November 1, 2012

20 Proven Ways to Keep Kids Busy When You Are, Too

Build a House of Cards
by Suzanne Falter-Barns

This article is for all stay at home parents who have a dream cooking away in their heart that they keep trying to squeeze in around the edges of parenting. First of all, fear not it can be done! Anyone with such a dream knows that frustration of hearing the phrase, "Mommy, I'm bored," come out of a child's mouth. If you're attempting to work on your dream at home, this usually happens just about when you hit your stride. And that's when become profoundly grateful that "Mary Poppins" lasts a glorious two-and-a-half hours. Child-rearing experts look askance at such tactics, of course. But what about those times when we just need a scant half hour more to finish our loan application, or our final exam from out on-line course? Thankfully, there are alternatives to plugging your child into a video when you have to get a bit of work done. This list is provided to help parents keep kids busy, and fulfill a few of their own goals at the same time.

Ages Three to Five
1. Play in the sink. Put about four inches of warm water in the kitchen sink, and provide a nice assortment of implements that water can pour through or get churned up by. You'll keep them busy a good while this way.

2. Flour and trucks. Whole wheat flour and little trucks on a tray keep kids busy, especially if some of the little trucks can move the whole wheat flour 'dirt' around.

3. Build with Jenga blocks or dominoes. Kids this age love to build elaborate houses with these small, easy to manipulate blocks.

4. Play home movies. Pull out the video of last Christmas. Children up to about age thirteen can never get enough of this one.

5. Stage a Barbie fashion show. Offer to sit in the audience when you are finished your work.

Five and Up
1. Beads. Children can string beads endlessly, thank God. Especially when the beads come in great big bags that have an endless assortment in them. (Some bead stores sell assorted odds and ends in big bulk bags that are ideal for this.) Be sure to have some fishing line, memory wire, or elastic thread on hand for the beading, plus some necklace and bracelet closures. For kids who like to manipulate tiny things, offer them a sectional tray such as those used for fishing tackle to divide up beads by type. This will keep them wonderfully busy.

2. Blanket forts. Let them take over the living room, or the dining room table, or some spot that's just enough out of the way to not impede traffic too much. Then let them set up a clubhouse or fort made of blankets and pillows. Another good option is to set up a camping tent in the living room, or, weather permitting, the yard. Encourage them to have a secret clubhouse that's only for kids. The signage alone can keep them cooking for a good half hour. Add a flashlight, and let them take a snack into the fort and they're in heaven.

3. Create a book. Cut up some pieces of paper to form the pages of a small 'book', fold them in half and staple the spine. Then turn the kids loose with pencils, magic markers, rubber stamps, etc.. We make long, skinny books, little, fat books, etc..

4. Start a newspaper. They can do it the old-fashioned way, by printing out articles and cutting and taping them in place. These can then be photocopied. Or, if they're computer savvy enough, turn them loose on your desktop printer software. Encourage them to sell subscriptions around the neighborhood, or offer copies for free. Kids can feature whatever news they want, plus photos they take with instant cameras. (You may have to provide some photo processing here, or assistance with scanners, etc..) This is an excellent long term project that can actually turn a buck for a child, and teach them salesmanship along with publishing skills.

5. Stage a play or puppet show to perform after dinner that night. Offer to help with scenery, props or costumes after you've finished your work.

6. Make magic potions in the kitchen. Ground rules are that kids clean up kitchen thoroughly, and don't eat their creations or feed them to pets. Have an extra baking soda and food coloring on hand for this, as these are favorite ingredients.

7. Build a house of cards. Toss them a deck, and see what they can create. You might even offer up several among the siblings, to see who can build the highest one.

8. Give them a Creativity Bag. Give kids a bag full of unconventional materials to create with: Post-Its, tin foil, a roll of toilet paper, file cards, popsicle sticks, yards of tulle, paper clips, rubber bands, old magazines, etc.. Give them an hour to create something special, at which point you'll give them you're undivided attention. It's great to keep a special box or bag of such on hand for just such occasions. Toss recycled items, or whatever has potential into the box whenever you think of it.

For more practical information on how to find the energy, money and mental space to live your dreams, check out Suzanne Falter-Barns e-book, "Living Your Joy* How to Find the Time, the Money and the Energy to Live Your Dream (And Still Pay the Bills!)" available at Suzannes free ezine, The Joy Letter, brings you a crisp, fresh burst of inspiration for your dream every week or two. Sign up at and receive her valuable report, "Thirty-Five Guaranteed Time Savers". It helps you create time to finally live your dreams.