Brilliantly Easy Ways to Engage Your Kids (While You Try To Work!)

April 21, 2020

If you’re a “working parent,” chances are the current reality finds you oscillating pretty quickly between unfettered optimism and a crushing sense of overwhelm. Some days are great! Math lesson complete? [check]  Zoom meeting led without any unexpected visitors? [check] Door knobs and light switches wiped down before bed? [check] But, on other days, “the parents are not all right.” 

To get us through this, our team has found that sharing our small parenting victories makes us feel good and inspires us to keep trying. We have a lot of brilliant babies on our team, ranging from infants to pre-teens, and we swap successes (and cute kid pics) nearly every day. 

Here are a few of our favorite ways to engage our kids through listening, learning, and fun. They’re easy to execute, require little prep with big reward and, most importantly, make us feel like damn good parents (for at least a minute or two). ;-) 



My kids love when I read aloud – and I love doing it! But you know what’s even better than me reading? Having Oprah, Sarah Silverman or Kristen Bell read a story. Storyline Online has a bunch of awesome books read by famous people.

You can use it for a babysitter while you make yourself a cup of coffee... or you can snuggle up and live out your fantasy of having Betty White for a grandma. 


We often listen to podcasts when we’re in the car, and turning them on at home keeps the fighting at bay for a bit. Here are a few of our favorites (all available on Apple podcasts):

  • Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest: Retelling of Grimm’s fairytales to an elementary-aged class. Warning, this is not the Disney version of these fairytales, and they can be a tiny bit scary. 
  • Pants on Fire: Two people who both claim to be “experts” on a particular topic (ex. weather, chocolate, horses) answer questions posed by a child trying to determine who’s the expert and who’s the liar.
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: A crew of kid space-explorers goes on adventures through the galaxy. There are 7 seasons, so this one is great for binge-listening.  
  • Young Ben Franklin: This one is legit! It’s a fictional podcast about what Ben Franklin would have been like as a kid -- there’s history, there’s treasure, there’s romance. I couldn’t wait to hear what was going to happen next!



We’ve played this fun trivia game called Kahoot that turns your living room into a game show and had a blast. We are even trying it with friends online this weekend!


Kids have LOTS of questions. (“What happens when the world ends?” Yikes.) These little science videos provide excellent answers, and I feel a bit smarter after watching.

PBSKids also has a variety of educational shows that are supplementing our “science curriculum” at home. From Sid the Science Kid to SciGirls, they seem to have a show for every age group. 

Current Events

Time for Kids provides an age-appropriate weekly summary of current events that puts everything into perspective. They’re currently offering their digital library for free for the remainder of the school year


The Under 3’s

BusyToddler.com pops up on lots of resource lists, and we’ve found these activities VERY successful for the under-3s:

Oldies but Goodies

A lot of the items for these activities could already be lying around your house. Grab and go!

  • Fort building. They used to use all my pillows and blankets (which worked, but drove me crazy) until Santa bought them this kit for Christmas.
  • Solo Cup Stack (patent pending ;-) ) – Give kids solo cups. Have them stack them up as high as possible. Let destructive little sibling knock them down. Repeat. 
  • Obstacle courses in the house and outside. Set up is fun, and joining them in a run through the course is good for parents, too!
  • If you have some extra streamers around, tape them to the walls and then go through it like a maze.

Alexa, Let’s Play A Game!

Just when you thought Alexa couldn’t get any better, she now can occupy children! There are a bunch of skills you can add to Alexa (all for free):

  • Freeze Dance: Dance Party +
  • Hide & Go Seek: The kids hide and Alexa has three chances to guess where they are.
  • Would You Rather:  Hair for Teeth or Teeth for Hair? Cuddle a Walrus or Tickle an Elephant? So many thought-provoking questions.
  • The Magic Door: A “choose your own adventure” story! It’s geared towards slightly older kids as you make choices to solve the puzzle in the story, but kids just like getting to choose what happens next.
  • Kids Quiz: Like Jeopardy for kids! There are three questions of the day, and it is a FIERCE competition.  |


No matter how much we have to juggle or feel like we’re failing at all the things, our kids will have memories of getting to spend this extended amount of time together as a family. And that’s a success in my book.

Want more bite-sized brilliance? Be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and let’s connect on LinkedIn and Twitter!


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