Fact: it’s a challenge to get things done with a toddler underfoot. Whether your trying to do housework or you are working from home it doesn’t take much time to realize that being a parent causes all tasks to be accomplished at a much slower rate.
Now that I have two kiddos I’ve learned several tricks to increase my productivity during the day. I’m still no expert, and there are many times when you will find my house an absolute wreck because the kiddos needed some extra attention or I decided to rest for half an hour. That being said, here are 7 ways I’ve found that can help you accomplish things with a little one running (or crawling) around.
- Involve them – When possible, I try to include the kids in what I’m doing. My 2 year old loves throwing clothes in the washer or pulling them out of the dryer as I fold, so he’s able to “help” in those ways. I’ve actually made a whole list of chores my son can help with, even at his young age!
- Closet toys – This little bit of mommy-magic has made my life so much easier over the years! I hide a collection of toys in our hall closet and bring one or two out when I need a moment’s peace or some time to get things done! Pulling out a hidden toy can be the perfect distraction for when you need to clean or cook and can’t have the kids helping.
- Plan – Work around your child’s schedule. Figure out what the baby’s happiest time of day is, and try to get your work done then. Maybe he’s most content first thing in the morning, or right after nap, whenever it may be, plan to do your work during these hours because the baby will be most likely to happily play by himself if he’s not already tired or cranky.
- Dance and sing – Yes, it’s exhausting and you will look crazy, but it’s one way to entertain the babies and get things done at the same time! March like dinosaurs as you put the laundry away sing the ABCs while you wash the bathtub, whatever it takes to keep them laughing!!!
- Don’t stress – This is a big one! Realize that it’s okay if you don’t get everything on your list done this hour or this day even! Some days kiddos need extra attention, as much as it may frustrate your cleaning schedule, it’s okay to stop and give them that at the expense of your housework sometimes. I’ve found that when I’m calm and willing to take breaks to crawl on the floor and play for awhile we all get through the day much happier and most of the time, I end up getting more things done because of it! Mama’s mood can make all the difference in the way a day plays out.
- Swap work days with another mom – Choose days of the week to swap out with a friend. Offer to watch their kids for a few hours on a one morning so they can get some deep cleaning done, in exchange for them watching your kiddos a few days later so you can do the same! This is the perfect way to get some organizing done so the kids can’t get into everything or do some intense cleaning with chemicals you don’t want the kids touching.
- Set a time limit – Give yourself 15-30 minute time limit and see how much you can get done. You could do this repeatedly throughout the day, reading books or playing small games with the kids between each set of work. This way, the kids feel like you are playing with them all day AND you will be able to get a lot of work done!
What are your best tips for getting work around the house done with little ones underfoot? I’m always looking for more ideas!
Special toys is such a great idea! I rotate our toys and it’s amazing how long a toy can entertain my boys when they haven’t seen it in awhile. :-)
I find that involving them as much as possible is a great idea, too! I have a two year old, and she loves, loves, LOVES to help me clean. We bought her a “play” broom & vacuum. So, never fear… when I am cleaning floors, she’s right there! haha! Great tips!
Heya, great tips! I have an almost 4 and almost 1 year old. My almost 1 yr old is happiest in the morning, once fed :-) but my 4 year old… well… she is completely unpredictable so, cant really work around her. Just have to wing it. She LOVES getting involved in the kitchen if there are sweets, or stirring, or measuring involved, which helps alot. But most other chores shes not interested in hahaha. She was when she was 2 though. She loved helping then. I keep her busy with paint, or activities that need her concentration. So, while she makes a small mess, in one place, im cleaning up another one… surprisingly, it still allows me to get more done. I do take breaks to play with her. but while im busy doing jobs like vacuuming, mopping or dusting, shes busy getting creative. She likes helping with “big” jobs like cleaning out the pantry or rotating the wardrobes around from summer to winter, because it makes a mess before it gets tidy, she likes to potter around and check out each item being pulled out haha.
Absolutely! I do nearly all of these on a regular basis (all but swapping work days). Today, I pulled Legos out of the closet and even the baby had a blast exploring them while I got some laundry folded. And teaching your toddlers how to help now will really pay off when they get older. My 4 year old loves nothing more than to fold clothes with mommy, set the table, and put water in glasses at dinner time. She feels so special when she gets to help.
Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids says
I need to do the toy thing! We have so many toys and if I just rotated toys some I know our toy room would stay cleaner and I could benefit from time to time bringing out something new as a distraction.
My toddler is a big helper. When he turned two I created a “Can Do Chore Chart” for him. Friends and family thought I was crazy creating a chore chart for someone so young but in reality it is more of a tool for me to remind myself what my toddler can all do and help with. The biggest thing he enjoys is helping with his baby sister (at least most of the time…).
Keri @ Growing in His Glory says
I really like the closet toys idea. I give my kids room time: the baby plays in her crib with a few toys and older girls play in their rooms while mommy cleans. However, when it’s something they can do with me, I involve them.
Great post! Thanks for your tips.
This caught my attention at the Happy Home Family Fun Friday link up because I have an almost two year old underfoot right now :) Fortunately, his older brothers are great at helping keep him busy when they can! PS-I love your theme/design! I like the ribbons up top with your social buttons :)
So helpful! I have a 2 year old that seems to want my attention 24/7 when we are at home. I also allow my son to “help” me so I am able to get things done. I even bought him a little fake vacuum so he could pretend as well:) I think of it as “training for his soon to be, long down the road, wife” :)
I really really like this. Going to have to try all of these! Great ideas and great mommy! :)
I think we were destined to be friends. Every week when I link up posts from my blog, Mommynificent, I scan through all the other posts and click any that interest me. I’ve ended up at your site 6 times in the last week! You are really doing great work here. Thank you for sharing so much!
May you be magnificently blessed today!
Tina @ Mommynificent
Your ideas are great. Here are a couple other ideas that I use:
Often my most productive time is during breakfast. I eat mine quickly and the toddlers take longer. Our two year old and most curios child sits in a booster chair with a tray and can’t get up until I help him. I work, he eats, the older kids finish their chores and eat. Usually he’s happy there for an hour or a little more. Since I’ve been doing this since he was very young he doesn’t realize it could be anything different. If he finishes eating quickly I may give him a small toy of a paper and a crayon/pencil to help him keep busy.
Sometimes if I’m really feeling the burden to clean I put him in the pack and play with 2-3 toys or books and put a movie or show on that he likes. This way I can usually have 30-60 minutes to work.
I’ve often told my kiddos “Make it fun, and it will get done!” You have some tremendous points here! I especially like point 5 – don’t stress! As an older Mom, I can look back now and say that I don’t remember the dirt as much as I remember enjoying my little kids…and that’s the way I want it to be.
Thanks for the great post!
Great tips, Paula! I could use plenty of productivity tips since I stay at home most of the day with my almost 2 year-old daughter who LOVES having my complete attention at all times. She is great at “helping” with laundry sorting and throwing away trash and we’ve definitely sang plenty of songs to get chores done. Closet toys? Brilliant! I’d love for you to join me this Thurs. sharing this post at the Mommy-Brain Mixer. I know my readers will love it too!
Really great tips! I like the time increment one, I will try that :)
Alexis @ We Like to Learn as We Go says
These are great tips! I feel like I am finally learning how to accomplish things with my two small girls. Nap time helps a lot. :-) I’m featuring this at my link party tonight!
Judith at WholeHearted Home says
Great tips Paula!! You are real too which is a big plus. I am linked next to you over at The Better Mom.
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents says
Yes, yes, yes to the closet toys!!! :-) Visiting from Serenity Saturday.
Thanks for this! was just telling my hubs tonight how I can’t get anything done, while HE gets tons done! It’s because our 2YO is always wanting ME to hold her, play with her, etc. Not a burden…I just have to keep the household going, and her being underfoot makes that nearly impossible! This will help me handle it better.
I take my 2 year old either to the play center at the YMCA or the library while my wife cleans! It’s good to be a mom with a wife :D
That’s so awesome! :) My husband doesn’t work anymore, so we joke that I have a “house husband” now and it is WONDERFUL ;)
My son is similar unpredictable loves to help with the little detail things that make him feel like he’s the boss because course he’s the boss of everyone. Even mommy, at least I think so. Lol shhhh! But he doesn’t know make him happy would make me happy. My favorite part is when we’re taking things out of where they are to then organized and put them back every 10-20 minutes you’ll hear him say: ‘W-ait! No no no mommy, this way.see?’ and he looks around, trying to find what else he thinks should be don, fixes it and simply says ` okay now we’re good.. Now you Keep going’.
My little bossy boy