- Give them a fun way to communicate with you.
- Set and enforce expectations.
- Work together to create a fun to-do list for them.
- Coordinate playdates with friends/neighbors. (Editor’s note: This article was written before “social distancing” was recommended. Please follow the advice of your local officials and limit contact with others.)
- Create ways to communicate what kind of work zone you’re in.
- Relax your screen time rules. Really, they’ll be OK.
- If safe, send them outside.
- Designate a kid-free space.
- Create fun zones throughout your house.
- Tag team, if possible.
- Invest in craft supplies.
- Enjoy that big kid.
Leela, my daughter, is 9 and in the third grade. She’s what I like to call my “high-touch” client. She loves attention, loves to tell stories and use her imagination and wants me within looking distance when she’s home and I’m working.
She’s less maintenance than she used to be, thank you TikTok, but that means I need to know what she’s up to, thank you TikTok.
I asked her this morning on the way to school what advice she’d have for parents of kids her age. She suggested buying cool sticky notes and giving them to kids so they have a way to jot down questions and save them for when mom and dad are free. (Maybe make a suggestion box!) She also thought it would be cool to have an “on air” or “do not disturb” sign on the door to my office so she’d know if I was in the zone even if I wasn’t on the phone.
I love those. My advice on this age group: Work with them to create a menu of things they can do and keep it on the fridge or somewhere they can find it when they’re so bored they literally cannot take it anymore you don’t understand. Make slime. Watch “PrestonPlayz” on YouTube. Draw. Practice cartwheels. FaceTime Grandma. Build in Minecraft. Cut Barbie hair. Take a bath. Watch TV. Make fake YouTube videos with that old phone.
Like Cobham said, use your village. I met my best mom friends at the Saturday morning dance class four years ago. They’ve given my kid snacks when I’m in the car on last-minute interviews, rides home when there’s breaking news, hugs, sleepovers and usually have wine waiting for me. I’m guessing we’ll be rotating children from house to house very soon. (Hey Siri, remind me to stock up on wine.)
Also, set expectations and reward them for being followed at this age (honey vs. vinegar and all that.) And when you’re done working or can take a break, set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes and lavish that kid with attention.
Kate Wehr, a freelance writer, editor and business manager in Montana, is the mom of four kids 8 and under. She shared what’s worked for her on Facebook.
Get those kids outside.
“If it isn’t too cold/windy, and your kids are old enough and you live in a safe neighborhood (lot of caveats there!), hand the kids a snack and kick them outside for an hour.”
Claim some space for yourself.
“We have one child’s bedroom that functions as an alternative play space during the day, because our house is too small for a real playroom. If the kids are too disruptive out in the family spaces, I send them in there.”
Create some space for them.
“We also started keeping a LEGO table in another part of the house, where older children can periodically escape to entertain themselves.”
Tag team, if possible.
“My spouse is self-employed, so if his schedule permits it, he’ll sometimes take a child with him to run errands. (That usually doesn’t get allll of them out of my hair, but it helps.)”
“I keep a bin of craft paper, glue, markers, kid scissors, etc., that elementary aged children can dig out if they want to work on a project.”
Related: Have to teach virtually on short notice? We’re here to help.