So, we’re back at home. Again. That familiar feeling of working in your pyjamas and not stepping out of the house for days. Firstly, let’s accept one fact. Your family members are your new work colleagues now. Especially your kids!
I know how tricky it can be with tiny heads bobbing from one side of the screen during those zoom meetings when you were trying your best to looking professional. So many of us have been there; more than once.
I’ve constantly been looking for new and creative ways to get my 3-year-old to keep himself busy and interested in something while I try to focus and meet that deadline. But kids – they have other plans.
Talking about deadlines they have their own. Deadlines like ‘I want it now’ from something to eat or that toy they were playing with ‘a few days back’ and now is nowhere to be found or want to watch Peppa Pig. Right now! (pretty please – they’re quick to add in the magic word). Don’t forget, your new workmates are taskmasters and they surely hold no regard for realistic deadlines. So, the most common and easiest solution to cofunction in this environment is to turn on the telly and we can both go our own separate ways.
But as convenient as this solution is, you’ll start to notice how quickly it starts to bump up your energy bills. And don’t forget those refrigerators that get opened about 20 times a day just to check if somehow magically a new snack has appeared in there. With multiple devices now in use at home and on standby, energy bills can creep up pretty fast. Televisions, refrigerators and freezers are amongst the top energy guzzlers at home.
Here are some fun energy-efficient ways to keep those cute devils busy without having to negotiate many more hours of screen time in return for some peaceful work time.
Create a love for books
If your child isn’t already a book lover get them to see how much fun and fascinating the world of books can be. Pick their favourite animal, bird or favourite character. There are many books that have movie and telly show adaptations like The Lion King, Peppa pig, Thomas and his friends, Bluey and more. Not only are you creating a little avid reader but you’re also helping your little one become more school ready and boosting their ability to read and write at an early age. And not to mention how much of a superhero you feel when you finally type an entire sentence without a single interruption.
Involve them in household work
I know you can’t let them do much without constant monitoring but there are a few things you may find you could let them do without having to get away from your laptop a hundred times. Let them do the dishes. No, not the expensive china or the wine glasses (which incidentally you’ll see how much you need these days to keep your sanity alive). But maybe one-egg frying pans, cutlery (minus the knives) or some plastic containers.
Kids love to imitate us and want to be ‘big people’ all the time. This is their chance (actually yours). So, let them have it. Kids LOVE water play. This is exactly that. Okay, sure they’ll make a little mess but nothing that a kitchen mat or a towel can’t take care of. Just imagine being able to finally complete that task that has been pending since ever. Then you get to use that wine glass (wink wink).
Give them an ‘Important Task’
Get them to do your ‘very important task’. We know much they love pretending to be adults and doing ‘very important work’.
If you have a backyard, let them have some free play outside. If like me, you live in Melbourne, you’ll have to pick the not-so-chilly days. But if it’s not raining, let them throw on a jacket and beanie and get some fresh air while you get your tasks done. If you have a pet even better. Let’s take this party outside!
Encourage them to develop a green thumb/Mud play
Get some pots or even old containers or mugs from the kitchen, some potting mix, or simply some soil from the backyard. Give them some seeds (let your kitchen benefit from this activity and give them some herb seeds – parsley, coriander, mint, basil). Not only have you bought yourself a good hour of focussed work time to smash it out but voila you have a new herb garden and little gardener. Let them play, dig and make a mess (it’s the backyard so luckily there won’t’ be much to clean up). Encourage it. This is what the world needs – for kids to learn how to plant trees and love nature. A little bit of mud never hurt anyone especially if it’s going to keep you from being interrupted during those Skype calls.
You could also try the mini fairy garden kit and let them use their creativity to set it up. They are easily available online so you won’t have to move a finger to buy it. (unless you count the time you move it to click ‘buy’)
There’s plenty more we could do to keep our little one’s busy. Remember it’s hard for them too. Their life has changed as much as yours. These activities could give you some kid-free time and there’s excitement and learning for kids too.
The big win here is also keeping those energy bills down which you may successfully be able to do if your kids keep busy with activities that don’t involve excessive screen time or opening the fridge a hundred times (okay maybe less but still a lot more than we did in our ‘normal lives’ read pre-COVID).
You can find some more energy-saving tips here.
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