By Holly Reisem Hanna
One of the biggest challenges of being a work-at-home mom is finding new ways to entertain the kids, while you get to try and get some work done. Many times we end up relying on technology to entertain our children for us.
I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of turning on the TV or letting my daughter use the iPad a little longer than I feel right about.
Luckily, there are many affordable and creative ways for parents to entertain their children without having to plug in and feel guilty.
Here are ten ways work-at-home moms can entertain kids without using technology:
1. Creative Play Toys
Skip the expensive toys that need batteries and drive you nuts, and opt for toys that let kids use their imagination. Companies like Safari Ltd and Learning Express, offer educational products that inspire unstructured, imaginative play while expanding kids horizons. Toys like Legos, train sets, blocks, role playing toys, tea sets, dolls houses, play kitchens and the like, force children to use their imagination which makes the possibilities for playtime endless.
2. Get Cooking
What kid doesn’t love to get into the kitchen and play around?! Depending on the age of your child, you can take out bowls, measuring cups and spoons and have them experiment with items like dried beans, rice, and pasta. For the young chef, there are lots of easy no-bake recipes that only require the use of a microwave oven. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started, No Bake Peanut Butter Bars and No Bake Cookies.
3. Cardboard Boxes
I always loved when my dad brought home a large cardboard box for my sister and me to play in. We would cut out doors and windows, then add all of our favorite toys and possessions. Some nights we would even sleep in our newly acquired cardboard castle. Not only hours of fun, but easy to do. Just head to your local appliance store and see if they have any large boxes that you can have.
4. Art Time
I’m not very creative when it comes to thinking of arts and craft ideas; luckily for myself and all of the other non-creatives in the world, there are a wealth of online resources to assist you. First stock up on basic art supplies, everything from color crayons, markers, glue, scissors, paper, glitter, yarn, pipe cleaners, paper plates, paints, stickers, and beads. Next check out sites like Pinterest, Dear Lizzy and Make and Takes for different craft ideas. I’ve also been able to find some great craft books at Goodwill for under a dollar.
5. Scavenger Hunt
One of my favorite activities from when I was a child, was participating in neighborhood scavenger hunts. My mom would create a list of items that we would need to find, and my friend and I would
visit bother the neighbors for the various items. While times have changed, and it’s likely that you don’t feel comfortable having your kids run around the neighborhood asking for goodies. You can stage a scavenger hunt inside your very own home or within your the confines of your yard. For younger children paste pictures of objects onto a piece a paper and give them a basket to collect the items. Plan for a simple reward once they find all of the required items.
I’ll admit, I’m addicted to reading and I have a terrible habit of purchasing a lot of books when I already have a pile waiting for me to read. It must be genetic because my daughter has the same tendencies towards books. Luckily, membership to our local library is free, which allows my daughter to pick out as many new books as she’d like to read. They also have books on tape and CD, which allows her to be read to, while I manage to get some work done. Thrift stores and garage sales are another option to pick up gently used books for cheap.
7. Water Play
Living here in Texas, if you’re going to be outside during the summer, you need to be in the water. Stay cool and have fun by allowing your little ones to water the plants, garden or lawn. Set up a sprinkler and let them run through it or fill up a bucket of water and give them some water toys to play with. My daughter loves when I fill up her wading pool and set her with her tea set – she could play in there for hours. Of course, never leave the wee ones unattended when playing with water.
8. Get Entrepreneurial
I don’t know if you’re born with an entrepreneurial spirit, but as a child, I was always trying to sell something. From having a lemonade stand to making my own perfume and trying to sell it to my neighbors, I was always looking for creative ways to make money. Encourage your child’s entrepreneurial spirit by helping them set up a lemonade stand, starting a blog or selling their creative wares on Etsy. For more information on how to encourage your child’s entrepreneurial spirit, see Raising CEO Kids.
9. Get Moving
Being one of three, my mom always made us kids get out of the house to burn off some energy. Luckily for us, we had a neighborhood teaming with kids of all ages. We regularly played hide and seek, the ghost is out tonight, freeze tag, red rover, and kickball. Not to mention all the time we spent riding our bikes, playing on the swing-set (as it was called back then) and just chasing each other around. Encourage your kids to move their bodies and get active. No kids living in the neighborhood? Live on a busy street? There are tons of organized classes, camps, and actives for kids to get moving – do a Google search to see what’s near to you.
Planting seeds is one of the easiest ways to teach your child about nature and the life cycle. Purchase some dirt and seeds and plant your seeds in a container. I've found that garlic bulbs, sunflowers, and basil grow easily and quickly. Another fun project is to create your own Chia Pet; take a plastic cup or styrofoam cup, draw a face on it and plant grass seeds. As the grass grows, your little one can cut the “hair.”
Entertaining the kids while you work from home is a challenge, but as parents, we need to sparingly use technology, so that we can inspire and encourage our children to creatively use their minds and enrichment their souls.
How do you manage to work from home and entertain the kids when they're on summer break?
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Safari Ltd gave my daughter some complimentary toys to review. Please be aware that I only promote advertising from companies that I feel I can legitimately recommend to my readers.