Entertaining kids while you work

Part of the reason I started this blog was to keep me focused on doing one art project a day with my kids, but the real reason was much bigger than that.  I got really sick about 8 months ago.  It wasn't necessarily the kind of sick that put me in the hospital or completely out of commission.  I had a really bad case of depression.  Maybe I am being too honest here.  I feel a little embarrassed to tell such a personal thing, but maybe some of you are in the same boat.  The depression was nothing like I had ever had before.  I couldn't get out of bed.  I cried almost every day.  I couldn't take care of myself let alone my children.  I thought about death and wanted to die.  Once it got to this point I went to a doctor and I can say that everything has looked up from there.  As soon as I started to have a clearer mind, I came up with the idea of this blog to help me stay focused on being the mom I used to be before the depression.

For the last 8 months while I was asleep, laying in bed, feeling sad and helpless; my children watched television. Lots and lots of television.  Now they are addicted.  My son can't go more than 10 minutes without asking for the television to be turned on.  I have to unplug it and put the cord where it can't be reached to keep my two year old from turning it on herself when I am not looking.  Really all they did for about 6-8 months was watch television.  All....day....long.  That's very boring.

Breaking a habit is always a really hard thing.  The kids are struggling with this a lot.  I am trying to take it a day at a time.  Today we started a new rule after a battle all day with my son to keep the television off.  I let them decide the programs they want to watch.  James and Grace get to watch one (1/2 hour) program while Ally is at school.  Then they all can watch one more (1/2 hour) program when Ally comes home.  We only have PBS so there isn't a ton to chose from.  They chose Wild Kratts and Dinosaur Train.  So we will only have the tv on for those two times in the day.  The rest of the time they need to play, create, and be kids.  This means a lot of entertaining from me until they get back into good habits.  You see before we moved to Pittsburgh from Indiana we watched very little television.  My kids were the best pretenders in the world so I feel bad that in 8 months that has been stolen from them through the television.

Generally, I always have my children watch television while I cook dinner.  Since I said no more television that wasn't the case tonight.  Right as I started to prepare dinner I had three very whiny kids hanging on my legs and arms saying they were bored.  I didn't have much time because dinner needed my attention.  I ran to their room and looked at their art stash on the back of their door.  I grabbed a few things that I saw that looked good: pop cycle sticks, glue, paper, oil pastels and ran them to the kitchen.  As I started cooking I added a few more things to the table like dry noodles and beans.  I told them, just make something - anything.  And they did and for the most part they were entertained and out of my hair for 45 minutes.  They also loved talking to me while I cooked and told me about what they were doing the whole time.

Getting Started
My youngest two finished in about 15 minutes, but they were off playing so that worked out
James made a few houses
Grace did a drawing 
Grace worked on her gluing skills
Ally stuck with it for over an hour creating several things that need to be dried and worked on more as well.  I had to beg her to clean up so we could use the table for dinner!
It was great and it was easy.  I am all for letting kids entertain themselves and doing something that takes two minutes to prepare for. This was just that.  If you have any of my same troubles you may need to get an art supply going and just throw things out for your kids to do if you need a minute to yourself, it may surprise you at what they do.

What do you do to entertain the kids when you need a moment without turning to the television or other electronics?  


  1. I think this is beautiful in its honesty and I really think it could be helpful to someone who finds themself in a similar situation. Thank you for sharing about it.

  2. oh dearest laura. thank you for being so vulnerable about what happened. as a mother with chronic depression, anxiety issues, bipolar type II, and borderline personality disorder, i understand how hard it is to "out" yourself on your blog. i did it on mine not too long ago. here's the link if you want to read it. http://crayonfreckles.blogspot.com/2011/04/letter-to-editor.html
    it is my letter to the editors of parents magazine. another blog you might want to check out is a dear friend's of mine. http://lookingforlogos.org/ emily is wonderfully open about her afflictions and eloqeuently writes about it and how it's lead her to a beautiful life with God. sorry for the novel. any how, i'm folloowing you now. your blog has been in my sidebar for a few weeks now, so i'm not sure why i wasn't a listed follower?? but it's fixed now. blessings to you and your crafty, imaginative kiddos. andie @ http://crayonfreckles.blogspot.com

  3. I agree with Anna, it can be hard to admit when you're not feeling like yourself and can be so isolating. I think that it will be really helpful to someone that's feeling alone to know that they aren't the only ones.
    I'm very glad that things have been looking up and that you started the blog.

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas on this blog. I've really been enjoying them and have tried some with my kids.
    As far as them staying busy, there are several things we do. Sometimes they play with toys, like their mini animals. Sometimes they play games like red light green light. Sometimes they color or do other art projects. Sometimes they read/look at books. Puzzles and balls are favorites too.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  5. I'm taking baby steps here, because you know how much of a "control freak" I can be especially when it comes to "making a mess". I've gotten better about bringing down the play dough and finally have some organization done with their supplies. Actually we spend a lot of time on homework from school now, and when Aiden does his homework, Devin has to do "homework" too...so that has been great getting me to give him some art supplies etc.
    I love your honesty and understand how hard it is to come to grips with it all. I am so grateful you are in my life and there for me when I needed you the most. I wish we were closer and pray that in a week we'll be blessed with amazing news!!

  6. I can totally relate to the needing to entertain the kids while in the middle of doing something else. I'm not as brave as you when it comes to just giving them glue and messy art supplies while not under my direct supervision *AHHH* but I try to give them some creative outlet during these times. Very good mommy-ing. TV is too often the easy cop out that is tempting to use but bad for developing imagination and creativity.


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