It’s March 17th. I’m just over a month into my new job after a cross-country move, and my boss stands over my desk saying, “Take all your stuff home. We will most likely be working from home starting tomorrow… indefinitely.”
Oh. Goodbye new routine.
I felt so many emotions. On one hand, I was anxious… we were in a pandemic and I wondered if the security of my job and the health of my family were in jeopardy. On the other, this meant I could finally be home with my then eight-month-old (something I always wanted but never had the option to consider). I chose to focus on that. I could be the work-from-home mother I dreamed of… at least for a little while.
My New Norm (And Maybe Yours Too)
What I didn’t think about were all the ways my son, Henry, would need entertainment throughout the day. Those 12ish hours between wake and bedtime that needed to be fillllllled.
As his eyes grew bigger to the world, and as he developed his pincer grasp and love for play—he craved exploration—and it was on me, a full-time working mom who was suddenly at home in her PJs to provide it.
The thing was, I was more than happy to. But where and how would I find the time? Sure, I was a creative person but I was also an FTM who had no idea where to start with creating a learning environment for him and an office for myself.
That’s when my Google search began.
- Ways to keep a baby entertained
- Developmental skills for an 8-month-old
- Sensory activities for baby
- Activities to keep your baby engaged
- Working from home with a baby
I compiled my list and got to creating.
So, for all you WFH/SAH moms looking for fun, creative (and mostly free) ways to encourage some baby exploration while you mute conference calls and get ready from the neck up for Zoom meetings—this one’s for you.
Activities to Entertain Baby
Pots and Pans Music Minute
Get out the pots and pans and let your little one have at it with large plastic or wooden spoons. They’ll be entertained by the bold sounds they make—and so will you. Give it about twenty minutes. Then you’ll both be done. 😉
Homemade Tupperware Music
Fill some transparent plastic Tupperware with uncooked rice or pasta and watch them shake-shake-shake it out. Curious eyes are drawn to the food behind the lid and the added sound will keep them engaged for a while.
Zip-lock Bag Paintings
It’s a mess-free way to let your baby explore colors and textures. Put a sheet of paper in a zip-lock bag, squeeze some dots of paint on the paper, seal it up, and tape to the high chair. Let them squish, slap, and smudge to their liking to create their best masterpiece yet. Want to add some extra texture? Use bubble wrap instead of a plastic bag.
Baby in a Box
Legit. Put your baby in an Amazon box (we all have one hanging around) with a few toys and let them check out their new view.
Cook some spaghetti, try not to eat it, color it with food dye, let it cool and watch the curiosity take over. This is a great activity to introduce colors and textures… and spaghetti mustaches.
Scarves in a Laundry Basket
Do you have a laundry basket with holes on the sides? Utilize those little gaps by pulling scarves through so baby can pull and tug the material from all sides! Easy to set up, great for eye-hand coordination, and will surely keep them busy for a bit.
Toys in Jell-O
Mix up some Jell-O and place a few toys into the liquid before setting it overnight in the fridge. Your little one will be beyond fascinated with the cool feeling of the Jell-o once it’s ready to be played with. Fishing out familiar, beloved toys is the best part.
Song and Dance
Music just makes us all feel good (unless it’s a mini piano… just look at that face). And, so does a little lively dance session. Break up the day with some song-and-dance. Introduce your baby to music you love. Hold them in your arms as you sway around the house. It’s amazing what just five minutes of movement can do for your mind, body, and soul.
Who’s That in the Mirror?
Reflections are the COOLEST. Well, to babies at least. When they can see their expressions mimicked back, they will almost always express their delight with a giggle. Any size will do – whether it’s a full-length mirror or a smaller one you can tote around from room to room.
Sensory Water Bottle
Have some glitter, confetti, ribbon, or other eye-catching knick-knacks hanging around the house? Place what you find into a filled water bottle and voilà—you’ve got yourself a quick-and-easy, DIY, sensory water bottle. Spin it, roll it… keep that baby exploring!
Muffin Pan/Egg Carton Trinket Holder
Grab one or the other, fill the individual divots with random objects, and allow baby to get thoughtful and meticulous about how they move, gather, and handle the small objects before them. You can show them how to explore or sit back and watch them give it a go on their own.
Can you hop on a work a call while taking the stroller for a spin? Can you spare a ten-minute break in the backyard? Now that the summer’s here, grab all the Vitamin D you can. Oh, what a little fresh air can do for the babes AND you. It’s been said babies sleep better, too, when exposed to the sunshine and the great outdoors during the day. And, hey, who doesn’t want a soundly sleeping baby at the end of a very long workday?
When the day is done and the laptop’s closed, don’t stress about how many activities or things you “did” with your baby to engage them in every way possible. Some simple independent play is so good for the little one(s). It is absolutely A-OK for babies to feel a sense of boredom. Let them have some dull moments (we all do) and see how creative they can get.
Between activities with your baby, remind yourself of this: this time at home with your LO is precious. No matter what sensory game or arts-and-craft project you do that day, the quality time with them is the most important thing of all. Don’t—for one second—doubt that you’re not doing enough. You, alone, are enough.
So enjoy the little moments of laughter, smiles, cuddles, and togetherness. When this whole strange segment of life has passed us by and life begins to “normalize” again, those will be the things that you’ll remember most.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you’d like to chat babies, balancing work and #momlife, and/or anything in between.