Home (Office) for the Holidays: Keeping Kids Focused & Outta Your Business

It’s the last day of school before winter break. If you listen closely, you can hear from across the hills and neighborhood, the cries of home office working parents and corporate office denizens lamenting their shared misery: “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR TWO WEEKS WITH THESE RASCALS OUT OF SCHOOL?!”

Here in the home office, where I’ve worked since before our 20-year-old daughter was born, I’ve had ample chance to device systems and methods to keep the little imps out of my hair (and keep from pulling said hair from my scalp) as I try to work and they seem intent to have fun.

And it’s not just about the home officer. Corporate-office workers face an even more daunting fate: How do I keep the kids busy if I’m supposed to be in some office downtown?

OK, these aren’t the Middle Ages so dungeons and pillories aren’t the answers.

The answers are simple:

First, adjust the work schedule to be more flexible with kids’ schedules. Begin work earlier, work later or otherwise alter the routine to work when kids sleep, nap or are out playing with friends. Next…

Call other friends and parents to see what they’ll be up to for the holidays. Discuss plans and events. Review movie listings to see what’s going on that can be a diversion / distraction for the kids. Make sure the kids call (oops, they don’t call. They IM or text) their friends, too. Let them make some plans.

* For younger children, keep DVDs, books or coloring books on hand. Accumulate crafts (beads, colored markers and posterboard, lanyards – or boondogle, as the kids often call it) to keep the younger ones busy. For older children, keep books, crafts and projects around. Rent dollar flicks. WalMart and some grocery chains have the dollar-a-day movie rental kiosks. These are great, cheap distractions.

* Keep plenty of activities and toys in the home office itself to keep little bodies busy and quiet while you’re on the phone.

* Enlist older kids to help with work-related projects, like stuffing envelopes or affixing stamps to letters. Pay is a good motivator and will help teach kids what it means to work.

* Take 10-minute mini-breaks with the kids to spend some time away from work and get them started on books, projects or crafts.

* Keep plenty of fruit, snacks and juice on hand. Better yet, make it accessible to the kids so they’ll bug you less.

* Schedule play groups with other kids. That way, if there are three kids in the play group, each parent is responsible for entertaining one of three days. What’s more, the kids will keep themselves busy.

* Plan a scavanger hunt. These are really fun indoor or outdoor adventures. They don’t take long to stage, and can keep the kids busy for hours. If sending the kids out into the neighborhood, it might be a good idea to give them a cell phone — just to keep in touch.

* Have them work. The holidays shouldn’t be all about playtime. Have them grab a bucket, some soap and rags, and scour the neighborhood looking for cars to wash. Or they can clean up around people’s lawns.

* Have them volunteer with a charity serving food, organizing food-bank supplies, or generally giving back as a productive and thoughtful member of society.

* Homework, reading and journaling. Foster in them the spirit of personal reading or journaling. They could even launch their own blog. It’s thought-provoking, inspiring – and addicting.

Search the Web for other ideas. Two weeks is a long time to have kids at home. Make it rewarding for all involved.

If all else fails and time permits, take off and spend some time together. Working from home means being the boss.

Related posts:

  1. Holidays Are No Holiday for Home Office Parents
  2. Home Office + Spring Break: Whatcha Gonna Do When the Kids Come Home…?
  3. Kids (Back) in the Home Office: No Vacay from Fay
  4. Home Office Classroom: Keeping Brain Business Fit
  5. Keeping Kinder Busy in the Home Office