As people in every industry adapt to a new way of working and living, working parents are grappling with their own particular dilemma. With the kids at home and meetings conducted via Zoom or Google Hangouts, how exactly is anything supposed to get done? 

According to a Thrive Global survey of 5,000 respondents about coronavirus pain points, over 70% worry that they won’t be able to focus as much as usual and 80% wish they knew more small, actionable ways to remain focused and productive while working from home. For parents, the challenge is even steeper. Perhaps more than ever, working parents are looking for creative ways to responsibly occupy their kids so they — the parents — can be fully present on calls.

Instead of hiding in a closet or creating an elaborate plan to escape your children, one helpful approach is to simply help your child understand when you’re available. This could be a designated room, a colorful sign you make together, or an open/closed door that helps them understand when you’re working and when you’re not. 

You can also make it fun by setting up an educational “meeting” for your kids. There are a number of free resources for parents from museum tours to art classes that you can stream during meetings to keep your kids entertained, but also learn something new.  

Try out one of these activities the next time you have a conference call. One upside of our new normal is that more and more cultural institutions and creative individuals are making their content free and available online — which means more opportunities to keep your kids engaged throughout the day.  

Circle Round: This free podcast from WBUR offers folktales from around the world, “Mystery Recipe” trivia, and celebrity readers.  

Lunch Doodle: Beloved author and illustrator Mo Willems opens up his studio every day for a fun drawing and writing session. Pick up some paper, pencils, and crayons and your kids can get creative! New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. E.T. Each daily episode is accompanied by a downloadable activity page. 

Scholastic Learn at Home: From pre-K to 9th grade, Scholastic is offering day-by-day projects to keep kids reading and learning. Your kids will watch videos, read books, draw, write and sing!  

Stories Podcast: Fun classic children’s stories that range from 15-25 minutes.

Virtual Zoo Tours: From the San Diego Zoo to the Houston Zoo, there are over 30 virtual field trips your kids can go on and explore wildlife from the living room. They can get inspired and make lists of all their favorites to share with you after your call. 

Molly of Denalil — This podcast features Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl growing up with her parents, family and friends. Over eight episodes, Molly and her friend Tooey discover the identity of a mystery creature that has stolen Molly’s birthday cake.

Pretend Office: For your littlest ones, set up a fake keyboard or phone next to your desk so that your child can mimic (quietly) what you’re doing and feel like they’re working too. Give them assignments like coloring or writing. 

Origami: This is an activity that will help your child stay quiet as they also learn fine motor skills. Show them how to create something before your call and ask them to make a few while you are on. All you need are sheets of colorful paper and the instructions. YouTube has a lot of tutorials or you can find a few fun projects here

Story Pirates: This Gimlet Media podcast is written by kids, and the stories are woven into a narrative about a musical-theater company’s magical misadventures. Featuring Claire Danes, John Oliver, Dax Shepard, and other celebs . 

Calm Kids Podcast: Soothing stories, written and recorded by sisters Lucie and Charlotte, designed to help kids fall asleep. 

But Why?: In an ask anything format, kids ask questions about nature, words and even the end of the world. Hosted by public radio personality Jane Lindholm.

Time for Kids: Time Magazine‘s digital subscriptions are great for elementary and middle school students. There are vocab words, quizzes and age-appropriate stories kids can get excited about. 

Earth Rangers: In this podcast, Ranger Emma, a wildlife biologist, takes you around the jungle, frozen Arctic and wetlands teaching you about animals and science along the way.  

BroadwayHD: The theater-streaming service is allowing people to watch performances from Broadway and the West End for free. It’s currently offering a seven-day free trial. Musicals, plays, and ballets are all available. Great for kids and adults alike! 

California Science Center: Every weekday at 10 a.m. P.D.T., the California Science Center is live-streaming “Stuck at Home Science,” a new video series of science activities.

Teachable Moments: NASA launched Teachable Moments, connecting classrooms — and homes — with resources for investigating the latest discoveries about our universe. There are a range of activities and lessons suitable for grades K-12.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Activities: Rocketry 101, space shuttle tours, astronaut training, and living on Mars! Educators share daily Facebook Live videos that pair with hands-on activities (instructions are available as free downloads).

Creative Writing: Children in grades 3 to 12 can learn to write their names in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, in this step-by-step guide from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

Working From Home in the New Normal is a data-driven storytelling initiative from SAP and Thrive Global, bringing together insights powered by the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse with actionable Microsteps and stories from Thrive to help you navigate working from home. Visit daily for the latest data and stories to help improve your focus, prioritization, and well-being.


  • Lindsey Benoit O'Connell

    Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships at Thrive

    Lindsey Benoit O'Connell is Thrive's Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships. Prior to working at Thrive, she was the Entertainment + Special Projects Director for Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman's Day booking the talent for covers and inside features. O'Connell currently lives in Astoria, NY with her husband Brian and adorable son, Hunter Fitz.