SILENCE! Getting the kids to shut up without saying shut up!
When you work from home and have kids (or pets or spouses or roommates) you’ll inevitably be tasked with trying to conduct an important call in a house that’s... less than quiet. Even if everyone ‘knows’ you’re working, they don’t always seem to KNOW you’re working. There are times when absolute quiet (or as close as we can get to it) is required. But how? Sure, I’ve certainly counted on the TV or a screen at times - saving ‘screen time’ for those hours when it works best for my meeting schedule, but there’s nothing louder than my kiddos re-enacting the ninja scene they’re watching on TV or fighting over the remote so it’s not always the best option.
I’m constantly trying out new options for keeping the chaos to a minimum. And while I’m not always 100% successful (who is?) I am getting better every day and am happy to share a few of my favorites to keep things silent in the house at critical moments. Will it keep them busy all day - no, but it may just buy you a few crucial minutes when it counts the most.
Need 5-10 minutes to plan for tomorrow?
Candy - I know, I know, I certainly won’t win any best mom awards for this one. But when all you need is 5-10 minutes to finish up the end of a call nothing beats tossing a bag of gummi candies at your kiddos to guarantee a few minutes of peace. When I’m stressing over the processed sugars and dyes, I go for something like dye free and/or organic lollipops to calm the mom guilt. The key here is that it must be something that takes a little work to enjoy. They’ll tear through a bag of chips in a second but hard or chewy candy keeps those little mouths quiet and busy for at least a few moments.
10-15 minutes for a quick call with colleagues?
Puzzles - These are a favorite for killing at least 10-15 minutes (if not much more) amongst all ages. There are puzzles for every age and ability out there from young to old and simple to complex. They are generally quiet activities but can be done solo or as a group. I always keep a few puzzles of varying ability close at hand. And the great thing is that they can be started and stopped and picked back up again at any time. There are some really interesting 3D puzzles and lock box style puzzles out there to keep things really interesting.
15-20 minutes to chat with a client?
Drawing & Art Supplies - An old standby but it’s a classic for a reason. While the 4 year old is working on his letters and stick figures the 11 year old is crafting comics and intense battle scenes. Get dad involved and he’s creating the logo for his next side hustle and suddenly I have 20+ minutes of quiet time to make a quick video or schedule a decent call. Supplies can be simple - pen and paper - or include fun glittery markers, interesting stencils, glue, stamps, you name it! Give them a challenge before hand to garner more time - create a book or comic about your best friend or ideal vacation. Design the house of your dream - no limits. Let their imaginations go wild while you focus on work.
20+ minutes and now we’re really getting some work done!
Send them outside - this is of course dependent on the age of your kiddos and the area you live in but pushing the kids outside and locking the door is a sure way to get a little quiet. Making it fun for them is vital to keeping them out there even longer. Keep a supply of sidewalk chalk and small digging tools by the door to entertain them for a bit. Or, if you know in advance that you’ll need some time - create an outdoor scavenger hunt that will keep them busy. Keep it simple but involved - find 3 different leaves, a rock that looks like an animal, a four leaf clover, etc. depending on your yard. Anything that will keep them engaged and looking. And for some reason, my kids can spend hours finding and re-hiding plastic easter eggs no matter what the season. Empty or stocked with treats they’ll keep looking for them way longer than I usually need.
- Rotate your supply! Novelty quickly wears off of regularly used toys for both kids, adults and animals alike. Keep a special bin of quiet supplies that are used in a pinch but are quickly gathered back up and stored for the next emergency. You may have to let the kiddos finish their puzzle, but once they’re done hide it back in your space to be kept out of sight until next time.
- Pipe in some muzak - Ok, not elevator muzak but low key, kid friendly melodies. Music can often be the gateway to emotion so turn on a little kid friendly classical (thanks Pandora!) or some favorite chill time lullabies to help calm the room. Coupling low energy music with an quiet indoor craft, book or puzzle can help garner a few moments of quiet.
Planning & preparation is key! Afterall, you don’t want to end up on a super important call, like this working dad, and have your ‘quiet kiddo plan’ fall short. Most of us are lucky our failed attempts haven’t been broadcast on national TV, but what I wouldn’t give for his super chill response in the face of disaster. Talk about working from home parent goals!
Check out a few of these options to make your silence a reality! And we’d love to hear what works best for you. When work demands silent surroundings, how do you adjust?