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How to keep toddlers and pre-schoolers busy while you work!

As a mumpreneur, being able to have the flexibility to work from home while spending quality time with my kids is great, though when it comes to actually getting any work done during the day, well that can be a bit more of a challenge.

So how do you keep toddlers and pre-schoolers entertained so you can you get through your work, meet deadlines, make calls and an income? Here are six different types of play that can keep your kids busy and buy you some time to get things done.

1. Imaginative play 
Kids love to pretend and role play, and they can be absorbed in their little stories sometimes for hours – giving you a chance to get things done. So to help their little imaginations run wild, keep a box of imaginative play ideas that are themed around things they enjoy.

There are hundreds of ideas that can keep them busy and entertained from astronauts exploring space, pirates sailing the seas hunting for treasure, a jungle safari or superheroes, to mermaids in an underwater garden, fairies in an enchanted forest, tea parties, teddy bear picnics or a business owner running their own mini office.

To make their play even more real and exciting help them with outfits and props, like a big box for a rocket, washing basket with a broom mast and pillow case flag for a pirate ship, or a desk or small table complete with filing trays, paper, pens and envelopes for their office. Whatever the idea is though, you want to make sure it is suited to their age group and easy for them to keep playing independently of you.

2. Adventurous play 
One of the best ways to keep kids busy is to keep their play different and exciting. So appeal to their adventurous spirit by having some more active play activities to break up their usual play routine and hold their attention.

Set up a treasure hunt (inside or outside) where they have to find certain objects, help them build a cubby or fort to play in, set-up a ball pit, or an obstacle course (inside or outside) that they have to navigate through – or just play with for younger ones.

3. Quiet play
When you work from home there are times when you need absolute silence, like when you have to make a client call for instance. Though having a one-year-old and three-year-old, you can imagine how many times it is quiet in this house!

Thankfully though there are some activities that can keep them a little quieter while still keeping them busy. Puzzles (large floor puzzles are great – especially if there is a younger sibling who will put small pieces in their mouth), mazes, memory, look-and-find books and shape sorters are all great for keeping little ones occupied, developing their problem solving skills and lowering the noise level.

4. Messy Play 
They love it and we hate it for the extra mess, though give them permission to get a little dirty, and they will play for ages. Kids just love playing with messy, slimy and squishy things and can have so much fun doing it. Some ideas include painting, digging in dirt or sand, Play Doh, making mud pies and playing with jelly.

While the intention is for your kids to play independently, keep in mind that messy activities normally require closer supervision so you will want to work close by – just not in the firing line!

5. Outside play 
Coming into the summer months it’s great to have your work portable whether it is by laptop, tablet PC or smart phone, so you can set up under the back pergola and let the kids run off some energy outside while you get some work done.

Sprinklers, kiddie pools, sandpits, bubbles, drawing on cement with chalk, balls and other outdoor toys can produce hours of fun and wear them so they will have a nap or at least sleep well that night.

6. Out-and-about play 
Sometimes kids need a change of scenery and a break from the usual routine that’s why making your work portable is a must for your own productivity. If they are particularly fussy, unsettled or overly energetic a trip to the park, library or an indoor play centre can be a lifesaver.

What activities keep your kids busy and give you a chance to get work done?

About Amanda

Amanda Jesnoewski is the owner of Velocity Media + Communications and a copywriter and marketing strategist. As a mumpreneur with two small children, Amanda juggles an iPhone and a nappy bag, clients and a toddler, a laptop and a baby, telephones and tantrums daily and writes about at her blog Adventures and Misadventures of a Mummypreneur.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mummypreneur
Twitter: www.twitter.com/mummypreneurs
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How I Coped with 2 Babies Under 1

coping with 2 babies under 1

It’s February 2011. The weather is hot, humid and positively awful! We are in Noosa with our four month old, baby boy Aston. I’m still breastfeeding so I couldn’t take my travel sickness tablets and worst of all, I couldn’t sip on a couple of Cosmopolitans in Hastings Street!

I remember the moment just like it was yesterday. We were at lunch with family when I just couldn’t cope with the heat any longer. I may have been dehydrated with the heat and breastfeeding, but whatever it was, I wasn’t feeling very well. My husband’s aunty suggested I might be pregnant!? My husband and I looked at each other as if she was mad. A four month old baby, breast feeding AND on the mini pill? The woman was out of her mind. With a nagging feeling that we should probably get a pregnancy test from the chemist to prove her wrong, we left lunch early and headed back to our hotel room with a ‘packet of 3’.

The five minutes wait to see if I was the proud owner of a ‘two lined stick’ was the longest five minutes of my entire life. If this was happening, how was I going to cope with an eleven month old baby and a newborn? Surely these things can’t happen? Five minutes passed. One very distinct pink line and one VERY faint pink line. Obviously a dud test. Test No.2. One very distinct pink line and one very faint one. My hands trembled as I attempted test No.3. There was no mistaking it, there was definitely two lines. Wow. The realisation that I was going to be a Mother to two babies under the age of one.

We arrived back in Adelaide a few days later and the first thing I did was book in with my obstetrician. You can imagine the reaction from the nurses in his office that I had befriended and grown to love during my first pregnancy. I was told that I was eleven weeks and six days along. The first three months of my pregnancy were over and I had only just found out! That means I had no morning sickness and being back at pre-baby weight already, I had no weight gain (due to breastfeeding I’m guessing). These are stories you only read in magazines surely!

My second pregnancy was long and hard, caring for and carrying a very heavy and active Aston for the most of it. There were some days were I cried at the thought of how I was going to cope with two babies, a husband that was Chairman of a company, two stepsons that we have a little over half the time and not a lot of family support. I wasn’t even sure I was maternal when I met my husband at thirty years of age, enjoying a fabulous career and hadn’t really thought about being a Mum….

Amongst all of the tears, the worry and the overwhelming feelings of fear, we were going to have another beautiful life to add to our family of three amazing sons. As time went on, the idea became easier to cope with and the excitement built of having two children so close together that they would ultimately not know life without each other. Affectionately known as our Irish Twins ☺

Our second (technically fourth) baby boy Damon was born in September of 2011. A doll. Blonde with green eyes and the face of angel. A total contrast to his dark eyed, dark haired ‘big’ baby brother and his copper haired and strawberry blonde older brothers. A seven minute birth with no complications and, (after a very traumatic birth with Aston), an experience of true Mother and Baby bonding that I will never forget.

I worked hard to get Aston into a very strict routine and had him sleeping through the night from six months of age and we have rarely had sleep troubles with him since. Damon was sleeping through from five months. People ask why I am so strict on routine and why I chose to ‘have no life’ through this last year with two babies. The truth is, it was and is my only coping mechanism. If I didn’t get sleep and downtime, I couldn’t function the next day and I needed the energy.

There were days when I didn’t think I could cope. There were days where I wanted to ‘pack it all in’ and run away. There were days I thought I could have borderline post-natal depression as I was so overwhelmed, but, it was all due to lack of sleep and exhaustion. A form of torture in some countries!

Damon turned one last Friday. Aston is yet to turn two. It has been such a wonderful experience raising two little boys so close together but I have to mention that the support from my Husband has been amazing. We have had so many laughs, so much fun, our fair share of ups and downs, frustrations and lots of craziness, but the one thing we do have in our house is love…..and a lot of it.

Here’s to life as a Mother. There is no better job in the world.

Tania Lewis is the mum of 4 children and wife to Mark.

Her blog ‘Bambini Di Casa’ can be found here: www.bambinidicasa.com.au

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