Stuck at home with your kids? Or maybe you’re trying to work from home and keep your kids busy at the same time. Either way, it can be tricky to keep everyone happy and get work done. If you’re struggling to juggle everything, these tips for keeping kids busy at home will help at least make life a little bit easier when your family can’t go out.
Tips for keeping kids busy at home
These ideas will help your family during those times where you can’t go out. They’re great resources for a snowstorm when you’re working from home during summer vacation, or you’re under a stay at home order in your area.
Prep the night before
Parents often hit the ground running in the morning. To make things easier on yourself (and help the day go smoother from the start) prep activities for the kids the night before when they’re in bed.
Make sure everything is easy for you to access or can be played with independently. It will be a lot easier than interrupting your work meeting or housework to go find one missing piece to an activity you suggested (or the kids have come up with themselves.)
Pick up some activity kits
If you don’t have a lot of go-to activities in your house or your kids are really bored, consider grabbing some craft or activity kits that your kids can do. When choosing, look for something that’s age-appropriate and easy for kids to do on their own. Otherwise, they’ll be bugging you constantly for help.
Another idea is to make your own activity kit with stuff you already have. You could even put together custom craft kits or set up sensory bins for younger kids.
Give them challenges
Challenges are a great way to keep kids busy for a few minutes while you accomplish important tasks. Ask them to go build something specific out of LEGO or a tower consisting of a certain number of blocks. If kids are similar in age, you can even have them compete.
If your kids get bored of these challenges you can also have them do ones they see on YouTube. Kids can play the ‘try not to laugh’ challenge, for example. Just watch for challenges that aren’t safe like the ‘cinnamon challenge’.
Use screen time to your advantage
When times are tough and families are cooped up at home parents might struggle with keeping screen time limits in place. Kids are addicted to their devices but not all two activities are created equal! It’s also OK to give yourself a little slack when times are tough.
One thing you can do is let them do education activities on their phones or tablets. That might mean watching a documentary on Netflix, playing a math game, or reading eBooks. They still get some screen time but it’s being used in a positive way.
Another is to use screen time as an incentive. Let kids use their devices only when they’ve completed certain tasks or non-screen activities. Or use it as a reward for good behavior.
Get them moving
A lot of times kids act up because they’re not only bored, they’re lacking physical activity. If they’re suddenly out of school and not getting their daily physical activity in or sports aren’t running, kids might be suffering from a lack of movement. Studies have shown physical activity makes kids better behaved and concentrate better.
If you can, get outside and have some outdoor playtime. Kick a ball around the yard or take a family walk or bike ride around the block. If you’re truly stuck inside then use whatever you have. Home workout equipment can sometimes be safe for kids if used properly. Fitness video games are a fun way to exercise.
YouTube is also a great resource for fitness videos of all ages. Look at things like Cosmic Kids Yoga or GoNoodle to keep preschoolers and school-aged kids busy.
Rotate the toys
If you have a lot of toys, consider cleaning out the playroom and establishing a toy rotation. What you do is leave out a few toys that you know get played with all the time and pack up the rest. Make sure you pack them into categories, though, so they’re easier to find later. For example, keep all the toy food together in a bin. Another with blocks. And so on.
Then each day, or throughout the day, pull out a new bin of toys and put another one away. Even though it’s the same old stuff kids will feel like they’re getting something new. It also helps direct their play; a full playroom can be overwhelming. Especially for younger children.
Start an activity jar
If your kids are constantly saying they’re bored then an activity jar is a great cure. Simply write out a bunch of activities that kids can do around the house and put them inside the jar. Then when they’re bored they can pull one out and have an instant idea for fun!
It might be tough to come up with ideas, especially when parents are preoccupied with other things. If you need some inspiration to consider picking up a pre-made kids’ activity printable. Then you can just print it out and only add the ideas that work for your family!
Parenting is hard during regular circumstances. If something has you all at home together (especially if you’re still working from home) it can be extra stressful. Kids feel that stress too when their routines are changed up and they’re taken away from their usual friends and activities.
Be patient with the kids when they’re struggling to keep busy. But also be patient with yourself. If your kids sometimes get a little too much screen time so you can get work done that’s OK.
More tips for keeping kids busy at home
- Let them call someone: a friend, family member, or teacher.
- Have them “work” next to you either with homework or activities.
- Introduce a new skill or hobby they can do on their own.
- Keep family and daily routines as much as possible so they know what’s coming.
- Prep healthy snacks that kids can grab throughout the day.
Hopefully, with these tips for keeping kids busy at home, your family will find its own rhythm to keep everyone happy and occupied. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too!