As pre-school starts, so do the school holidays, the illnesses, and the snow days. Since most companies don't offer enough time off for you and your children, that means you'll be working from home and trying to manage the "I'm bored" contingency -- repeatedly.
If you're averse to a day of television or computer games for the littlest ones, a brand-new toy with lots of options and bells and whistles absolutely will do the trick. Here are five great options that should occupy your kids, at least long enough to jump on the conference call.
Cars, ramps, elevators, and traffic noise! Both of my kids raced away at least an hour at a time, coming back for more after they got tired of a lesser toy. That's my girl in the photo above, watching her race car speed down the ramp for the zillionth time, while I was writing this post.
I loved chutes and ladders as a kid, and my daughter is obsessed as well. It's an easy game that you don't have to know how to read to enjoy. A perfect intro to the world of board games, it's a multi-generational crowd pleaser when you get a break from your computer.
Even though I hate what Play-Doh does to the carpet, I love what it does to my kids. They can squish this around for hours. I just make sure to keep them at their art table or in the dining room so I'm not cursing at my rug hours later.
Every kid loves a tool bench, from the smallest to the slightly bigger. As long as you can take the hammer banging, this bench has a way of inspiring the little carpenter in all kids.
Art time! Painting and drawing projects will help your kids while away an afternoon, and have something adorable to show for it by the time you have dinner ready. This deluxe easel has everything you need: a tray, chalk board, dry erase board, big sheets of paper, and clips. Even the smallest kids can create a mini-masterpiece with this setup.
Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand 'n' Play Rampway ($48) -- Amazon
Chutes and Ladders ($10.48) -- Amazon
Play-Doh Creativity Center ($38.19) -- Amazon
Educo My Professional Workshop ($67.70) -- Amazon
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Standing Easel ($49.98) -- Amazon