The holidays are the perfect time to unwind, switch off technology, and spend time with family.  

Until reality hits and you realize you’re not in a Disney movie, you work from home, and some deadlines can’t wait a full two weeks!

Of course, scheduling in quality time with the kids with no business distractions can and should happen. But, if you’re a work-from-home mom like me, you know you’ll have to get out your laptop at some point.

Having young kids home for the Holidays while you’re at your desk at work doesn’t have to feel stressful. In fact, this can be a perfect opportunity to give them a glimpse into mommy’s workday while encouraging them to play independently.

Ideas for Independent Play as You Manage Your At-Home Workday

Here are five of my favourite independent play activities to help bust the boredom and allow you to achieve some productive work time over the holidays.

1. “These are Some of My Favourite Things!”

Here’s is an activity to do in stages. A small portion will require your help, but otherwise, they will enjoy independently creating.

First, grab a stack of magazines, ideally ones with pictures of toys and other kids in them.  Have your kids go through the pages and rip out what catches their eye. This activity is fun on its own, especially for younger kids as it encourages exploration and works on motor skills.  

When they’re done ripping out the pages, with your help, cut out their favourite images on each page. Set them up at the table with a glue stick and construction paper so they can paste their pictures on paper to create a collage of their favourite things. This is especially fun if they’re putting together a visual list for Santa!  

2. Dear Santa (and Grandma & Grandpa)

Get your kids involved with sending out holiday and thank you cards by letting them write out some of their own!  

Buy a box of cards just for them and have them write out their names and messages to the people they love, including Santa!  This exercise is an excellent way to encourage fine motor skills and practice printing. My youngest doesn’t yet print, but he’s happy to draw circles in each of the cards as his big brother signs his name. It’s an activity for all ages!  

3. LEGO Time!

If you’re like me, you have quite the stash of LEGO. Thankfully, many kids can spend hours creating and playing with it! LEGO has been the best screen-free activity for my family. We have a large toy box where we store it all and my sons can freely play, build, and allow their imagination to take over anytime they want. For younger kids who aren’t yet at the LEGO stage, DUPLO is an excellent alternative.

4. Create and Give a Gift

Give your kids an important assignment while you work. Ask them to create a surprise gift for someone special in their life (i.e., Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, daycare, a teacher, etc.) Draw a picture, cover a piece of construction paper with their favourite stickers, or create a fun holiday craft with inspiration from ideas on the Christmas Pinterest board!

5. Host a Playdate

Having more kids in your house might sound counterintuitive, but the distraction can be quite beneficial to you and them! My kids play nicely with a couple of neighbourhood friends. They enjoy making forts together, playing with their action figures or drawing pictures and it allows me to get a lot of work done (with requests for snack breaks in between!) Consider allowing your kids to have one friend over to help them beat any boredom blues!

There are several ways kids can enjoy independent play while you have a productive workday at home. Putting on a good movie is also a great distraction on those days when a solid hour or so of quiet is required! Otherwise, kids just want to have fun and often can find it with some encouragement from you and by using their imagination!

Caroline (Elisabeth) Pigott is a mom of two busy boys, Ben and Will. Working from home as a business coach and consultant to creative online service providers, she balances her day-to-day with both amazing clients and marketing projects and building blocks and park visits. You can find Caroline at or in her Facebook group!