Fun and Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy While You Work

“Mom, I need to find my (insert name of random object).

“Mama, what are you doing? I want to do this too.”

“Mom, I’m getting bored. Can I watch television?”

I’ve heard all of these from my toddler, no less and especially when I’m just getting started with either working on my business or finishing household chores. Have you heard these from your kids too?

frugal ways to keep kids busy

Fun and Frugal Ways to Keep Kids Busy While You Work

Whether you work from home or stay-at-home, your life is busy and while playing with your kids is obviously what gives both of you immense joy, you also need to catch up on laundry, work, cleaning and other chores.

So, what do you do? You keep them occupied and engaged. Here’s how:

Art and Craft Activities

For preschooler-aged kids, bringing out a box of crayons or paints and sheets of paper is a great way to keep them busy. You could also use cutting (with child-safe scissors only) and pasting  as another option. Older kids can be given simple craft projects such as making pen holders from empty cans or magazine holders from cereal boxes. You could even give them supplies to make birthday cards and let their imaginations run loose. Need inspiration for crafting? Here is a list of 30 fun craft sites filled with ideas and tutorials.

Board Games and Puzzles

Kids of all ages love board games. Keep a few reserved only for your “work” time. Whether you’re a parent to an only child (like yours truly) or multiples, you can find board games for everyone. Puzzles, too, are another fantastic way to keep kids engaged for at least an hour while you catch up on chores. While jigsaw puzzles generally tend to frustrate my toddler if she’s working on them alone, she enjoys puzzles where she can string beads, fix chunky blocks or pull something apart.

Secret Stash of Toys

Yes, you need one of this. So, if you don’t have one, make one today! Bring this stash of toys out only occasionally to keep the element of interest alive. You could use a simple box to hold some toys from an existing collection. Make sure you include favorite type of toys – cars, musical instruments, dolls and doll clothing, pretend play sets.

Writing (or Scribbling)

This one is great for keeping kids engaged in an educational yet fun way. My preschooler loves to scribble and the more she uses a crayon or pencil, the better her grasping skills get. However, older children can be given a sheet of paper, pen or pencil and interesting prompts to help them build their creative writing skills and vocabulary. Some ideas include, “What’s your Favorite Season/Food/Animal”, “Your Ideal Weekend/Holiday” and so on.

Use Educational Sites and Apps

Another one for older kids, you can keep them engaged by giving them constructive searches to do online. Using educational websites or apps such as NASA , HowStuffWorks and DiscoveryKids can be an enjoyable and enlightening way to spend time. Later, you could quiz them about what they learned or extend the learning by doing a fun project together.

Involve Them

Yes, this works well too. Depending upon  what you’re doing, you could easily involve your children in the activity. Laundry, cleaning the house, organizing books or papers are just a few examples where kids can lend helping hands. You can make it interesting by racing against each other, using a timer or simply singing silly songs. Even, if you’re at the laptop, you could make them sit at the same table and they can do their homework.

How do you keep your children busy and engaged while you finish work?

About the Author: Prerna Malik is mom to a toddler and wife to an amazing man. Editor of The Mom Writes, owner of Social Media Direct and author of a soon-to-be published ebook for work-at-home moms, she enjoys black coffee, reading and being a WAHM.

Originally published on January 10, 2012