As a work from home mom, I know how hard it can be to get work accomplished while entertaining kids. Most of the time, I work while a babysitter watches my kids or while my kids are asleep. However, given the 24/7 nature of being an entrepreneur, it’s just not always possible to complete all my work when I’m not with my kids. Sometimes, I have to write or answer emails when they’re sitting right next to me.

Of course, if you’ve ever had a toddler, you know that this can be incredibly challenging. Here are some ideas I’ve used personally for entertaining kids while I work from home so I can spend time with them but get my work finished too.

Have Them Sit With You

Sometimes, it’s not that my kids want me to dance with them or interact heavily with them; they just want to be with me. So, sometimes I’ll set up an activity for them to do next to me at the kitchen table. I sit with my computer, and I’ll give them some paper and crayons to play with. Sometimes I bring them a book, and sometimes none of that works and one of them ends up sitting on my lap while I type. It’s not a perfect situation but when push comes to shove and you have to work, letting them be close to you is all they really want.

Keep Special Toys for Your Work Time

Another idea is to purchase a toy to give them to play with specifically when you need to work. This would be a toy that they don’t normally have out. You could even get them a small toy laptop to mimic you while you work. I’ve seen many of these toys that teach valuable skills like the alphabet and sight words to children as young as three years old.

Because they won’t be used to playing with whatever toy you choose, this will be an exciting time for them and it will keep them occupied more so than handing them a bag full of legos that they play with every single day.

The Almighty TV

All parents know this trick, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning, mostly because I don’t want parents to feel guilty for putting their kids in front of the TV. If you have to work, you have to work, and sometimes putting your kids in front of a movie is the only way to really focus on what you have to do. Research shows that when you switch between tasks, your productivity drops, so if having your kids watch a movie  for an hour means you can get your work done and have the rest of the day to enjoy your kids, then by all means go for it.

Although these tips might not be the best case scenario or what we’d hope our kids do while we work, the truth is that it’s extremely hard to work from home while you have children. You’re not a bad parent if your kids watch a movie or play with a new toy while you work; you’re just a parent trying to do their work. It’s hard to find balance, but with the tips above, it’s definitely more achievable.

Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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