8 ways to distract your kids for an hour so you can seriously get some work done

Are you a working parent? If so, you’re probably finding yourself in the unusually cruel situation of having to both work from home and entertain your children at the same time. It’s not fair. Maybe you’re feeling a bit like this mother. The world has never had such a high appreciation for teachers. 


And let’s face it. Even amongst the online schooling your kids are doing, there’s still hours worth of time that needs to be killed while you attempt to work from home without losing your mind. 


The good news is, you’re not alone. There are ways you can keep your kids blissfully busy while you hone down on those 250 unread emails. Here are 8 ways to distract your children so you can maintain your productivity — and your sanity.

8 ways to keep your kids busy at home

 

1. Have an “unconventional materials” arts and crafts challenge

Have you got a closet full of random items you’ll never need or use again? Of course you do. Now is their time to shine. Go pull out all that decades-old wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, old gift bags, magazines, newspapers, toilet paper rolls, that old sweater from aunt Karen, you get the picture. Put it all in one big pile and tell your kids, “Go.” You can even make a contest out of it to see who can make the biggest creation, the most unique, and so on. Bonus points if they’re able to recreate a famous work of art using only materials found in the house (like these wonderful people). 

 

2. These toys will keep your kids busy for hours

Luckily, certain toys are designed to hold kids’ attention for hours at a time. Take advantage of these. Sticker Books, playdough, puzzles and legos are some conventional examples — Magna-Tiles have been found to be particularly distracting and awe-inspiring. Again, give them a challenge, a mission they must accept: who can build a lego creation taller than themselves first? 

 

3. Livestreams galore

While you don’t want your kids staring at a screen all day, these awesome live streams are not to be passed by. Want to watch the Northern lights in real time? There’s a livestream for that. What about puppies, pandas, farm animals or majestic sea creatures? There’s a livestream for these. What about an astronaut currently in the international space station? Yep, there’s even a livestream for that. Just try not to get too distracted yourself. 

 

4. Visit a museum — from the kitchen table

To the average kid, museums can be boring. But not these museums. Whether you’re wanting to navigate through a two-story-high maze at the interactive Boston Children’s Museum or get lost in Frida Kahlo’s house at Mexico City’s La Casa Azul, there’s something for everyone. If your kids have slightly more mature taste, there’s many other museums they can check out, too. 

 

5. Send your kids on a scavenger hunt

If it’s possible for your kids to go outside in the neighborhood for an hour, send them out on a photo scavenger hunt with a list of things they must snap before they can return. Think: something beautiful in nature. Something representative of your country. A bird. Pink flowers. A selfie of their best “fight the corona” face. People walking at a social distance. Somebody’s dog. Somebody’s dog’s poop. And so on. The Dutch are offering a similar example: houses are putting teddy bears in their windows so kids can go on a teddy bear safari and see how many they can count. 

 

6. Dance like nobody’s watching

Put your kids in the room furthest away from where you will be working. Then set them loose on learning as many TikTok dances as they can in one hour. Then have a performance at the end of the day. Family “Renegade”-ing is encouraged. 

 

7. Activate their inner artist 

Join famous kids’ author, illustrator and child enthusiast Mo Williams on his daily “Lunch Doodles with Mo” live youtube sessions, posted each day at 1pm Eastern Time (US). Mo also answers kids’ questions, gives tours of his fun studio, and simply hangs out with you for about 30 minutes, leaving you feeling like you’ve become friends by the end. (No shame if you end up watching too — doodling is very therapeutic, and Mo can be particularly captivating). 

 

8. Let your children fully experience — and conquer — boredom 

The truth is, sometimes life is boring. When you’re working from home, you simply aren’t able to plan every single activity for your children — and quarantine aside, you won’t always be there to instantly solve their boredom for them. So why not give them some practice in solving it themselves? My mother used to always say, “bored people are boring.” Her point: creative people are seldom bored. So, give your children some time and space to feel their boredom, and challenge them to come up with their own epic, unique solutions to it. This makes boredom a game in itself, and it gives your children the freedom and agency to come up with fun and creative solutions. Bonus: it’s a great way for them to practice real-life problem-solving skills. What could be better than that? 

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Related: 6 Tips for Working at Home (That Really Work)