It isn't ideal for anyone, not for you or your coworkers, and especially not for your children. There are times however when you have an emergency and you need to bring your kids into the office. It could be an hour or two, or even half a day. Regardless of the why and when, it now falls on you to make sure they are quietly entertained so that you and your colleagues can get some work done.
What you need is an activity that will entertain them for more than a couple of minutes, so unless your child loves drawing, appeasing them with pen and paper is probably not going to keep them occupied for long. Here are a few ideas to check out the next time you run into an emergency and
Set up your laptop or a spare work computer in a quiet corner where you can see your children. There are a number of great websites, some of which are free, that have activities to keep your child occupied for hours. Here are three sites without any questionable content so you can concentrate on your work, instead of what your kids are doing.
PBS Kids Website
Here your child can pick from their favorite television shows, such as Curious George, Caillou, Arthur and The Cat in the Hat. Each show has its own games menu, a printing page with activities such as coloring pages, connect the dots and paper crafts. The website is extremely easy to navigate, so you can leave to your kids to handle most of it on their own. Best of all, it is PBS so the content has an educational theme running underneath every page. Head to pbskids.org to check it out.
I think you will be hard-pressed to find a parent in the United States who doesn't know about Webkinz, however if you live in the rest of the world, you may not. Your child can adopt a virtual pet, which needs feeding and sometimes go to the doctor. There are also clothes to buy and rooms to decorate. You earn money by playing games and answering trivia questions. This website isn't free, but you get a one year membership when you adopt a pet for under $15. This is a real hit with kids (and sometimes even their parents). Go to www.webkinz.com to check it out.
Make a Flake
Whether it is winter, or you are just dreaming of it, this website allows your child to cut out as many snowflakes as they like without making a mess. The website folds the paper for you as you guide the scissors over the folded edges to make millions of designs. Once each snowflake is complete, you have options to save or even email your creations. Click here to head to Make a Flake.
Movies, Television Shows and Books
It takes a bit of lead time and forethought to do these activities for free at the office. However, sometimes the bit of money you may need to spend will really help with alleviating the stress of having your kids in the office.
Watch a DVD
Grab a couple of your child's favorite DVDs and a portable DVD player if you have one. If you don't, it looks like it is on that trusty computer again. Set your children up in a corner with the movies. Because movie watching is less involved than game playing, you may have to bribe your children to sit still longer. A good idea is to offer to buy a DVD on the way home if they can sit still during one or two whole movies at the office.
Stream Television from Amazon
If you live in the United States and you have access to a spare computer at work, you can rent or buy movies for instant watching from Amazon. Click here to head straight to a choice for kids and family movies and shows. Rental fees are generally $2-3, where as you can buy the digital rights for around $10-15 a movie. Amazon Prime members get a variety of movies and shows they can stream completely free.
Read a Book
If your child is old enough to immerse himself in a story, you can always buy a digital book from Amazon (as well as other websites). You don't need a Kindle or a Nook, but you will need to download the relevant software from the seller's website. This is generally free. You can also find free eBooks online, however often these are classics and educational materials that your child may have a difficult time getting into, especially with all the distractions an office presents.
The Old Fashioned Way
Of course, if this was a complete emergency and you don't have anything on hand, nor does your work have a spare computer, you can always resort to these ideas which need almost no technology at all.
Employ Your Child
It may not need doing, but you can always offer to pay your child to help with filling, picking papers up from the printer, or reorganising the stationary cupboard. It isn't easy to get a kid to want to help with these mundane tasks, but the offer of money, usually does the trick. You may also want to bribe them with a special dinner or dessert as well.
Make a Wish List
If nothing else works, have them write or draw a wish list of all the things they could be doing if they weren't stuck at your office. Make them get to a hundred better things to do with their time. Or tell them you will try to do at least one of these things with them on the weekend.
Most of all, just relax. If you must be in the office and you need to have your kids with you for an afternoon, then it is what you need to do. Don't let your children or your colleagues stress you out, this is just part of your life and with any luck you won't have to go through it all again anytime soon.