I’m the mom of a second-grader and a toddler, so for me, winter often means sick days and weather closures that force my kids to stay in the house while I work from home. Working from home with kids is really stressful, but it’s something that comes with my current season of life. In the past two weeks, my 1-year-old has been home with pink eye and a stomach bug. And since I live in the Midwest, we’re on the verge of a cold snap that might keep my 8-year-old at home too.
It’s very, very hard to be an attentive parent and a good worker at the same time. Even equipped with the right tools, the days can still be kind of chaotic and guilt can creep in. I want to be able to give my kids all the attention I can, but sometimes I have to get through some work tasks while my kids are home with a mild illness (something more serious than that obviously requires my full attention) or because of the weather. I’ve been through this for a couple seasons by now, and I’m a lot more prepared for how to handle the days of multitasking than I was in the beginning.
The items below, all easily available on Amazon, have helped me feel like I’m giving them a fun day even when my focus has to be divided. These things keep my kids occupied for long enough stretches of time that I can get through a few required tasks. Here are 20 of my favorite items for working from home with kids.
For Entertaining Babies & Toddlers
These items keep my toddler entertained while being safe and near my workspace. They aren’t too loud while keeping my daughter engaged—and somewhat contained.
Suction Cup Spinner Toys
I can suction these to the fridge, table, high chair tray, or window. The spinning and pop-it features keep my toddler busy.
Ball Pit Play Tent
This is super easy to pop open and collapse back down. I fill it with some favorite toys or plastic balls so I can get some reasonably focused work time.
I love this simple (and easy-to-clean) Blocksy for my daughter to safely climb on. I set it up near my workstation for her to have some crazy climbing, jumping toddler fun.
Having this next to the Foamnasium makes for even more active toddler fun. It’s also easy to pop up and fill with plastic balls.
Kitchen Helper Tower
My daughter loves this piece of furniture. I set it up at the counter so she can focus on an activity and I can take a call or maybe bring my laptop over to the counter.
LeapFrog Interactive Book
My daughter loves to flip through a board book, but she can tear through a stack of those pretty quickly. This one is extremely engaging. All the pages are interactive: By touching the animals you can hear their noises and fun facts in English or Spanish.
LeapFrog Learning Center
This adorable activity table is set up to look like an office and has a laptop and phone. The legs are also collapsible. It’s a perfect item for littles who are in the copying-mom-and-dad stage!
For Keeping Kids Occupied
I keep some fun $15-and-under activities on hand for winter weekends in the house. They’re also great to have for unexpected weather closures. On snow days I’m certainly OK with some amount of screen time, but I want to provide something else that might just inspire some creativity or learning. My second grader is reasonably self-sufficient but will repeatedly express her boredom if stuck in the house all day without much to do. These craft kits, science kits, and puzzles help keep that boredom at bay while I’m working.
Craft & Creativity Kits
Paint Your Own Stepping Stone
A ready-to-paint stepping stone for your garden with choices including a turtle, unicorn, rainbow, and more.
Decorate Your Own Water Bottle
A stainless steel water bottle that comes in multiple color options and is ready to be bedazzled with rhinestone gem stickers.
Glow-in-the-Dark Rock Painting Kit
A kit with 10 rocks to decorate with glow-in-the-dark and fluorescent paints.
Color Your Own Messenger Bag
A cute and functional messenger bag that comes with fabric markers and gemstones to decorate.
Build a Bird Bungalow
A kit that allows you to build and paint a birdhouse that can be hung outside.
Solar System Planetarium
A fun STEM kit to build a planetarium that includes glow paint and stencils.
Paint by Sticker Book
Less messy than paint but still super fun, these "paint by sticker" books are a fun solo activity for my daughter—and are also great for travel.
Solar System Puzzle
This giant 48-piece floor puzzle of the solar system takes my daughter a decent amount of time to complete.
This brain-teasing hexagon puzzle has instructions for multiple challenges.
This colorful 150-piece puzzle is shaped like a dinosaur when finished.
A hands-on science kit that includes eruption powder and real rocks from a volcano.
A fun project to grow your own ecosystem indoors.
Science Kit With 30+ Experiments
A kit with more than 30 experiment options, including test tubes, droppers, funnels, googles, and more.