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"Degrees & Programs"

Keep the kids busy for an hour

By University of Phoenix
April 28, 2020 • 2 minute read

Believe it or not, plopping your kids in front of the TV isn’t your only free babysitter. Try one (or more) of these activities to occupy your kids and free up some solid study time.

1. Let them build forts

Encourage kids to draw up a dream fort plan and let them use all available materials in the house — bed pillows, blankets, couch cushions, end tables and more. The less often you typically allow fort building, the more magnetic this option will be.

2. Go to the library

Head to your local library so you can plug in and get to studying while they wander the stacks, play with the puzzles and games, or use the library’s computers.

3. Create a craft-a-thon

Cater to age and interest with craft projects, such as decorating a table covered in craft paper with washable markers and stickers. Hook older kids up with more complex activities like origami, beading or sewing.

4. Make a “fun box”

Stock a plastic tub or tote with a selection of beloved age-appropriate toys and games they can only play with when you’re studying. Rarity makes those items extra special.

5. Encourage rest time

Downtime is good at any age. Let kids pick their favorite cozy spot for snuggling, lights low, with the option of sleeping or just resting quietly. Allow a few stuffed buddies or books, if you like.

6. Get them cleaning

Set kids up with tools such as dust cloths, spray bottles, a broom and dustpan or the vacuum, and give them a step-by-step on what needs to be done. Little kids may well be the most enthusiastic about “helping” in such an adult way — keep expectations low and praise high. Dangle a fun treat, such as going out for ice cream, as a reward for them when they finish the job.

7. Head outdoors

Let them dig in the sandbox, draw with chalk on the driveway or otherwise play while you study-watch from the porch or picnic table. Or, go to the park where you can work from a blanket in the shade. If you’re not afraid of a mess, try making Ooze by mixing cornstarch, water and food coloring. The homemade goo will keep them entertained for hours.

8. Set up a story hour

Kids able to read independently can settle in with their books of choice. Pair pre-readers with an older sibling or let them browse picture books. Another fine option for any age: audio books. Check them out at the library or subscribe to

9. Arrange a play date

Invite a friend over, set the ground rules and let them have a blast entertaining themselves within earshot. For young kids who need supervision, reach out to friends or neighbors and ask them to host a play date in exchange for you hosting one next week. Maybe even make it a regular thing.

Need more than an hour? Rather than extending one activity, try a couple of these tactics back-to-back with a snack break in between to better your chances of keeping the kids fully engaged. Translation: more time for you to focus on your studies.