Okay folks, a moment of honesty here: life with littles can be difficult! Getting things done around the house can be challenging when you have kids, especially if your kids: (a) have tough personalities (my son was NOT okay with being put down when he was a baby and would cry and cry and cry); (b) are sick or teething; (c) are going through a developmental phase; (d) just want to be held; (e) are hungry, tired or cranky; (f) want you to read them a story or play a game or… so, basically it’s difficult all the time. 😋 This is especially true if you don’t have family living close by to help out here and there (if you have family living nearby, consider yourself eternally blessed!). So here are a few tips and tricks I have learnt along the way, first with one and then with two littles. I would love to hear any others you have so please feel free to share below; the more tips the better!
Involve them. Toddlers, in particular, love getting involved and helping out. So let them! Does it mean things take longer and are generally messier? It sure does! But it also means the job gets done, and your littles get to feel valuable, learn new skills and spend time with you while doing it; that’s a win for everybody in my books. A toddler-friendly example is baking. My son loves to bake (especially if there are chocolate chips involved). So, I give him some measuring cups and spoons with a bowl, along with one of the ingredients and let him “measure” the ingredients for me. Once he tires of that (come now, you didn’t think that one trick was going to get you through all of your baking did you?! Ha!😋), I spread some flour out on the counter and let him drive his cars and trucks through the “snow”; afterwards his toys have a “car wash” in the sink! It’s incredibly messy but he always has such a blast and it gives us an opportunity to spend time together and talk (mostly about where his cars are driving, but hey, I will take what I can get!). Another example that is both baby and toddler friendly is folding laundry. To involve my toddler, I simply give him some clothing that he builds elaborate forts out of then “folds”; for my baby, it was about the different textures of the materials when she was younger (which I would run over her cheeks and let her explore), and it is now about the miniature fashion show that takes place while we fold (she insists on trying on almost every article of clothing while we fold laundry… #shegotitfromhermama). Plus, just think of the countless learning opportunities that littles get by helping with something like folding laundry (identifying colours, matching, sorting, grouping, learning about textures of materials, size differences, chore responsibility, the list goes on). At the end of the day, it takes a bit longer to get household jobs done when you involve your kids, but it certainly makes the process a lot more entertaining!
Bring them with you. Neither of my littles has particularly enjoyed spending time in their playpen, or any other sort of entertainment station (ex: Exersaucer) for that matter, as babies. Their typical response was to scream and scream and scream until you take them out. Once in a while they would tolerate them for brief periods of time, but never long enough to get anything meaningful done. So, rather than rushing through whatever I had to do as fast as possible with a baby screaming in the background, I opted for getting it done in peace and quiet (well, it used to be quiet but I have a toddler now so it is rarely quiet around here, but at least nobody is screaming… well, most of the time anyway – toddlers tend to be loud!😋). A good example here is that basic, yet blissful, daily activity you took for granted pre-kids… you know what I’m talking about. The “S” word. You know the one: a shower. That’s right, folks, I said it. You can still shower when you are home with littles, it just may not be as often and it definitely won’t be as relaxing as it once was! I have found that the easiest way to have a shower with littles around is to bring them in the bathroom with me or, even better, bring them in the shower with me (who actually wants to spend half of their shower sticking their head out of the shower curtain to check up on their kid(s)?). This option can definitely get a little cramped depending on the size of your shower, and it certainly isn’t relaxing, but it does allow you to get the job done! I usually bring in a bunch of toys for the kids to play with and we sing songs together while I shower. Just be careful to watch the temperature of your water and ensure you have enough non-slip mats down so nobody falls. Oh, and watch your step – I have stepped on many dinky cars doing this! Still totally worth it in my books. Every single time.
Wear them. This one may seem silly since you are in your own home, but baby wearing was a life saver for me with both of my littles (with my son simply because of his temperament and with my daughter because I was home with two kids and you just can’t expect a toddler to sit around all day while you hold, snuggle and feed the baby!). There are also all those added benefits of skin to skin contact you get by wearing baby (often I would just wear a light tank top or sports style bra so baby could be directly against my skin in the carrier, and throw one of my husband’s oversized sweatshirts on top of both of us to stay warm). Plus, wearing baby means you get to enjoy even more baby snuggles (and who doesn’t looooove baby snuggles?!). I highly recommend this wrap when your little one is small (I used it until about the 7 month mark); as baby gets bigger, a ring sling or the Ergo (I have this one) are great options!
Capitalize on naps. This option works better with some kids than others. Neither of my littles have been great nappers (my son would only nap either on me or on the go until he was just over a year old and my daughter could sometimes be put down, but always did much better if she was in her carrier on me, until she was about 10 months old). This option can also be tricky when you have more than one child if their naps don’t line up. If, however, you are one of those blissfully lucky parents whose little(s) will nap independently and at the same time (if you have more than one child), then read on! Now that my daughter is older and naps more independently most of the time, I try to organize any overlapping nap time activities on a priority basis: get through the “must-do’s” (prep dinner food, dishes, tidy up, etc.), and once that is done, if time permits, tackle one of the “nice to-do’s” (organize craft supplies in the toy room, set up an afternoon activity, etc.), then relax! I always try to get the most important things done first, bearing in mind that if it doesn’t get done, it’s perfectly okay. After all, it is possible to do these things when the kids are awake, and the kids can often help with most of them (both of my littles, especially my toddler, love helping in the kitchen, with dinner prep, unloading the dishwasher, etc.). Things just tend to go infinitely faster when you aren’t doing them with littles around, so I try to capitalize on this time whenever possible. Now if you are a mom to a newborn, especially if you are a first-time mom, you can go ahead and just ignore all of that. You ignore those dishes, mama, and get as much down time in as you can while that baby is sleeping!
Be flexible. Flexibility = survival as a parent. I mean it, folks. Thinking outside the box and being flexible make parenting (no easy job) a little bit easier. Life happens. There will be days when your littles won’t nap, when schedules are thrown off for one of a million reasons, when (heaven forbid) you don’t feel well and just can’t “mom” (or “dad”) as hard as you do other days, and so on. On those days, you do what you have to do to get through! This might mean that not all of the household tasks will get done that day; I’m willing to bet most of them can wait until tomorrow anyhow. Or it might mean you need to figure out alternative ways of getting some things done. I have found that having special activities, reserved for times when my kids are cranky, sick or tired, or I’m not feeling well, really helps. In particular, I have a number of “busy bags” put together (each of which contains a different activity or toy that they don’t get to play with regularly) for these kind of days that my littles can pick from to play with while I get that “must-do” chore done or if I am sick and need a “mom break”. Since these items are novel, they usually get a bit more focused time out of the kids (admittedly, these work better with my toddler, but I find I can do almost anything with my baby in my arms anyhow because, well because I’m a mama and that’s what mamas do!😋). Recently I also discovered online grocery shopping and, I have to admit, it is fantastic! I haven’t gone so far as to have groceries delivered to our house yet (I would love to hear from you if you use this service as I am very interested!), but I have done the grocery shopping online in lieu of going to the grocery store and then gone out to pick them up (or asked my husband to pick them up on his way home). It is infinitely easier than grocery shopping in the store with littles who haven’t napped and think the world is ending when you choose the “wrong” apple. In short, being flexible and changing up your routine or finding alternative ways to get things done really helps!
Do you have any tips or tricks to add to the list above? I would love to hear them; please share below!