Keeping Kids Busy at Home

Keeping Kids Busy at Home

For the past six years, I have been a work-at-home mom with my kids home full-times. I won’t lie and say it’s easy balancing a business and family time (while keeping up with housework). I can say it’s gotten easier as my kids have gotten older.

When it comes to keeping kids busy at home, it’s best to start as young as possible. Teaching kids to play independently for small chunks of time during the toddler years will make life easier once the napping years are gone forever.

My older daughter inherited my Type A tendencies. From a young age, she would ask me what our schedule looked like for the day. I ended up re-using one of my pocket charts from my classroom years. I made cards listing the major components of our day: meals, rest time, playdates, errands, read-aloud time, etc.

Each morning, I would arrange our daily calendar for her, leaving room for independent play. She had “choice time” in the morning and in the afternoon. I would choose three free time activities for her (for example, puzzles, blocks, and dress-up), and she would pick from the choices. Before long, Addie was quite good at keeping busy during my working hours, no screen time required!

By the time our younger daughter entered the toddler years, I was not only working at home, I was now homeschooling her older sister for Kindergarten. Suddenly, I needed to fill twice as much time for her!

Thankfully, Katie is a tactile learner. Sensory bins have always kept her busy for hours at a time–and pairing sensory play with our educational playlists meant she was listening and learning through play.

How to Keep Young Kids Busy at Home | Indoor activities for summer, rainy days, and work-at-home moms! Keep toddlers and parents happy with fun and simple learning activities using simple materials.

Keeping Kids Busy at Home | Fun ideas for your little ones to keep busy during summer or rainy days! Simple play ideas using pom poms, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks.

Keeping Kids Busy: Simple Play Ideas

I also discovered the idea of “invitations to play” when Katie was nearing the end of the napping years. {You can download all of our seasonal invitations to play FREE here.} She had this little table in her room, and each afternoon, I would set a tray with a new activity on it for her to see when she first woke up.

Her activities ranged from adding pony beads to playdough (and then pulling them all back out again) to building structures for her Little People animals with popsicle sticks. She loved sorting pom poms by color and making bracelets out of pipe cleaners.  

Now that my girls are 6 and 9, they love their free time. They work hard to finish their school work so they can get back to their projects!

Just this week, they put together a play for their stuffed animals! My youngest dictated the entire script for her older sister to write down. They rehearsed, made out invitations, and put on the entire show without any interference from me.

My oldest loves to write books, while my youngest still prefers sensory play. When they start to bicker, it’s time to spread out to different spaces for an hour of quiet time.

Keeping Kids Busy: Screen Time

A lot of moms I know struggle with guilt when it comes to screen time. In my opinion, it’s all about balance. If our kids are getting plenty of time outside, what’s the harm? The trick is finding shows and apps that YOU feel good about!

In our house, we’re big fans of Signing Time (sign language + music), PBS Kids (especially Peg + Cat), and School House Rock. My girls also love to listen to books on Audible, play Stack the States, and practice their math facts on the iPad.

They also love riding their bikes, going to the library, and fishing with their Daddy. Everything in moderation!

When it comes to keeping kids busy at home, during summer or on rainy days, the key is being flexible.

I love helping busy parents connect with their kids through play. Come join our FREE Facebook group for lots of activity ideas and encouragement from other moms!


Grab your FREE Ultimate Guide to Learning at Home from Melissa Droegemueller of Rolling Prairie Readers

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