How to Keep Toddler Busy While You Work From Home

October 16, 2020

“The Perfect Stay at Home Mom Routine”
“How to Get Things Done with a Baby”
“Productive Daily Schedule for Moms”

Seen those titles floating around Pinterest lately? They are everywhere! Honestly, I even have several posts with similar titles. 

But what those other posts don’t tell you is how to keep your toddler or baby occupied for more than 2 seconds.

We all know that toddlers have a short attention span. They are doing one thing and see something else and are on to the next toy. So you may be wondering how to keep toddlers busy while working from home?

Today I’m going to specifically focus on toddlers because that is the stage I am in right now. 

I work from home and I’m also in my senior year of college (online). Needless to say, I need my daughter to stay occupied without me for more than 2 minutes. 

Now before we get started let’s talk a little bit about setting realistic expectations. I seriously struggle with this. 

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How to keep a toddler busy while you work

Instagram vs. Reality

I see all those moms on Instagram or where ever and their kid is playing contently and they’re doing all these Pinterest worthy activities and comparison starts to creep in. 

But let me tell you a secret…they don’t have it all together!

We are only seeing 15 seconds of their whole day. Yes, their child might have been playing contently for 15 seconds but right after that video they may have dumped out all the markers they were drawing with or drawn on the walls or a myriad of different things could have gone “wrong.” 

Why are toddlers so busy?

Short answer? Because they are learning! Toddlers learn through exploring things and learning how things work. Everything is new and exciting to them and they want to explore it all!

How to start independent play time with toddlers

We have to shift our perspective to what is realistic for our own child.

We can’t expect 2-3-year-olds to sit for an hour and play by themselves, that isn’t going to happen. 

We can however work with them and build up to them playing for 30 minutes or so by themselves. 

You have to start small and work your way up. This can be frustrating but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Start with 5 minutes or so. 

  • Give your child an activity and tell them that you want them to play with that for 5 minutes while mommy goes and does something.
  • You can even reward them. Tell them what after the 5 minutes then mommy will sit and play with them but only if they play with their toy for 5 minutes. 
  • Gradually add on time to this and work your way up to whatever amount of time your child can reasonably handle with playing independently. 

Okay, that’s great and all but what am I supposed to give them to play with that will keep them busy for that long?

I’m glad you asked! Don’t give them electronic toys or toys that only have one use. You want to give them more open-ended or imaginative toys. 

Ideas to keep a 2 year old occupied

  • You could give them blocks and little people to create a town.
  • You could give them baby dolls and accessories.
  • You could give them play kitchen toys and stuffed animals to feed.
  • You want to give them things that can be played within multiple ways that way they aren’t getting bored as easily. 

Now I also have some other ideas but these take just a little bit of work on the front end but I promise it’s worth it. 

How to entertain a toddler

You can make toddler busy boxes!

I know that sounds expensive or overwhelming but it’s not! All you have to do is go to the dollar store and get some supplies.

I’ll give you a few examples.

*Disclaimer: You should be able to trust that your child will not put things in their mouth or you should watch them while playing with these items as some of them are choking hazards due to small pieces. 

Threading busy box

All you need for this is some pipe cleaners and some wooden beads.

Your little one can then string the bead onto the pipe cleaner. They can color match, make patterns, make jewelry, or whatever their imagination says.

Toddler pom pom activities

All you need for this is some construction paper, colored pom balls, and a pair of kids size tweezers.

Lay out different colors of construction paper to match the pom poms. Have your child use the tweezers to pick up the pom-poms and put them on the write color.

Toddler activities for working moms

There are also a couple other things you can do to help keep your toddler entertained while you work or do housework.

Sensory Bins for Toddlers

Something else you could do to keep your toddler busy is to create sensory bins. I’m going to put links below to some of our favorite sensory bin ideas. You probably have most of the supplies on hand already!

Toy Rotation

If you are like me, your toddler has wayyyy too many toys. Put some of those toys away in a closet and then bring 1-2 out periodically so they are like new toys for your child.

Kids tend to play with new things for longer periods of time because they aren’t the same old thing they see every day. 

Art projects for toddlers

You could set up some easy art projects for toddlers. I’ll link a few of our favorites below but you can just go on Pinterest and search “easy toddler art projects” and all sorts of things will pop up!

Learning Toys

You can also search online for some learning toys. You can find lacing activities, puzzles, building activities, and all sorts of things. Just search “educational toddler toys” and see what comes up!

Other ideas for getting things done with a toddler

Babysit swap

If you have other mom friends that are also trying to work from home or even just get things done around the house, you could talk to them about swapping babysitting.

You watch her kid for a few hours so she can get things done and then next time she watches your kid so you can get things done. We moms got to help each other out!

Use screens when necessary

It’s not best to resort to screens all the time but if there is something you absolutely have to get done and your toddler won’t sit still for just a few minutes then there is no shame in using screen time.

Try to choose an educational show but don’t feel mom guilt for having your little one watch a little TV. Give yourself some grace!

RELATED: 7 Best Educational Shows for Toddlers

Use nap time to your advantage

Be as productive as possible during nap time. It can be helpful to save more involved tasks for nap time so that they can have your full attention.

RELATED: How to be Productive as a Work at Home Mom

However, don’t get too busy at nap time that you forget to give yourself a little time to relax and recharge before your little one is up and at it again!

How to keep toddlers busy so you can get things done around the house

What are some of your tips for keeping your toddler busy while you work? Let us know in the comments!

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