Even the best laid plans can fall apart at the last minute. Here's how to keep your toddler occupied while you work from home.
Sometimes, no matter how foolproof the plans are, life gets in the way. And by "life", I mean when the power is out at the day care center or your babysitter comes down with food poisoning, and suddenly, your very adorable toddler is attending your 9 a.m. Zoom call. While that might not be the worst thing in the world, a day full of work, conference calls and video meetings can be potentially challenging to manage with a little one at your feet. Mama advice 101: have some activities ideas in your back pocket should those life events that we can't control come a knockin'.
As more of the general population moves to a work-from-home model, in some ways, this can make last-minute cancellations easier when it comes to childcare. You won't scramble to find another babysitter if you're already working from home. But in all working situations, here's hoping you've got a supportive manager who understands last minute parenting challenges.
Keeping your child busy while you work can seem like another job in itself. We're here to help with some easy ideas to keep your kids entertained. You got this, mama.
Here are 8 ideas to keep your kids busy while you work from home:
Go for a walk
Here's hoping your childcare did not cancel on a rainy day. If your child is still young enough, take them out in the stroller or front pack and go for a walk. It's a golden opportunity for some deep breaths in fresh air (you may need it), and you can still take a call if need be. Pro mama tip: if your kiddo can nap on-the-go, take your call while your baby snoozes.
Keep a "secret stash" of goodies
Ideal for long winter days or rainy afternoons when you're stuck inside, the "secret stash" is a must-have for toddler parents. Keep this special bin of toddler toys and activities hidden away so your little one doesn't know where to find it. Go-to's like kinetic sand, sticker books, matchbox cars and new crayons and coloring books can be easily found at Target or the Dollar Store, and will really save you when you to keep your child entertained during Zoom calls.
Say yes to screen time
Honestly, in the vein of "you've got to do what you've got to do", if your child is old enough, more screen time than you might normally allow is going to be fine on a day when you're stuck without childcare. There is an enormous amount of educational television shows that your toddler will love, and hey, maybe they'll learn something at the same time.
Pro mama tip: our VP of Content Strategy will put on an episode of Cosmic Kid Yoga, which even gets her 18 month old in on the downward dog action. While her youngest doesn't have the attention span of her toddler, the episodes are engaging, and she feels comfortable leaving the show on in the background while she tries to get work done on childcare-free days.
Hang on to a few boxes
Amazon boxes piling up? This could be a good thing. Save a box or two if you have space available. Boxes make excellent canvases for coloring on, pasting stickers, making a rocket ship, doll house, grocery cart... you see where I'm going here.
Make a paper chain
Okay, this one might take a little preparation and requires that your child be able to handle and apply tape. Still with me? The result (i.e., silence) will hopefully be worth it. Take construction paper and cut it into strips. Then, ask your child, "How long can you make your chain before mommy gets off her call?" Make one example and then let your little one do the rest.
Go on a tour of your kitchen cabinets
See that cabinet filled with Tupperware, little one? Have at it. Sure, it won't be super fun to pick up later, but perhaps your Tupperware cabinet needed organizing anyway. Make it more fun by letting your kid put toys in each one to see what fits and what doesn't. This is a great sensory activity for kids in addition to just taking up time while you finish a meeting. Throw in some stackable measuring cups and your kid can really go to town.
Think about "easy toys" you may already have around the house
Time to think outside the box, mama. There are many household items around the house that can double as toys when you need something "new" to keep your toddler busy. Got a paper towel or toilet paper tube? Cut them in half, tape them up and you've got binoculars! Paper plates make easy canvases for art projects. Flashlights can be fun to make shadow puppets. That laundry basket? Turn it into a basketball hoop or soccer goal in the hallway.
Build a fort
While this may require parental supervision to assist in making the roof, let your little one go to town with piling on the blankets and pillows on the living room floor to make a comfy hideaway. Hand over a few books and a favorite teddy bear and who knows, maybe they'll have found a new napping spot. Take a break between meetings to have lunch or a snack on the living room floor, and you'll really be winning.