12 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler While You Work From Home
Get a Happy Toddler While You Get Work Done
Having been one of those moms that needs to get work done while I’ve had small kids in the house, I have come up with tons of ways to keep them entertained. This article has tons of ideas to help.
If you need a long period to work, a good tip is to get organised before you start. Have a number of activities lined up in advance. So when your little one gets bored and wants your attention, you can distract them with the next activity on the list.
Toddlers love water. If you have a laptop you can move around or some work you can do with a pen and paper so you can sit next to your toddler while they play, water play can take place in lots of different places.
In the summer, there are lots of water activities that can take place outside. A water table is a fantastic toy to have. Young children will often play for ages pouring water in and out of cups and in spinners. If you don’t have a water table a bucket of water and some accessories will often do the job as well.
Another great water activity that will keep toddlers occupied is painting the walls. Give them a paintbrush and a bucket of water and they can “paint” the walls outside the house.
If you are indoors and can work next to them, remember that bathtime can take place any time of day. Fill up the bath with some lots of toys and they can splash away to their heart's content while you work next to them.
In the kitchen
If you work at a table in the kitchen here are some ideas. You can also use these when you’re cooking and cleaning.
My eldest son absolutely loved playing with fridge magnets. They would keep him occupied for ages. They can also be used on a washing machine. There are some chunky magnets designed for young children which are designed to be safe for young children to use. Make sure the magnets aren't the small ones that they fit in their mouth as obviously you don't want them to choke.
A Kitchen Drawer / Cupboard
Toddlers love getting things in and out of drawers and cupboards. It's worth having a cupboard just for them so they can empty them and fill them up again. It can have pots and pans with spoons which they can use to bang on, shakers, toys or whatever bits and pieces will keep them organised. It’is often good to rotate what's in the toddler kitchen cupboard so they won't get bored with what’is in there.
Kids get bored of toys easily. Have you ever noticed on Christmas morning they will play lots with all their new toys but the novelty will soon wear off. Have you also noticed that toddlers will often play for ages with toys at a friend's house but if you buy them the same thing, it won't keep them occupied as much. The novelty of new toys always keeps kids occupied for longer. This is why it's good to buy second hand toys, toy swap or borrow toys of friends. The toys will be used more because they are new to the child. So think of ways in which you can rotate toys. Only keep a small box out at all times and rotate the ones you have. Could you have an arrangement with friends where you swap toys intermittently. Or maybe get some cheap toys from the local charity shop.
A rotation of toys will give you a few minutes extra to get the work done that you need.
Create an age appropriate arts and craft box
Have a box full of arts and crafts materials (that are not messy) and that you can get out when needed. Put it on the table, have paper, chunky crayons, chunky pens, coloring books etc. Have a cover on your table so that it doesn't matter if you miss the paper. Once they finished it’is quick tidy up just get everything back in the box.
Get Out the House - Soft play
If you can take some work out the house, consider going to the soft play centre. Near me, there is a soft play centre that also has wifi. So I could take my laptop, my son would go off and play and I could get some work done.
Swap play dates with other working Moms
Nowadays there are lots of working moms who do their stuff from home. Make friends with some and swap play dates. If you do it right you can have an afternoon or morning free to do work while your little one is having fun. If you don't know any moms locally, check out sites like meetup and local facebook groups to try and meet moms in the same boat. If you can't find any local groups or buddies, it may be time for a little proactivity and to start your own group
Food time / snacks
If kids are hungry, food will always keep them occupied. My kids were allowed to play with food at mealtimes in their high chair and at the table. Allowing kids to explore food with their fingers and mouth not only keeps them occupied for longer, it means they are more likely to taste and try new foods. They will also learn to enjoy their food which can have benefits as they get older.
Consider making mealtimes more of a sensory experience. Kids may need cleaning up a bit after but it will give you some extra moments to answer an email or listen to an answerphone message.
In the backyard.
The great thing about the backyard is that all kinds of messy play can take place and you don't have to worry about the home getting untidy. All clean up can be done outside before your toddler comes in. One of my favorite messy play for the outdoors is to fill containers full of different dry foods. Toddlers will enjoy mixing them altogether in a bowl.
Story time on Youtube
Nothing beats reading with your child but you can't do it all the time. Another go to activity I used to have with my toddler was to search on youtube for his favorite books and stories. There would be videos of people reading the books with pictures and videos. He used to love it, it was educational, a nice winding down activity and gave me a few minutes as well.
YOutube can also be great for playing nursery rhymes which they can follow and sing along with.
This is probably better for older toddlers and preschoolers but audiobooks can be a nice relaxing activity.
Obviously you don't want your toddler to be glued to a phone or tablet while you work all day, which is why there are lots of other ideas of how to entertain them while you work in this article. However, as a work from home mom, I know there will be times you need 30 minutes peace to finish something and my ipad used to keep my son occupied the most. There are some great educational apps which will teach them letters, numbers, colors and more. They are enjoying themselves and having fun and it's for a limited amount of time so my message is don't feel guilty and do what you have to do.
The TV is obviously another screen but like adults and other kids, it’s a good way for toddlers toys chill out and relax for a bit. I don't think 30 minutes in front of the television now and again will hurt. If I needed to make a phone, a 10 minute episode of Peppa Pig is a great choice. It will keep them engaged while you can speak for a few minutes.
More Parent Work From Home Tips
Here are some ideas:
Have a schedule
If you know you need to get stuff done and have to look after your toddler, have a schedule for your day and know when are the best times to get stuff done. For example, consider tidying them out for a couple of hours in the morning with an activity such as swimming or and outdoor activity. They are then much likely to be sit down and focus on play and activities in the afternoon, and this may be the best time to work. Obviously naptime is an great time to work too.
Having a smartphone can be a blessing or a curse but I find that it's good to keep on top of e-mails etc by having your e-mail come to your phone. Then you can answer any quick easy email questions throughout the day when you have a spare moment. Then there's less to do later on
Make a list of activities your toddler can do throughout the day and get everything organised ready for their play. Then you can easily move from activity to activity when they get bored.
Tidy homes can help
Don't beat yourself up in things aren't perfectly clean and tidy in the home but remember so much time can be lost looking for things, pens, paper, specific toys, where you least put your phone. I’ve found keeping as tidy as possible really helps.