Somebody once told me, “kids can be like helicopters, they can hover and hover. Until you attend to them or do what they want, they won’t leave”. I think I laughed out the loudest. Little did i know the truth behind that saying!
If you have a toddler, or have been around them a long time, you will know they are very busy and have short attention spans. When you work from home that can be stressful – especially if you are trying to get work done. Creating an environment where you can be your most productive while keeping an eye on your little one(s) is key. Although they still need the attention of an adult, they can start to learn to play independently for a short while. There are several ways I can make my day productive while I have my busy toddler at home.
Having a special place / space at home where there are toys, books, and puzzles to keep little one busy is always a great idea. It could be in their room but also in the common area like lounge or dedicated playroom. They’ll naturally want to spend time where their bunch of stuff (toys) is. Because it’s not advisable to leave our kids alone for hours, this is a short-term fix so one can manage to get some work done.
I can sometimes sit with my laptop near the toy area so I can keep a watchful eye on my little one while I work.
TIP: Puzzles tend to keep them busy for longer and they can learn the value of independent play while using their imagination.
- Play Dates
Kids love playing with other people especially if they think they’re interesting. The last time I was travelling with my toddler, I got to take a good nap while she played games with the teenager sitting next to us on the flight. This reminded me how older kids / cousins can be helpful when it comes to keeping toddlers entertained. So if you don’t have older kids like me, then you don’t have other children who can help keep younger ones / toddlers busy. So improvising is the way to go – lucky us!
Which is why someone came up with the idea of play dates. While they’re often considered a backwards idea, they work. Having other children over to play can take the focus off of parents / caregivers temporarily so you can do some work.
Depending on the creativity of the other too, they can go to town with ideas really. From playing dress-ups, watching movies, artwork etc. And you don’t have to leave them to it, you can even work while they get on with it. OR take them somewhere they can be busy.
- Art Work
I’ll admit that I hate the mess artwork can leave but it’s such a great child-minder. My toddler, like most toddlers I know, loves finger painting, coloring with crayons, and making art works to put on the fridge or hang up on the wall. I can sometimes help without much concentration but that buys me time as my toddler thinks “mummy is involved” even though I’m only helping when it’s time for a break from my work.
It’s easy to set up a special wee “art” studio for them with a big sheet on the floor (to avoid a huge mess) and crayons, poster board, stickers and other safe art supplies so they can go crazy!
- Online Educational Games
Gone are the days when we waited until we get to school to learn things like computers. Nowadays kids start early, and even toddlers can learn simple online games.
There’re several wonderful online sites where kids can learn and play educational games. This is both fun and provides distraction while I do other things.
My toddler is on her second iPad – not sure how we got drawn into buying them in the first place. It’s not that she spends a lot of time playing with the iPad or watching TV, but when she does, we try and make it educational. From time-to-time she’ll surprise with unusual words like escavator when she sees one.
- Little Helpers
Any busy parent will know sometimes you can forget simple things especially when you’ve been with a little one the whole day. The number of times I’ve driven to a petrol station and parked for a bit while wondering what I wanted to do? Nowadays, thanks to my toddler, she’ll call out “mummy, BpMe”. This is the App we use to fill our fuel tank. So I’m reminded I need to search for the App, and get going. Cool, huh?
While some may call it child labour, I call it/them little helpers. Little ones like to be involved and help when they can. From vacuuming to fetching things, handing pegs while hanging the washing, the list goes on and on. The more we let them help, the busier they keep and they learn life skills in the process.
It’s so rewarding to see them follow instructions and start to become involved in their own care.
- Water / Bath
This is the most popular in our household. As kids love water, I find being creative without wasting water can buy me lots of time. Bubble bath with toys she fills up etc provides endless interest and fun. And it’s so relaxing.
Of course you should ensure the kids are safe in the bath before you leave them should you decide to. However, always important to stay close.
- Park / Common Play area
I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself planning or writing blogs at a park while my toddler was playing. When you take your toddler to a common play area or park, you can find them drawn to the equipment there and can easily join in on play with other kids. While it’s easy to try and control or direct or stop them, sometimes it’s a great idea for them to learn interactive skills without your involvement. Which is why having something like a notebook or iPad can be handy for you to do something else while they play.
Now, I’m aware that not all of these suggestions will work for every child but I’m pretty sure from this list you’ll find a few that will work. We don’t want to spend all the time working that we don’t make time for our precious ones, but we can incorporate these around their daily routines.
Don’t we all love toddlers’ energy? They keep us going!
Does your toddler stop you from doing work around the house or other professional work? Do you find it hard to do anything with them around the house? Would the above tips work? Keen to hear your thoughts/comments.
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