A week before I landed my new job last summer, my boss called me to get to know me better until we meet. I picked up the call and moved to a quiet zone at home to be able to have a sane adult conversation away from my kids. My kids picked up their toys and followed me, I tried to get away from them, but they insisted on following me around.This was my first encounter with my boss and I had to leave a good first impression. I had to stay calm and practice all kinds of self control until the phone call was over. I was able to escape and lock myself in a room, with one part of my brain on the phone and the other part on the screaming children on the other side of the wall, I carried on.
Well, what can I say, kids are loud and demanding. So there will always be this phone call, this e-mail that has to be sent or this meal that needs to be cooked. It took me a while to figure out what to do in these situations. You need to let them know that you will be busy for the next few minutes. Make sure they understand what you will be doing and where. Set your expectations about their behavior and their voice level and give them something interesting to keep them busy. Don’t ever think that they will entertain themselves it will never happen. Here are some activities that will help keep them busy:
- Cup stacking
Give your children a bunch of plastic cups to stack, build towers, and surprise you with their imagination.
- Recycled tubes
Save paper towel and toilet paper tubes to hang on a wall to drop objects through. Be creative with the objects they throw. It’ll amaze them and keep them busy.
- Rubber bands
Kids love them. Give your kids some food cans to wrap the rubber bands around and forget about them for a while.
- Snack buffet
Prepare a feast for them with different colorful finger foods to devour. Sliced fruits, chopped vegetables, chicken fingers…It will keep their hands, mouth and bellies busy.
- Play dates
Invite your kid’s best friend over to spend a day with her/him. They will be engaged together and will give you some time to get things done.
- Reading time
Pictured books, leveled reading books, comic books, or audio books….depends on your kids’ age. There’s a book out there for each of your children. Get it and teach your kids to have some quiet time on the carpet with their favorite teddy and cushion.
- Dance party
Play some kid-safe pop songs and let them move it move it.
Make use of technology and download some educational games for them on the tablet. Remember to set the alarm, so when it rings, they drop it and do another activity.
- Rotate toys
Kids get bored easily with their toys. Try to hide some every once in a while, so when you get them out again, they will be excited to play with them.
- Busy boxes
Fill the boxes with treasures that suit each of your children’s interest. Foam or magnetic alphabet letters and numbers to hang on the fridge, finger puppets, colored paper, stickers, markers, puzzles (you can even make them by cutting empty toys or cereal boxes into pieces). The trick is to hide them from your kids’ sight and get out one or two boxes whenever they need some busy play time.
Try out these ideas and enjoy watching your kids get busy. Remember a happy kid, is a busy kid. So how are you planning to occupy your kids today?
Hana Arafa is a talented writer, educator and mother.