip something up in the kitchen without hurting themselves or burning the house down, shop for everything they need to make a nice treat. This might be a simple dinner for the whole family, a delicious baked good just for them, or something fun that they can take outside and have a little bake sale with.
I think you’ll find that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what your children can create in the kitchen! Who knows, if they’re good enough, maybe you can pass the dinner torch over to them.
Create a scrapbook
Throughout the summer, your kids will have lots of opportunities to make memories. Print out a few of their favorite pictures and have them keep little mementos from their favorite activities. Sit them down once a week or so and have them compile everything that they’ve collected in the last week into a scrapbook.
The year 2020 already has so many crazy things to be remembered by, it will be nice for your kids to look back on their scrapbook when their older and remember that even though the world was a crazy place, they were still able to have fun and create memories that will last forever.
Many people still don’t know if they’re going to go back to their traditional way of working this summer. And some people already work from home full-time! Whichever position you find yourself in, I hope these ideas make your days go a little bit more smoothly and keep you productive.
If you have any questions or other tips, please feel free to drop me a line! I love sharing ideas with other people and learning what works, what doesn’t, and how we can all help each other out while working from home with kids.