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?
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.