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Before the pandemic, few people had the luxury of being allowed to work from home. But once offices closed down to halt the spread of the coronavirus, all of that changed. For Jeremy Diamond, managing partner of the Diamond and Diamond Law Firm, it meant finding ways to support a team of over 200 lawyers spread across 13 offices as they made the transition.
At first, he focused on finding the right technology to keep everyone working productively. But once everyone settled in, Jeremy began to recognize that there was a bigger issue brewing. It was that his team was having difficulty maintaining the right work/life balance now that the line between home and office had vanished.
“I went from answering technical questions about the finer points of trial law to advising on how my associates could carve out enough quiet time at home to focus on their cases. But being a father of two myself, it was something I’ve had to do also, so I had plenty of experience to draw on” said Jeremy.
So, he put together a list of activities that his associates could use to keep their kids busy while they worked. “Whether they were working in Ontario, Alberta or Miami, I wanted all of the Diamond and Diamond lawyers to be able to keep their kids happy and occupied while they worked from home. So, I brainstormed some activities that weren’t location-specific and that I knew my kids had enjoyed over the years.”
And here’s the result of Jeremy Diamond’s efforts. A big list of fun and engaging activities to keep kids busy while their parents work from home, which he’s been gracious enough to share for the benefit of workers everywhere.
1. Making Paper Chains
Any time you can get kids engaged by using a challenge to spur them on, it’s bound to be a hit. That’s why asking your kids to make the longest paper chain they can in a limited amount of time is a perfect way to keep them busy while you work. It’s an especially good option when you know how much time you need – like for a weekly staff meeting – and can give your kids a set endpoint in advance. Plus, you’ll end up with some great homemade decorations to brighten up your home.
2. Online Learning Activities
When you want to keep your kids busy but you’d prefer they use their time productively, consider turning to an online learning activity in a subject they enjoy. Jeremy Diamond says “Any time you can gamify learning, you can teach your kids that mastering new skills doesn’t have to be a chore. There are online activities that can even make learning math fun, so there’s something for everyone out there if you look.”
3. Sidewalk Chalk Art
One of the great things about working from home is that you can do your work wherever it suits you. That means you don’t have to keep your kids cooped up inside all day. Instead, try giving them some sidewalk chalk, and using masking tape to mark off a design for them to colour in. Then you can work outside while keeping an eye on their progress.
4. A LEGO City Building Challenge
Although turning kids loose with a pile of LEGO often leads to sore feet, there is a way to use the ubiquitous toys that avoids that outcome. It’s to challenge your kids to build a LEGO city using every block they have. Depending on the size of their collection, you might keep them occupied for days with this one. Jeremy Diamond says “If you don’t have a big LEGO collection and don’t want to have to buy more, consider using a LEGO challenge calendar with smaller projects for your kids to complete.”
If you have more than one child, you don’t have to come up with many activities because your kids will tend to keep each other occupied. But if you only have one, you need to get a little more creative. That means finding solo activities that won’t bore them. And although they’ve been around forever, the card games Solitaire and Spider Solitaire fit the bill. They both offer engaging gameplay that will teach your kids patience and strategic thinking. You may be shocked at how absorbed kids get while playing them.
6. Building a Complex Domino Chain
Much like asking your kids to build LEGO creations, you can also challenge them to build the longest and most creative domino chain possible. If you have the time, consider mapping one out on paper with them to get them started. Jeremy Diamond, lawyer, says “By helping your kids plan their domino chain, you can control the amount of time it should take them to finish. Plus, they’re bound to knock sections down accidentally along the way, which will make things all the more challenging.” And when they finish, you can film the results so they can watch them again and again.
7. Imagining and Building Rube Goldberg Machines
When your kids start to tire of the limitations imposed by dominos, it’s the time to take the next step. You can challenge them to build Rube Goldberg machines out of the dominos and other household items. To get them interested, show them some clips of the Japanese children’s show Pythagora Switch. Every episode opens and closes with one of these complex contraptions, each more entertaining than the last. Before you know it, your kids will know how to turn clothespins, books, and spoons into all manner of fascinating machines.
8. Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Another great way to keep your kids occupied while you work is to set up an indoor scavenger hunt. That way you can declare your workspace off-limits but hide objects everywhere else (safely, of course) for your kids to hunt for. Jeremy Diamond, lawyer, says “To do this without risking finding a mess when you’re done working, have your kids photograph the things they’re trying to find rather than physically collecting them. That way they can complete the challenge at a safe distance and there won’t be as much cleanup afterward.”
9. Kid-Safe Science Experiments
There’s never a bad time to get your kids interested in science. So why not give them the tools to learn by conducting some kid-safe science experiments while you work? They’ll have fun making their own paper or building a baking soda volcano, and learn quite a bit in the process. And because the experiments are simple enough for them to do on their own, it creates plenty of time to get some work done while they enjoy themselves.
10. Build a Movie Night Fort
Last but not least, you can keep your kids busy by having them use empty boxes, pillows, blankets, and couch cushions to build a fort in the living room. And you can tempt them to make it extra-sturdy and nice by promising to host a movie night from the fort after the workday is done. Just you, them, their favourite movie, and some popcorn. They’ll have fun building it and you’ll end up having some quality bonding and relaxation time with them afterward.
Work From Home While the Kids Play
With all of these fun options to choose from, any parent now working from home can keep their kids occupied and get their work done with ease. And as Jeremy points out, “Your work is important, but your kids always have to come first. That’s why I let all of the Diamond and Diamond lawyers know that they should start every day by setting up plenty of fun activities for their children before getting to work. It’s better for everyone involved and it makes this grand work from home experiment so much easier to navigate.”
And since it looks like working from home is a trend that’s going to outlast the pandemic, there’s no time like the present for working parents to build up a kid-friendly activity repertoire. And when they do, everybody wins – you, your children, and your employer.
About Jeremy Diamond
Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and member of both Ontario and Florida Bars. Jeremy practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation. Click here to learn more about Jeremy Diamond.