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10 Ways to Keep Toddlers Busy While You Work From Home

Like many of you, we’re finding ourselves juggling kids of all ages at home, trying to take video calls with toddlers jumping on us and babies nursing and wowza, it’s all pretty nutty. At the moment, I’m in the middle of a two-hour work block before I go back to kid mode, so naturally I’m using the time to brainstorm ways to keep my kids busy. Here are some activity ideas that I’ll be trying out over the next few days.

Make a To-Do List Together: Start the day by making a to-do list together. It can include things that you need to do as well as things your kid might want to do. Ask for suggestions so that your kid is part of planning out the day. Include activities with mama or dada, as well as activities that your kid can do by themselves. We use stickers or crayons to check things off throughout the day. There’s a reason everyone uses chore charts!

Organize Household Objects and Toys: Open up your Tupperware cupboard and let your kid get to work. Have them sort by color, by shape, by size. You can do the same with a sock drawer, utensil drawer (depending on age), bin of Legos, etc. It may not be the most organized outcome but they’ll definitely have fun with it. For us, this usually results in my daughter Anokhi hosting a gathering on the kitchen floor.

Tape, Cover Everything With Tape: Raise your hand if your kid is completely obsessed with tape? So take this passion for adhesives to the next level. Challenge them to cover an entire toy with tape. What about a whole cardboard box? Washi tape is definitely the best for this as it peels off of anything quite easily, so your walls and floors are fair game. At the end of the day, throw on a podcast and get into a zen zone as you peel tape off of everything in your house. We promise, it’s worth the 30 minutes of quiet time.

Bath Time for All the Things: Have your kiddo take their cars to the car wash! Create an assembly line with soap and sponges and a drying rack and have them wash each car one at a time. Do the same with any toys that dry quickly, and even your kid dishes.

Make an Obstacle Course: Gotta keep the little ones moving! Create an obstacle course in your living room that has different checkpoints throughout the course. Try using painter’s tape on the floor and then cushions to create obstacles. I tried this out yesterday and used a couple baskets as checkpoints for picking up pom poms and then dropping them into the second basket before getting to the end. You (and your coworkers on Zoom) are at the end of the course and can give you kid high fives before they do it all over again.

Color or Shape Hunt: Challenge your kid to find everything that’s shaped like a circle. Now find everything that’s red. What about squares? And so on until they’ve successfully unearthed everything in your house. Then, if you’re a real ninja, have them put everything back 😉

Guided Sticker Art: What kid doesn’t love stickers? The thing is, sometimes the sticker game only lasts a few minutes if there’s no task to complete. For a recent flight, I came armed with a notebook where on every other page I had drawn lines, circles, paths, mountains, etc for my daughter to put stickers on. She ended up coming up with great ideas like putting car stickers on the road, animals on the mountain, circle-shaped things in the circles, and so on. You could also make it a color game where you lay out different colored pieces of construction paper and have your kid put stickers that are the same color on each coordinating piece of paper.

Tracing Paper Drawings: I learned this one thanks to my daughter’s school! Get a pad of tracing paper and help your kid learn how to trace objects. You can draw things on paper and then place tracing paper on that, or even tear pages out of magazines and have them trace those. I recommend setting up a tracing paper station — tape the thing they’re going to trace to the counter, then tape the tracing paper on top (otherwise they’ll get frustrated when it slips out of place). You can even line up a few tracing projects in a row and check in with them as they keep working through it all.

Ice Toy Excavation: Grab an ice cube tray and tiny plastic toys that can fit in it, have your kid help you fill the tray with water and place in the freezer. Then check back in a few hours and task them with excavating the toys!! They can try using salt, running water over the ice, using play-doh tools or play kitchen utensils, and so on.

Make Paper Chains: Paper chains are a classic craft and can be made endlessly! Cut a bunch of paper strips ahead of time and show your kid how to use tape to loop them together. Challenge them to vary colors and then invite them to decorate the house with their beautiful results.

Good luck fellow parents, we got this.