SET UP INDEPENDENT PLAY
This hack takes a bit of prep, but it’s worthwhile if you need to work while your kids are awake. O’Driscoll, whose kids are now 15 and 18, says she used to make scavenger hunt lists to keep her children entertained. “I’d have them show me the results when they were done — find something red, something smaller than your thumb, something that rattles, something soft and fuzzy, something that starts with the letter B, and so on,” she says.
Art projects are another big win, says Mariah McCourt, 39, whose daughter is 3. “I do a ton of prep work at the beginning of each week, cutting out paper shapes, coming up with project ideas and setting up activity stations,” she says. “I made my daughter a felt gardenthat she can ‘plant,’ and the arts and crafts table is always full of stuff to do.”
HIT THE GYM
Find a fitness facility in your area that also offers child care, and you’ll sweat and work at the same time. (Or, even just sit somewhere and work.) “I get reading done while exercising and have even done phone interviews there,” says mom-of-two and travel writer and photographer, Katherine Martinelli, 34.
DEPLOY SCREEN TIME
Kids and TV can be a fraught topic, but for those of us balancing work and child care, it’s often a necessity. Putting on a beloved movie or educational show (hello, Sesame Street!) so you can meet a deadline, get some space to think through a critical work problem or answer a pressing email, isn’t something to feel bad about. When you need to, grab the remote and get whatever it is that needs to be done, done.