Are you a V.A. with kids? (Or grand kids…nieces, nephews, neighbours under 3 ft tall)? Then today’s blog post is for you. If you are a Virtual Assistant with kids, then you already know that sometimes our best laid plans get hijacked and we are faced with a day of having kids home and client work that needs to happen. Sick days, snow days, days when the babysitter quits or the playdate gets cancelled, school holidays and sometimes even summer vacation. At one point or another you will find yourself bribing your kids to amuse themselves and keep quiet so you can get some work done. Got kids around this summer? Here are 10 ways you can keep ’em busy while you get work done.
1. Dollar store spray bottles. Keep a few on hand to fill with cool water on a hot day -then send them outside with bathing suits on. They can spray the flowers, spray designs onto hot pavement or even each other. (PS – they last longer than squirt guns and are less violent too!)
2. Have a movie day. This is best on a wickedly hot day so they can stay in and bask in the A/C. Kids love it if you let them put pajamas on in the middle of the day, have a bowl of popcorn and spend some time chilling out. Mom’s love it because this is a guaranteed 90 minutes of quiet!
3. Exchange playdates with other families. This is a totally win-win situation. The kids will have an easier time keeping themselves amused if they have a friend over…and in return you get an entire day off to yourself next time.
4. Give them a scavenger hunt (and make it good and hard!) Of course you will have to tailor your hunt to things that are age appropriate to your kids and items available in your yard. Throw in something ‘obscure’ like a bird feather and promise them a treat if they stay outside until they find EVERYTHING.
5. Pay someone to play with them. Are there older kids around your neighborhood who might be a little bored this summer? Offer them a few bucks to come over and play with your child for an hour or two. They don’t have to be of babysitting age since you will still be home – but they will be giving that much-needed attention to your kids so you can get a little work done.
6. Give them something new. Kids always seem to be bored to pieces with their own toys so be sure to keep it ‘fresh’ and they will be able to amuse themselves longer. For younger kids you can ‘rotate’ toys (hide some of them away in a bin then bring it out after it’s been forgotten). For older kids, keep a stock of craft supplies, notebooks, velvet doodles, markers, paints etc. You can get tons at the dollar store. When you need some time to do your client work, bust out the craft bag and let them unleash their creative genius!
7. Let them use the phone. This one might work better if your kids are slightly older…but I have a nine year old who could probably spend 5 hours chatting to a girlfriend. Normally something that is highly frowned upon, it can become a blessing when you have a deadline to meet.
8. Let them clean the bathroom. Seriously – I know this sounds weird – but my kids LOVE cleaning the bathrooms because they get to use spray bottles. (Although they won’t pick up their toys under any circumstance) Be sure to buy natural, non toxic cleaning products (or make your own). Stick them in the bathroom (where they can’t do too much damage – everything is washable) and they will spend an hour wiping, swishing the toilet brush around, polishing the faucet to make it shine! Bonus: your bathroom gets *sort of* clean.
9. Wear them out early. If you have young children who still nap – it can be totally worth an hour of your time at the park if they then sleep for 3 hours in the afternoon. Get up early and do a hard-core-lots–of-exercise activity in the fresh air so they will sleep longer and sounder later (or go to bed earlier). A little exercise can make YOU more productive later too!
10. You can always hide. Been there? Done that? I have. I seriously have. Last year my kids had a ‘snow day’ when school got cancelled, forcing me to do a client consultation while locked in my bathroom so they wouldn’t be able to hear the chaos going on with my kids downstairs.
I hope you find these tips helpful to keep the kiddos out of your hair while you are in crisis mode. But remember that summer is also a great time to slow down a little and spend more time playing with them. This year I meet 4 other Mom’s with kids at the park every morning to workout for an hour. The kids all play, I get my exercise done and we all get to spend some time together before I have to ship them off and hit the computer. I also quit a little earlier each day so we can do ‘fun stuff’ before supper each night. With a little planning you can keep your business booming and your kids smiling all summer long.