Are you wondering how to keep your kids entertained if you’re a work-at-home mom? Here are a few tried and tested tips. Read on…
One of the biggest challenges moms who work from home face is keeping the kids entertained and happy while they’re not at school. Although it’s tempting to let your kids watch movies or play online games for hours while you work, the truth is, there are plenty of creative, yet simple ways to keep them busy without too much screen time.
Encourage your child to play solo
Whether you have one or more children, mastering solo play will help your child thrive with school activities. So, it’s a good idea to encourage your kids to focus on individual tasks at home – even if they enjoy playing together. If you have the kind of child who asks for help with everything, you can start slowly and set up playtimes and activities where she can entertain herself for 30 minutes at a time, says clinic sister and parenting expert, Ann Richardson.
In her book, Toddler Sense, Ann explains that a gradual approach is always best. While you work or wash the dishes, encourage your child to make creatures out of clay and gradually build up to longer stretches of solo play. Your goal is to encourage your child to get on with her own activity without too much hand-holding from you.
Here are a few ways to entertain your kids and work:
Have a dedicated crafts section
As children have limited attention spans, it’s a good idea to set up 3 different arts and crafts activities, instead of just one. The aim is for your little one to play independently for as long as possible, to allow you to get work done – as you sit close by. Start by setting up a ‘colouring in’ station using colouring activity books.
You could also create some simple dot-to-dot drawings and encourage your child to join the dots and then colour the picture. Then, organise a paint station using this fabulous safe finger paint recipe that you could make on the weekend. By using a safe finger paint recipe, you can let your child play without worrying she’ll eat the paint.
Edible paint recipe:
2 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
Food colouring of your choice
Combine 1 cup of water with the cornstarch and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan (save the remaining water).
Once there are no lumps remaining, add the rest of the water
Stir over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Don’t allow it to cook too much- it should have the consistency of aqueous cream.
Divide into small jars and add in food colouring of your choice.
*This recipe is from Ayesha Parak Makada’s Sticky Fingers: A Sensory Play Recipe Book
Lastly, set up a free drawing section, either using chalk and a blackboard or white paper and different coloured crayons, pens, and pencils. You could ask your child to draw something with only blue, then yellow, then red, for example, or draw a picture yourself and ask your child to copy it. This activity should give you 30-45 minutes of work time while your child is engaged.
Encourage imaginative play
Inspire unstructured, imaginative play by filling boxes with toys like Lego, blocks, cups, spoons, plastic containers, paper, and glue. The box should be packed away when not in use so that your child looks forward to playing with it while you attend zoom or team meetings.
Collect recyclable items
A cardboard box is one of the best budget-friendly ways to keep your child entertained. Every time you head to the fruit and veggie shop, collect one or two cardboard boxes in different shapes and sizes. The larger boxes are ideal for creating forts and houses, whereas the smaller ones are good for collecting items like flowers or stones from the garden.
Then, when the holidays roll around, get those boxes out and give your child a few pencils and crayons to go wild. If you have younger kids, cut out windows and/or a door for them, and let them decorate their new ‘home’. You could also give them a variety of fabrics and papers such as ribbons and newspaper, and let them cut and stick whatever they want onto the box.