Keeping Kids of All Ages Busy When Working from Home

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Quarantine time with children at home can be demanding and challenging. Working from home, parents find themselves juggling their work demands and their children’s distance learning programs. Long hours in ZOOM meetings, returning conference calls, and work emails can drain the energy of any parent. Some parents struggle with their children having too much screen time, while others find themselves needing a few moments of quiet to gather their thoughts or confer with a client.

So, how do you keep little ones from interrupting a meeting? How do you limit the screen time of your school-aged children? What about keeping those finicky teens engaged? We have a few ideas to help you manage working hours during this challenging time.

Preschool:

1. Arrange Facetime storytime with a grandparent, aunt, or uncle during an urgent conference call.
2. Try to schedule essential work commitments around naptime.
3. Create a reward chart for uninterrupted work time. Provide your children with a safe play area near you with books, puzzles, crayons, and coloring book/sheets. Put a decreasing timer near them so they can visually see how much time is remaining. Give them a sticker for every 15 minutes they do not interrupt your work. After they earn four stickers, you can reward them with 15 minutes of 1:1 playtime. You may choose to increase the time in five-minute intervals as they become more comfortable.

School-Aged:

1. Alphabet Search – Give your child a magazine, newspaper, or catalog and ask them to look for the letter a, then b, etc. They can use different color crayons, circles, or x’s to mark them. The alphabet search can be a shared game with a sibling.
2. Symmetry Portraits – Find a symmetrical picture in a magazine (ex. a butterfly or faces of people or animals). Cut it in half, glue the half onto a piece of paper and have your child draw the other half of the picture.
3. Doodle Dee Doos – Make squiggles on blank pieces of paper and have your child turn them into pictures.
4. Find an American Sign Language chart and encourage your child to learn and practice sign language.

working from home with teensPre-Teens/Teens:
1. Learn to knit, crochet, or woodwork from YouTube. Provide supplies, but once they get the hang of it, your pre-teen/teen can take their craft outside and complete it.
2. Design and fill a photo album. Your pre-teen/teen has hundreds of photos at their fingertips, but what do they have as a tangible memory? Let them choose the album, print the pictures through a vendor, and get decorating supplies.
3. Design unique cards and write notes to seniors in nursing homes who cannot visit with family and friends. Drop them off or mail them to various centers.
4. Make a time capsule with items that will help them remember this time in our country.

Taking a few moments to plan with your children over the weekend for the following week can set you up for success. Order supplies and look at the YouTube instructional videos with your children. Make sure they understand what they are doing! Make and explain the reward chart for your children. There are lots of reward charts online that you can customize. Let your children choose their favorite stickers. Collect the preschool materials with your child and put them into a special “working box” that only comes out during work hours. By working together with your children, you can have peace of mind and a successful week. Good luck! Remember, the quarantine shall pass!

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