10 Things for Kids to Do While Mom is Working

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I was just sitting here looking at the calendar thinking “Oh my goodness, the kids will be out of school for the summer NEXT WEEK!!!!”  Time to get a little savvy and make sure everyone is busy and happy during the next few months so this mommy doesn’t go CRAZY! :)

Balancing working at home and keeping the kids entertained can be a full time job in itself, especially when you have young children at home.   When I first started working at home, my kids were two and five and it was stressful to say the least.  Mommy needed to work and the kids wanted and needed mommy.  But like any other obstacle in life, there is a way around it.  Sometimes we have to outsmart the situation and get down right creative.  My first few months working at home, we worked on polishing the well oiled machine of keeping the kids entertained and stimulated while I worked.  And even though the kids have entered many new phases and had little moments over the past five years, WE are loving and enjoying mommy working at home!

I have always incorporated and included my kids in my business.  After all, this is a family mission, not just mine.  I let them know what OUR goals are and what WE need to do to reach them.  And my daughter loves to help me with anything creative I work on.  As I type this, she is sharing her ideas of what I should include in this article.  I love to encourage her to participate in our family business, so I will proudly include her ideas!

1. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts can keep some kids busy for hours. Keep the activity simple so the kids can do the projects on their own.  I have a play room setup for my children that includes an art station.  It is fully equipped with art project kits (that I buy on sale at the art store), scrapbooking supplies, coloring books, painting and drawing paper, crayons, markers and paint (washable of course), color pencils, the whole nine yards!  I get them setup and it gives me quite a bit of quiet time to devote to my business.  They have fun and mommy ends up with A LOT of refrigerator art!! 

2. Educational Online and Computer Games

If you have an extra computer, this is an awesome activity for your children.  There are an enormous number of computer and online games to entertain and most importantly, educate your children.  With computers being such a large part of our daily lives these days, it’s great to teach them the basics while they’re young and give them a nice head start.  Brittani just walked in here with a list of her and my son, Landon’s favorite sites: (many of these sites are recommended by our local school system)

http://www.edheads.org/I just watched her perform a knee surgery on this site, totally cool!
http://www.playhousedisney.com/
http://www.nickjr.com/
http://www.pbskids.org/
http://www.scholastic.com/
http://www.jumpstart.com/
http://www.coolmath.com/
http://www.mathfactcafe.com/
http://www.starfall.com/
http://www.thekidzpage.com/
http://www.funbrain.com/
http://www.clubpenguin.com/
http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/

I set time limits for them, they each get an hour at a time.  This solves the fighting with each other over who gets to play and when and also helps them understand that it’s time to get off the computer.  Kids can easily get addicted to computers just like us adults!

3. Reading/Audio Books

Though many kids younger than eight can read, for reading to be an independent activity children have to get to a certain level of proficiency. Let kids choose several library books. I encourage my older daughter to read chapter books to my youngest, who is not quite an independent reader. However, it takes an effort to find books that interest both.  Also there are many wordless or nearly wordless picture books that will engage kids of all ages.  For those who are not ready to read independently or don’t have an older sibling to read to them, listening to kids’ audio book is a great alternative!!  Most importantly, the kids LOVE this activity!  All while, it improves their reading skills and keeps children mentally engaged. Kids can learn to appreciate the art of storytelling before they can read. And kids who can read can expand their horizons. Those who are not strong readers can enjoy a good book. They still should do actual reading at another time. But if a child struggles with reading, then while you are working is not the time for independent reading.  Audio books are expensive, so I check them out of the local library.

4. Chores

This may not sounds like a whole lot of fun BUT my kids think it is so cool when I write each of them a list of chores to do.  It helps them to feel independent. While preschoolers are capable of simple chores, often they can’t do them independently. However, kids kindergarten age and up should be able to complete regular household tasks without your help. Teach them how to do the chores when you’re not working, then make a daily list. And some jobs can be fun. And it will be one less job for mom.  After all, a family is supposed to be a team and everyone is supposed to contribute.  Teach that early in age and your family will run much smoother.

5.  Creative Play

This is not something you can plan or completely depend on, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing. Younger kids are naturals at this, creating elaborate fantasies with stuffed animals or action figures. With older kids, you can encourage imagination by suggesting they produce a play or write a story.  My daughter loves to write stories and songs while my son would much rather pull out all the linens from the closet and build a fort.  It’s even more incredible when they team up and get creative together.  I love the sound of my kids laughing, getting along and being creative together while I’m in my office working.  It’s such an amazing example of why I am working from home in the first place!

6.  Naps

Some work-at-home moms work during nap time and get a lot done. But keep in mind that napping habits change frequently. Don’t schedule important phone calls or figure on meeting a deadline during the nap time.  When I first started my home business, my son was two and my daughter was about to start Kindergarten.  Those three hour naps were a blessing to my business.  That’s when I would make my calls and any other things that required either full silence or my complete concentration.  The nap times got shorter and shorter through the years but this still remained a great time for mommy to work.

7.  Play Dates

Believe it or not, hosting a play date can actually be an opportunity to work. School-age kids can, and should, play together without a lot of adult intervention. If you plan to work while they play, remind your child of the ground rules in advance and invite a friend that they get along with well. If you’re hosting a toddler or preschooler, you have to stay pretty close, so working is not an option. But this is a good opportunity for a kid swap. You host one day, and the child’s parents reciprocate another.

8.  Play Outside

The feasibility of this depends on your home and yard’s set up and children’s ages, but it’s something to think about when the kids are home, especially on summer break. I personally take my laptop outside with me or ask them to play in front of my office window. But you absolutely must keep a close watch.  This is a great option for those with fenced in back yards especially.

9.  Play with Toys

Sounds obvious, but any parent who’s sifted through the toy box just after the holidays knows how quickly kids lose interest in their toys. Put away some toys for a period of time. When they come back into rotation, they seem like new. I have been doing this every year since my kids were toddlers and it has worked brilliantly even at their ages now.  Board games, cards, construction toys, trains, play sets and puzzles can keep kids engaged for hours. But sometimes they have to be reminded of these toys.  My kids are notorious for saying “There’s nothing to do!!” until I go in to their playroom and pull out something they haven’t done in a while.  Then they become instantly engaged and happy and mommy can work.

10.  TV and Video Games

I know there are major mixed reviews on these two activities.  I get both sides, I do!  I am right in the middle, I find myself very balanced in this issue.  I feel that everything in moderation is okay.  My kids don’t watch TV and play video games everyday.  But if mommy has a special project or a deadline to meet, sure, I will absolutely pop in a movie for them.  Or ask them to go play Mario Kart on the Wii for a little while.  Of course you don’t want those things to be your electronic babysitter but it is a good option every now and then.

I truly hope this helps you find some balance with working at home with the kiddos home.  Create special memories with them, you won’t get these years back!

Wishing you an AMAZING summer with your kids!