There are countless benefits to both working and homeschooling! Whether you business requires you work outside the home or cozied up in a home office, one of the top questions among Homeschool CEOs is what do I do with my kids while I work? Today, we are writing to offer you a range of ideas and activities on how to occupy kids while you work! Some might be more obvious, while others you may have never thought of before!
As you read through, please bear in mind that every situation is different and some of the items listed might not apply to you. Due to everyone's varying schedule, business design, and kids' ages, there is not a one solution fits all, which is what makes this a problem for so many amazing Homeschool CEO mamas out there.
Tips + suggestions for occupying kids while you work
Whether you work in the home or outside of it, sometimes having someone else in charge, even for just a few hours a week can be a huge relief! It provides a few focused hours where you are responsible for NOTHING other than the work you need to accomplish! Depending on the age of your kids and your family situation, trying to find childcare help can be difficult. I recommend asking family or friends for help first. If that is not an option for you, then try:
Trading time with other mom friends/homeschoolers/business owners
Sometimes this isn’t possible either, and you may be reluctant to add on watching other children to your task list, but within the right community this can be a beautiful blessing! Having focused hours to work will allow you that extra time to repay another woman for her time! Here in the Homeschool CEO Society, we are all about helping each other out and cheering each other on!
Hire a babysitter/nanny/tutor a few hours a week
This may not be an ideal option either, but finding the right fit for your family can really help elevate some stress when it comes to working and homeschooling. I think out of each of these options, a tutor is best. If you have a student struggling in a particular subject, or a kid who maybe needs more of a challenge, a tutor is a great option to help your kid academically and give you the time you need to tackle your to-do list.
This option varies greatly depending on where you live and the co-ops available to you. There are a few co-ops that allow you to drop your kid off and they go to a class, (its like a private school for homeschool kids!) However, these options typically come at a cost since there is no parent involvement.
Other co-ops that are more reasonably priced, typically require parent involvement, and the amount varies greatly. I have heard society members discuss the pros and cons of this option, and I agree that it might not work for everyone. I know of a member on our team whose kids are in a co-op and she does teach one class each week, but she has 2 hours that she isn’t teaching where she can go into a quiet room and knock out a few work items.
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HOW TO OCCUPY KIDS WHILE YOU WORK: TIPS, ACTIVITIES, + IDEAS
If you are sitting there thinking, well I don’t think these options really help me when it comes to occupying my kids while I work, then I have more ideas and activities for you! If you have younger kids, there is a range of activities that will help occupy them so you can fit in short bursts of work throughout your day!
Activities + Ideas for Younger Kids
- Activity + Sensory bins are a great option! You could fill activity or sensory bins with:
- No mess coloring:
- Special Books for work hours only
- age appropriate puzzles
Other tips to occupy young kids while you work:
There are many other options out there, but these are my go-tos! The key is to only bring the selected toys out during a certain time of day so they don't get bored with them and have something new and exciting! Ideally, I recommend having a couple different toys on hand to rotate throughout the week!
I also strongly suggest having a scheduled nap tap for those littles and a coinciding quiet time for your older kids at the same time each day!
How to occupy School Agers while you work:
School agers have a lot of energy so if your work and the weather allow it, getting outside can really help kids burn off energy while they play! Sometimes I pull up a chair and haul out my mobile rolling desk and watch my kids play in the yard. It's a win-win!
If your work or weather doesn’t allow for much outside play time during the working hours, I suggest having a supply of activities on hand just like you would toddlers!
Items to have on hand:
- special art supplies*, (watercolor paints, jewelry beads, etc.)
- Legos - these are lifesavers and there are kits to fit any interest!
- Games your kids can play together without you-there are so many out there!
- Guess in 10 - There are tons of themes: animals, foods we eat, transportation, states, etc.
- Special Books and activity/sticker books
- Look and Find books like those from Usborne Books are amazing and offer endless possibilities
- Paint by Stickers - Tons of options and themes!
Since we are on the topic of books, another suggestion I have is to schedule a weekly trip to your local library!
Allow your kids free reign to pick out any books that interest them, even if they have little educational value. They are more likely to look through and read the books they choose while you are have your focused work time!
How to occupy Older Kids while you work:
As your kids get older, managing that school-work-life balance gets a little easier as they gain more independence. As they enter those upper elementary years, your kids may be able to complete some of their school tasks independently while you work! If not though, don’t stress!
Kids regardless of their age, still thrive outside and need time to burn off their energy, so let them play outside as much as possible!
Older kids in this age group and older can benefit from the same list as above, just with items specifically for their age group. However, kids in this age range usually have very specific likes, dislikes, and focused interests. Therefore, I often suggest following their lead as they get older when it comes to choosing activities and items.
Depending on your schedule and the rules in your house, you might opt for special tv time where they are allowed to watch certain educational shows. I keep a running list of shows and networks to pull from when I allow tv time during the day!
TV Shows: A few honorable mentions (for various age groups):
- Wild Kratts
- Operation Ouch
- Magic School Bus
- Secrets of the Zoo
For older kids or for specific interests, documentaries are an amazing option! I try to choose a documentary based on whatever we are learning about in school! You could have your kids draw a picture or write about what they learned as well!
Streaming Services with educational shows
The curiosity network has hundreds of educational documentaries at a super reasonable monthly + annual price. Disney Plus and Netflix also offer great options for educational documentaries. Depending on the interests of your child, there are many educational Docu Series.
For example, if you have a child who wants nothing more than to be a veterinarian (like mine!) Disney Plus has an amazing series called Secrets of the Zoo (there are different series based on different zoos across America). In this show, kids get to see what goes on behind the scenes at zoos and the care required for these animals. My kids love it! It has only furthered my oldest child’s passion for animals and dream of becoming a veterinarian or zoologist!
The Homeschool-Business Balance
I hope that these ideas, tips, and activities have helped you find ways to occupy your children while you work. At the end of the day, running your own business is no easy task. But neither is homeschooling. Doing them both together might make your head spin. However, be encouraged and know that just by running your business and having your kids there alongside you is an amazing learning experience on its own.
On those days where it feels like you can’t accomplish anything, know that you are stronger than you think. Also, rest assured that by some miracle it always manages to get done! We who have been called to this life-this balancing act-are unstoppable and we will always figure it out, adjust, or pivot!
If you have an item, activity, or suggestion to add to this list, I’d love to hear from you! Comment on the blog or reach out in our Free Facebook group: Homeschool CEO Community for entrepreneurs & business owners who homeschool and let us know your go-to activity when you need some time to knock out work items!