Juggling life with kids at home can feel like a circus act. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, or working at the office, we are all working. And trying to balance it all. Between caring for your kids, cooking, keeping up with housework, taking work calls and doctor calls, and squeezing in a quick workout, it feels like there’s no time for anything.
If only there was a simple answer. A quick tip. A magic wand.
I don’t have any of those, but… I do have a solution, well, TWO solutions!
- Increase play proximity
- Encourage sensory play
Keeping your child’s play space closer to you increases connection. And offering up a safe, open-ended sensory play experience for your kids builds independent play. This is a recipe for success!
In this article, I will share WHY changing up WHERE and HOW your kids play through sensory play is exactly what you need to get your work done.
How do you get anything done with little kids at home?
Being productive can truly feel impossible with young kids around. Whether you’re trying to send a work email, start cooking the next meal or need to take a phone call from the pediatrician’s office, we are all dealing with parent burnout.
Truth: Every moment as a parent is full of constant distractions.
Since the start of the pandemic, so many more parents are now either working remotely from home or have switched to being stay-at-home parents. And as wonderful as it is to be surrounded by our kids, we all know that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Being home with young kids is hard.
According to Forbes, several studies have shown that parents at home with their kids are stressed with the constant balancing act of managing it all.
So how are we supposed to get anything done?
Encourage Independent Play
Encouraging your children to learn how to play independently is magic in and of itself. When they feel confident in their independence and ability to be creative, use their imagination, and explore, life will seem easier for everyone!
Closeness is Connection
Allowing your child to be close in proximity while you do your work (whether it’s a work call from your office or meal prepping in the kitchen) will give them the confidence and space for independent play.
By inviting them into your space, you are setting them up for success.
TIP: Invite your child to bring a few toys into your office space. And if your work for the 4 o’clock hour is to make dinner, set up the lego station on the kitchen floor (just watch your step).
My Favorite Parenting Hack: Sensory Bins
Regardless of the endless toddler requests, juggling work and kids is not going anywhere. And truthfully, it’s relentlessly difficult.
If you’ve strayed away from the idea of sensory bins because of their often notorious rap for “disaster zone,”… don’t panic at my suggestion!
I promise there is a rhyme and reason why these work. Introducing your child to sensory play is one of the best things you can do to stimulate, enhance and keep your kids busy so you can get your work done!
I keep a sensory bin in the room I work in. Here’s why:
- Kids like to be close
- Kids also crave connection
- Looking busy at work is a giant invitation to see if they can get my attention.
Sensory bins offer many benefits for your kids, especially for you!
Cut the Playdough is one of my favorite sensory play activities to set up for my kids in my office when I have work to get done. It requires almost no setup aside from gathering a few items you already have. (yeah, I am looking at those kitchen supplies that need to be replaced)
- Put a storage bin next to where you work.
- Add one or two colors of play dough.
- Add child-safe scissors if you feel comfortable.
WHY this works
My 5 Secrets that Support Sensory Play highlight WHY involving your kids, engaging, and playing with their senses is a valuable way for kids to learn and develop.
- Sensory play does not have to include a bin and beans.
- Sensory supplies are all around you.
- Your child may dislike getting wet.
- Sensory play does not have to be messy.
- Sensory play typically lasts longer than expected.
You may be cringing at the thought of setting up a sensory bin area for your kid in your workspace. Because let’s be honest, your workspace should be your private, quiet oasis. A space where you feel like you can escape the chaos, even in short increments in between naps, snacks, and meal times.
I have learned that having a sensory bin in the same space I work in allows us to do different things in the same room.
Best Sensory Activity Ideas to Get Started
The idea of sensory bins may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some of our top sensory play activities. Not all of these are cleared for the office space, but they offer a variety for your child to build practice and momentum with sensory bins. Kinetic sand is a favorite go-to because it is easy to clean up. Just remember to get the beach kinetic sand.
- 20+ Ways to Play with Kinetic Sand
- Bears in Kinetic Sand
- Bear Soup Imaginary Play for Kids
- Fall Sensory Play Mix Up
- Rock Sensory Play
- Sticky Pumpkin
Check out my 40 Sensory Bins list, which includes clean, water, and all things messy, for some easy and fun ideas to engage your child in sensory play!
Frankly, some of these sensory play activities may seem a bit ambitious for the everyday come-as-you-wish sensory invite – but they can be great for days when sensory play can make its way to the back deck.
Outside sensory ideas
When I have work, I can take outside; there’s no better place for sensory play than the outdoors! If you want to get your kids interested in sensory play, but the idea of ice cubes, beans, or shaving cream on your kitchen floor triggers your anxiety, then outside sensory play is for you (and your kids too)!
Outdoor sensory play is fun, adventurous, and the best way to make a mess you don’t have to fear! The best part about the outdoor sensory play: you don’t have to worry about the cleanup. Let the next rain clean it all up for you!
These are some of my sensory activities for kids once the weather warms up and we can take work outdoors:
- Apple Scoop and Sort
- Let’s Paint the Ice
- Bright and Sour Sensory Bin
- Pour to the Lines
- Scoop the Sea – Water Sensory Play
- Shapes and Shaving Cream
- Shaving Cream and LEGOS
Setting up outdoor sensory play is easy! No extra towels or rags are needed for those spills on the kitchen floor. Gather these Outdoor Sensory Play Supplies to set up some basic outdoor sensory activities for your kids!
Looking for More Ideas to Encourage Independent Play So You Can Get More Work Done?
Making Sensory Bins Make Sense for You & Your Child!
Life with kids at home can be so rewarding yet so draining. We are all trying to navigate how to balance work life, house life, and kid life. Try bringing your kid’s play space into your workspace (or visa versa) with these fun sensory play activities that keep your kids busy and you working productively and efficiently!
Figuring out how to successfully get your phone calls made, dinner on the table, and all those work emails sent can feel overwhelming. Invite your kids to play near your workspace, so they feel connected to you. Proximity offers closeness, both physically and emotionally.
Sensory bins are a fantastic way to keep your kids entertained while you finish your work. Offering your child a simple sensory activity offers open-ended play for exploration. Let their imagination run wild (but not too wild, or the mess won’t be fun for anyone)!
There are all kinds of sensory bin activities. You can set up a sensory bin outside if you try to avoid a messy house. Encouraging your kids to play outside is good for their exploration, growth, and soul!