Looking for easy ways to combine your office and playroom? Work from home near your kids with these foolproof tips: Move your desk into a central location, set up a play area that changes for each age group, invest in baby gates and baby monitors no matter what age your kids are, and make a safe space for your kids play.
Raise your hand if you have a young child – and you work from home – and your house is feeling smaller and smaller by the minute.
Yep, me too.
Because I work from home, I am constantly looking for ways to combine my office and playroom. I love for my kids to work independently, but I also need to be able to monitor them all the time.
How do I do this? Here are my life-changing tips for combining your office and play area and create a safe space for your kids.
Move your desk to a central location
In each of my houses I have moved my desk to a central location.
In my old house, my desk was actually in my living room. I had room to push my desk near the wall opposite my sofa. And this gave me a lot of space to work and be near my daughter.
Now in my new house, my desk is in our upstairs loft that is between our bedrooms. There is enough room to fit my desk, a small sofa, and a fenced in play area for my baby (see how to set this up below!).
You guys want full disclosure? You got it.
This is my current set up:
You can see our handy jumparoo that I use for my babies when they are between 4-12 months old.
Also, my daughter is playing with our collection of KiwiCo play activities that we keep every month for her to rotate through. Check out KiwiCo here for your kid!
This is a very raw image of what my work station looks like.
But, if you keep a play area near your desk, you will always have options for working while watching your kids.
Set up a play area that changes for each age group
When I first started planning my office area in my old living room, I knew I needed a foam floor mat to cover our hardwood floors.
But, if you have checked Amazon lately, they can be almost $100! Those pretty jigsaw foam play mats were just not worth it to me.
I mentioned this to my husband, and he promptly said, “You can get those for your tool shed super cheap!” And he was RIGHT.
Amazon has an AWESOME set of 4-6 foam panels that it together perfectly for this! This is what I put on the ground under the play area and it is perfect for hardwoods!
You can get cool options on Amazon here. Such a great idea!
On top of the foam mat, we have a rotating quilt for the baby to play on. One of our favorites is this LEKA Play Mat from IKEA. It’s a little more pricey ($24.99), but is padded under the mat, and we take it EVERYWHERE. The value of it totally merits the price in my opinion, but it’s always worth checking for an IKEA discount just in case you can knock a couple bucks off.
It is also perfect for trips and visits to people’s houses when we just need a place for my baby to play. Check out all my other favorite IKEA must-haves here.)
With a newborn, I only need this foam area and some toys for the baby to roll aound on. Before a baby can crawl, I know I can go to the kitchen and empty the dishwasher, and the baby couldn’t get into any trouble. It is a marvelous arrangement!
This is my old desk arrangement:
But once my babies can begin to crawl, I use a different arrangement that I love just as much.
I set up this 8-piece baby fence from Amazon and it fits the square play area perfectly.
My babies love playing in here – and I make an effort to rotate toys so they are constantly stimulated. I call it “baby jail”, but it is much larger than a Pack ‘N Play, which is another great way to let kids play independently. So, it’s actually larger than some options.
Just for the record, I don’t use this in any way to neglect my child. She is never in there for more than 30-40 minutes at a time, and never against her will crying. I am blessed with a very content child that is happy playing right next to her Mama.
This play area is an awesome way to keep your mobile child nearby – teach them independent play – while still getting your work done.
This is the same baby fence in my upstairs loft office:
If you have a child under the ages of 2, I definitely recommend getting this baby fence. It is a game changer.
Invest in baby gates and baby monitors
Two other things you definitely need if you are going to combine your office and playroom, are a baby monitor and extra baby gates.
Let’s talk about baby gates because I already introduced you to my favorite baby fence.
Besides blocking off a play area near your desk with a baby fence, I definitely recommend adding additional baby gates throughout your home.
Yes, I know they are tacky. But they work.
I always set up a baby gate on my young child’s bedroom door. This gives a second play area that I can trust my baby to play in.
This is my favorite baby gate that is safe, cheap, and works for years.
I am a huge fan of teaching your kids to play independently, and this is my greatest tool for that.
I set up this gate as soon as I want to begin teaching my child. Around 6 months old (yes, even before they can even sit up!), I put them in their room with some toys, and leave them to “play” for maybe 10 minutes. I repeat this every day and build more time.
By the time my babies are around 1 year old, they are able to play by themselves for 30-40 minutes. By the time she was 2 years old, my daughter was able to play by herself for up to 2 hours.
Again, I am right next to my kids this whole process. I check on them, watch them in the baby monitor, and encourage them with new toys. But, the practice of teaching them to play by themselves is invaluable.
Another way I use the baby gates is to separate small babies for older kid play.
Very often my daughter needs a barrier between her and the baby. Adding a baby gate to her door accomplishes this. This is an excellent way of separating kids, giving them places to play – while being right next to my desk.
(To see all my favorite work at home mom resources – including my favorite earbuds, see my work at home mom resource guide here.)
Another invaluable tool is a baby monitor. Let me tell you why you need one.
Even if you don’t have a baby, watching your kids safely play – while you are in a different room – is invaluable.
I have our monitor set up in my son’s room, and often put both kids in there to play. I watch them from down the hall, and love being able to see their play.
If you have toddlers in a separate room, this is an excellent way to keep an eye on them.
Also – a fun game to keep them occupied is to play Simon’s Says through the monitor. It’s great entertainment that let’s you work and “play” with your kids.
This is my favorite baby monitor:
Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
I researched baby monitors for about 8 months. No joke. I had dozens of lists and tabs open.
What was I researching? Physical monitor vs. phone app? Wireless vs. not wired?
We finally settled on the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor because of the 35,000 5 ⭐️ Reviews on Amazon. It is definitely the highest-rated monitor on Amazon.
And – we LOVE it!
✅ Because I can keep it on all night without using my phone battery.
✅ Because it has a HUGE range.
✅ Because it is SO SIMPLE to set up and use.
✅ Because I can pass it to my mother-in-law and not need to set up an app for her.
✅ Because it has dark night vision.
✅ Because it zooms in and can pan the room.
If you want to make a safe space for your kids, I highly recommend getting multiple baby gates and monitors.
(To see a super stylish home office + play area, check out this awesome post here!)
Make a safe space for your kids play
The goal is to have a safe space for your kids to play – near where you work.
This is often accomplished by just making a few adjustments to make your living area (and combined office/play area) functional for both needs.
Please let me know how you set up your office and play area! I’d love to hear your favorite tips.