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Keep the Kids Busy While You Work this Summer

Its summertime, the kids are home and looking for fun… but Mom still has to work.
Working from home is such a blessing, but it definitely comes with it’s own set of difficulties. Mom feels guilty always saying, “Not right now, Mommy has to work” or resorting to screen time to keep the kids busy while working.

Here are several great ways to keep the kids occupied while working during summer break.

© konradbak – stock.adobe.com
© konradbak – stock.adobe.com

Water

Hands down, the easiest way to buy work time is to give the kids water. The key is choosing activities that are fun and allow the kids to get wet, without actually swimming- which requires undivided attention. Also, changing up the activities from day to day helps keep water play new and fun.

As little as a few buckets of water, or a sprinkler aways buys me several hours of work time.

Some afternoons you’ll find my kids with every available bucket and container they can find full of water- they even fill our coolers!

Some of our favorite water activities include:

  • Water guns/squirters are a favorite here. Save cans and bottles to shoot off the deck. See who can knock over the most army men or action figures. Who can shoot the farthest? Challenge the kids to water the flowers or garden. Who can move water from one bucket to another the fastest?
  • Sponge bombs and splash balls go great with sidewalk chalk bullseyes, hopscotch or tic tac toe games.
  • Buckets of water and unexpected toys- small plastic animals, Little People, cars, action figures, princesses, even old baby dolls give a little extra oomph to the fun and help the kids come up with new imaginative story lines with their buckets of water.
  • Bowls and pans with measuring cups and spoons, or small toys is great for small scale water fun.
  • Add ice cubes, boats, and small plastic animals for polar water play.
  • On rainy days let the kids splash in the puddles while Mom works on the porch!

Create

Creative play can occupy a child’s imagination for hours.

  • Make a tent with sheets. Add stacks of books, army men, dolls, action figures, or even turn on a movie.
  • Save shipping boxes for a few weeks, then let the kids create a box fort. Add markers. If you are willing to leave the fort up all week, you’ll get a lot of work time out of this activity!
  • Make a show. Point the kids toward puppet supplies, or a song playlist and challenge them to create a show to perform after dinner.
  • Art- from paint to scissors and glue, art is a great way to keep kids occupied. During the year I stock up on easy kits from clearance aisles to pull out during summer art time.  I find the amount of peaceful time bought with art worth the extra clean up the activity often requires.
  • Build- this is a great time to pull out legos and blocks.
  • Playdough or clay
  • Make a rice or sand box in a large tupperwear container. Add cups, spoons, and small toys. (While some make this an indoor activity, I find my kids cannot keep that stuff contained. It’s porch only here!)

Feed Them

When my kids get cranky or start bickering, that’s when I know it’s time to pull out a snack. Keep a variety of heathy snacks and special treats on hand. I definitely don’t want to teach my children that they get a sugary snack to keep them occupied, but a few special snacks during the week makes summer feel special and fun.

  • Independent snacks- keep healthy snacks the kids can help themselves too in designated places. My kids know they can grab a piece of fruit from the bowl, cheese or a yogurt cup from the drawer, or something from a certain pantry basket (pretzels, granola bars, etc)
  • Easy snacks- Keeping ingredients for yogurt parfaits on hand is a big summertime hit at our house. The kids can layer their own yogurt, granola, and fruit. Keeping dips on hand is also a big hit here, from peanut butter, to ranch, or humus, dipping is always more fun.
  • Fun snacks for outside- My kids think watermelon eaten outside in big triangles and frozen treats like popsicles are the best summer treat!
  • Tea party- My kids have special cups and a pitcher they use for outdoor tea parties. It’s amazing how much time they can spend with a sleeve of crackers and a pitcher of pink lemonade at the picnic table!

Quiet Time

Summer is full and busy and exhausting. Keeping a regular afternoon quiet time, even for older children is a great way to protect dedicated work time (and great for phone calls and vlogging). Rather than fighting for quiet time make it part of the routine. Kids of all ages can use an hour or two of reading or writing time. If the kids are being especially wonderful during the week treat them with a Friday afternoon movie time during quiet time.

Stay Outside

Set up an outdoor office whenever possible. I’ve found all the spots in my yard that get shade at different points in the day while also getting a good wifi signal. If your wifi doesn’t reach outside, invest in an extender. It will be well worth it!

Water play, creative play, even feeding the kids- the more mess I can keep outside, the more time I can work!

In the heat of the summer, get outside as early as possible. Then, the kids are tired and ready for some indoor downtime during the heat of the day. Since I’m a single Mom, I tend to take my time off during the afternoon a few days a week, and then work again in the evening when its cool enough for the kids to play outside again.

Final Tips

My biggest tip is to vary activities. Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to keeping kids happy and occupied it’s always best to stop while the activity is still special rather than riding the wave of fun until boredom and bickering sets in.

Don’t do one thing more than twice a week. Even if your kids play with water every day change it up- water squirters today, sprinkler tomorrow, sponge bombs and chalk another day, etc.

Setting a timer is a great way to help younger children stick to one activity for a short period of time without destroying the house pulling every toy out in just a few minutes time. Start with 10 or 15 minutes on the timer and slowly work up until your children can stick to one activity for 30 minutes to an hour.

Do you have any other easy ideas for keeping kids occupied while Mom gets work done? I’d love to hear them!

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14 Comments

  1. We have gotten our kids enrolled in a couple of camps this summer to keep them occupied but for the most part I am sure we are going to do lots of the things you mentioned. It’s going to be a busy one!

  2. How fun is this? It’s my first summer as a work-at-home mom and I’m nervous. I’m used to SIX HOURS of quiet work time a day. Now? It’s challenging. We have some camp, and a lot of Mama Camp so I’ll need these tips.

  3. So many great ideas! My kids are much bigger now, which makes it easier for working from home, but they can still be very distracting. It looks like your kids will have a lot of fun, but make sure you build in some time to play with them, too. 🙂

  4. As a stay at home father myself, these tips are invaluable. Allowing the kids to be creative with crafts goes along way to keeping them busy and feeding their imagination while working on useful skills.

  5. Haha, Lawd knows I needed these tips. My kids sure love to come and be all over me when I’m working. Thanks for sharing. They’ll come in handy!

  6. Water is definitely fun for the kids. We just got some inflatables that use water and they’re awesome fun for the summer. 🙂

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more about the water. It’s hours and hours of fun, and it really can be played with in so many different ways as you’ve shown.

  8. These are all great ideas! I try to send my two boys off to Grandma’s house for an afternoon once a week. The kids also attend a couple vacation bible school programs at churches in the community which gives me a little work time and the boys get a little extra time a church. That is what my 5 1/2 year old would call a win-win and so do I.

  9. Mommy of 6 and you work from home And you are homeschooling. You are already a superhero to me.

    Wonderful list of activities. I will surely take a few ideas off here. Great post !!

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