When my kids were little there was one thing I coveted more than anything. 5, just 5, minutes of time to do something ALONE. As a mom with 2 kids, a new business and a life it was so hard to get my kids engaged in independent play so that I could accomplish anything. Here are 3 things that worked for me.... well most of the time. Ha.
I wish I had Imagination Starters when my kids were really little. In fact, the search for something to get them at the table and engaged without ME was one of the reasons I created our chalkboard placemats.
Kids love the different nature of the chalkboard coloring mat. There is just something about coloring on black versus a white paper that makes kids more dialed in. Also, there are a good number of kids that love wiping off the mat just as much as coloring.
2. Make the play dough
In Michigan we get snow days. Which are awesome and also really hard when as a mom you still need to work from home. I started a tradition where every snowday I would make a fresh batch of drink scented play dough. I would throw a chalkboard runner (early version of our product) on the table and 2 scents of dough and let them go wild. I know you won't believe this but it gave me at least 1 hour of time to get my workday started. Here's the link to the recipe I used.
3. Time block
My kids both had a tough time with wanting to ALWAYS be on a device or watching a screen. Jack especially had a tough time and transitions away from it were the worst. I started time blocking with my kids and it helped make it a little easier. Here's how I did it:
I would start them off with an activity that they really wanted but I wanted to limit. So "you have 15 minutes to play MineCraft" or whatever the time and activity is.
At the end of the first block, I would say "Now you are going to the playroom and do 1 puzzle". Tell me when you're done and we can choose another activity.
Most of the time they would assert themselves and choose a different play activity but that's the whole point. They felt empowered to choose for themselves and it became "their" activity.
This had a success rate of about 50% but heck it was better than feeling like they just sat like zombies in front of the devices all day.
Being a mom is the toughest and best job in the world. No matter what you do today for them, your love, attention and care is enough. You are doing a great job, mom.