Working from home used to be a rare treat for most employees. However, in a post-pandemic world, as many as 71% of people work from a home office, with over half hoping to continue the trend.
While there are plenty of perks to working from your home office, work-from-home culture doesn’t come without its challenges. This is especially true for parents with young children living at home. Unfortunately, it’s not always feasible (or affordable) to hire daycare services each day.
If you’re working from home with kids, you’re probably wondering how to keep them occupied and away from your office during meetings and more. Here are some quick and easy ideas that will keep your kids entertained so that you can focus on your work.
Set up a Playtime Session
Learning to play alone is a healthy part of childhood development. Most kids should be perfectly content to play for hours at a time with enough toys and games readily available. Before you start your workday, take the time to set up a designated space with some of your child’s favorite toys. For younger children, you may want to include a baby monitor just to be safe.
It’s best to ensure that the play space you set up is a good distance from your office. Both you and your child should feel like you have plenty of personal space to work and play.
Setting up a designated home office space will also make it easier to strike a healthy work-life balance, separating your office life from your home life.
Arrange a Playdate Swap
If you find it challenging working from home with kids, you’re not alone. Plenty of other parents are in the same boat and looking for a reprieve. Setting up a “playdate swap” with other working parents is a great way to give yourself regular breaks from parenting during the workday.
You can talk to other working parents living nearby and arrange a swap as often as every other day, or just schedule for a few times a month. Not only will you decrease your risk of burnout, but you’ll also give your child a much-needed chance to socialize. Strong social skills are a critical part of early childhood development and can even impact success later in life.
Treat Kids to Screen Time
While most parents are wary about giving kids too much screen time, an extra hour or two now and then is no cause for concern. You can set up a favorite family film on the TV during important meetings or simply allow for more time on the phone, laptop, or gaming console as you work.
If you’re concerned about screen time but love the peace and quiet it offers, consider only allowing educational content on devices. You can find free and easily accessible videos, literature, and even games that help teach kids about core subjects such as math and science.
Set up a Scavenger Hunt
It might take some time to plan and set up a good scavenger hunt, but it can keep kids occupied for hours away from your home office. It’s also a good way to get kids outdoors to ensure that they get plenty of daily vitamin D.
To make an exciting scavenger hunt, try to think up plenty of tricky clues that aren’t too difficult for a young mind. You can hide objects and hints in accessible spots around the house and garden to cover plenty of space. If you want, you can spice things up by incorporating a theme such as pirates or princesses.
Fill a Craft Bin
Arts and crafts are a great way for children to kill time while exercising their creativity. Few kids would turn down the chance to spend time coloring their favorite characters or decorating backyard treasures.
Arts and crafts require very little input from parents so that you can enjoy hours of peace during important meetings. Simply provide a bin full of art supplies such as construction paper, glitter, foam, and other crafting essentials before letting them loose. You can find most supplies at your local dollar store, or you can see what’s in the sales bins at your nearest arts and crafts retailer.
Set a Chore Challenge
While most kids balk at the idea of chores, turning them into a game can make things more fun. Challenge your kid to complete a chore within a given timeframe for a small allowance or reward. With siblings around, you can turn it into a group challenge.
Your children will spend a few quiet hours trying to earn their prize while you enjoy silence during your meeting. What’s more, you’ll leave your home office at the end of the day to a cleaner home, and your children will learn valuable life skills.
Don’t Forget Snack Stations
No matter how many activities you have planned, a rumbling tummy can lead to interruptions during your workday. Before you head to “the office,” it’s important to make sure children have easy access to plenty of food and drinks.
Try to make sure that you leave out healthy snack options such as fruits and veggies. Whole-grain crackers and cheese also make a good quick, easy snack. You should place everything within reach so that your kids don’t need to come to you for help when they get peckish. It’s best to set up a special shelf or snack bin so that nobody grabs the wrong food by mistake.
As any parent can tell you, working from home with kids is no easy feat. You have to be a master of multitasking, simultaneously playing the roles of both babysitter and employee.
The easiest way to manage parenting while you’re working or in a meeting is to keep kids occupied. You can try these ideas and activities to keep your kids entertained throughout the workday, giving you the peace and quiet you need to perform your best.