Tricks for Entertaining Kids when Working from Home?

by Melanie Edwards on March 22, 2011 · 14 comments

in Wahm

Mother working while daughter draws next to her

Life with two kids is hectic. I thought my energetic 5-year-old kept me busy enough, but it’s ten times worse now. My days are full of too many diaper changes to count, slobbery shirts, and constant noise. That’s what gets to me the most I think. The noise. And, it’s not even coming from the baby, really! Instead, the majority of the noise comes from my daughter.

I’m accustomed to baby noise. He cries, I figure out what’s bothering him, fix it, and we move on. But with her, it’s constant attention these days. It’s always, “Mommy, look at this,” or “Mommy, should I put this dress or this one on my doll?” or any other form of calling my attention. This is not during the times we are playing together, but rather during the designated “mommy is working and you need to keep busy” times.

You see, she used to attend preschool five days a week from 9-5. However, we had to cut back and she’s now attending only 3 hours each day. When you account for driving time to drop her off and pick her up, I only get 2 hours each day without her home with me. I’m still trying to adjust to the change.

I’ve attempted a variety of ways to keep her busy so that I can get some work done each day. From following a similar schedule to the one at her preschool, to letting her play games on the laptop while I work on another computer. They work for a bit, but without fail, she will come up to me to ask questions or simply to tell me about the activity she’s doing – like a narrator.

I love that she shares so much with me and definitely don’t want to discourage that. After all, less than 10 years from now she’ll be in her prime teenage years and will probably not want to share anything with me. So, of course, I want to create a habit of healthy conversation. But, I do need to get some work done. No work, no income.

I even explained that to her, “If mommy doesn’t get any work done, then I won’t get paid. I need to get paid so we can pay for food, clothes, our house and all the nice things you have.” Yesterday I took a different approach and compared my work deadlines to homework: “I have to be sure I get this work done today. It’s like your homework. If you don’t turn it in the day it’s due, that’s no good, right? So, it’s the same with my work.” And, she actually understood and responded with “If you don’t turn it in, you might get fired!”

But, alas, here we are again another day with her seeing me working and still talking to me just as much. I really hate to have to say, “Just be quiet so I can get some work done!” It seems like that may be where we’re headed, though.

That’s why I want to know what works for you. What are your tricks for getting some work done while your kids are home with you? Share your best tips for entertaining the kids when working from home!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer March 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I totally get where you’re coming from. Until recently my 5YO was only attending preschool 3 hours a day. Letting your child watch a movie will give you a big block of work time, but you probably don’t want to do that every day. Does your library have a kids room with puzzles, toys, etc? I bring my son and my laptop to the library to work while he plays there. Or the bookstore, or even our driveway where he can draw w/chalk. Anyplace that’s kid-friendly with wifi! Good luck.


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Jennifer, movies only work so much with her. She’s a very active kid and doesn’t sit still for long…even with movies! I’ll have to check on the library, and the driveway might work!


Anonymous March 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I know what you are talking about Mel. I have my 4YO with me after 2 hours of preeschool 2 times a week. It’s only 2 times though, I know it’s not the same as having him for the whole week. I have the same issues and the only way it’s a good day is when I have planned activities like paint, playdough, special toy set he can play with, one after the other, cause of course he wont last so long with only one They all take time for me to help and set up but the time he is concentrated helps out a lot! Also, I try really really hard to make him get to nap! And he goes down for about 3 hours! That alone helps!!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Dari, she used to nap sooo good! But, in the past 3 months or so, she really hasn’t been, even when I force her to try. Sigh…my 5 year old has outgrown the nap! I will have to get better about creating a schedule for her and planning activities. Do you give him the outline of the plan beforehand or just give him a new activity as he finishes another?


Monica March 23, 2011 at 2:11 am

I have a LONG list of projects, tricks, and more. This is a subject that takes a lot of thought and discussion. I will write it up tonight and post tomorrow!!! I hope it will help!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I loved that you took the time to write your post. Really enjoyed it and bookmarked it for use later. Thanks Monica!


Jennifer Mitchell March 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I’ve worked at home with and without kids for the last 9 years – I feel your pain! At 4 & 5 we did a lot of playdates. When my son had a friend to entertain (and be entertained by) he would leave me alone. Usually I’d get an extra 2 hours in with a 10 minute break in there to supervise a snack. And that typically meant the other mom would host my child for a playdate sometime in the future – another 2 hours, but completely uninterrupted!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

What a great idea!


Roxana A. Soto March 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Ay, Dios mio! I totally get you and I hate that I have no tips to give you because I don’t know what to do either. My situation is a bit different, though, because while my daughter is at preschool three times a week for 5 hours, I’m at my full-time job, which means I don’t even get to take advantage of that time… Sniff… That also means that I have to do my blog and freelance writer related stuff when I get home from work or late at night after they go to bed!

To me, it sounds like you’re describing my daughter. She does the exact same things as yours. I’ve told her time and again how things work, but in the end, she’s only 4 1/2, so how is she supposed to understand, right? Now that my son is no longer a baby, things are going a couple of ways: it helps because they can play together, but it doesn’t last very long until they fight or my daughter gets bored 🙁

I’ve basically opted for doing things that don’t require ALL my attention while I’m with them (like answer emails or comments, but NOT write a post) because, in the end, I don’t think it’s fair to them either. This, however, means that I have to wait until they’re in bed to get started by which time I’m exhausted!

Sorry, but I was able to relate completely to this post and I guess I needed to vent!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I’m glad you vented! I can’t help but laugh at the fact that they’re already fighting and he’s just a baby! LOL

I also try to do a lot of work after bedtime and have been where you are since I used to do the blog and work full-time outside the house. But, these days, I can rarely keep my eyes open after 9 pm; how sad!!! We’ll figure something out, I suppose, right? Or keep going like this until they start kindergarten. 😉


Janice Croze April 9, 2011 at 4:13 am

I have had to hire a nanny since my second was born. No, I can’t afford the nanny. I work to pay my nanny. BUT this is a short season in my life and I will go insane and/or my business will fall apart without it. So, every two weeks I write a cheque that hurts. But, I feel like it is an investment in my business and in my sanity!


modernmami April 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

A nanny would be great! I do miss those hours of uninterrupted work. 🙂


Carol Ann from Mom It Forward October 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Good choices. Yours was to be a stay at home working mom. Way to go! You can make it work if you love the idea of being with your child rather than opting for daycare. Have her next to you doing some projects that take some time. (cutting, pasting, creating). This will take some preplanning on your part. Take some sceduled breaks. Show her a play clock with the hands pointed to when you will take time just to be with her. Give her a goal to work toward as you do. Find someone to trade play dates. Just some ideas….


Super Social WAHM November 22, 2011 at 2:21 am

My daughter is 2 years old. she cries and always wants to be cuddled even when i work. so what i do is turn on her favorite cartoon movies and sit beside her as if i’m watching with her. but, trying to finish my work as fast as possible before she realizes she needs my attention again.because like what you’ve said, if we don’t get the job done on time, we won’t get paid 🙁

this technique really works for me. and i can work hours for this. wahm


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