Are your coworkers driving you batty? Barging into your work space and demanding snacks? Throwing tantrums and blaring the Disney channel from the next room?
Work at home moms know this struggle all too well. Trying to balance your kids’ needs (and attention span!) with your business demands is tough. This is true with young children, but with school aged kids as well. Most mom bosses crave uninterrupted work time that allows them to focus for more than a 5 minute interval.
An Options Board is one way to train kids to entertain themselves, while you get work done. Yes, I said train. It takes encouragement and reminding, and some baby steps to get some kids to play on their own and not show you something every 5 minutes. That is their normal. That is what Mommy is for. Teaching them patience and how to play on their own are valuable skills. You will be thankful one day that you taught them not to interrupt. Of course, all kids are unique and have different needs, so use your judgement about what will work for your kids.
For Mom: Scheduled uninterrupted work time. Think about the true beauty of that.
For kids: Entertaining themselves through self guided play time. For real. It can happen.
The idea behind the board is that your child chooses one option from the left side of the board. They play this option for the time allotted in order to do the activity on the right, for the same amount of time. During this time, you are working and ‘off limits’ (except for emergencies of course).
Time and Place: Choose when this may work best in your day. It should be predictable- same time everyday.
Supplies: Just grab a whiteboard, chalkboard, or even a piece of paper, timer.
Options: Come up with 3 activities that your kids can do that are quiet(ish), not super messy, and have little potential for household destruction. Some examples: Legos, coloring, puzzles, quiet boxes/busy bags, word search/soduko, reading, basketball on driveway, painting, dollhouse. You can print out our Summer Activity List that has over 100 other ideas.
The idea behind having three options is that your child feels some control over what she/he is going to do. They can also make suggestions regarding options.
Rewards: These should be activities that do not require your assistance; iPad, video games, tv, etc. If you don’t want it to be screen time, choose something that is novel and has high appeal.
When your child chooses their option, let them get set up and gather their toys before starting the timer. Veteran tip: When the timer does go off, ask them if they want to keep playing! Often times they will. When their time is up, they need to clean up. Not you. The second activity does not start until everything is put away. Once they are ready to start the second activity, you start the timer.
This may take some tries to get going. The first week you may need to be guiding the cleanup or reminding that Mommy is in her Work Zone (over and over). Give it time and start to help less and less until they are doing it on their own.
Once you are in the groove, YOU need to plan ahead for what you are going to do during Options time. Set a goal for the first half and strive to beat the timer before the second activity starts.
- Small time increments – 10 minutes for each side.
- 3 choices- 1 reward
- Mom controls timer
- Increase increments of time (15-20 minutes)
- Kids help with suggestions for options or rewards
- Kids clean up on their own and ask to begin reward
- Increase time to 30-45 minutes
- Kids have the choice to do more than one Option to receive an equal number of Rewards
- Kids fill in the Options or Reward (with your approval)
- Kids control the timer (keep an eye on your clock)
You can make this to fit your family. Maybe the Options are chores, or academic activities. Switch it up each day or base the options on a theme. The possibilities are endless.
Need help getting this started? Let me help you! Robin@WomensBusinessWorkshop.com