Anyone who has a toddler will know how impossible it is to get almost anything done without it being undone right behind you, or having to stop what you are doing because you notice said toddler dancing on the dining room table and you have to rescue him (not that I know for experience…)
So as I am currently waist deep in this situation I thought I’d share what I do to keep my house live-able and my work done, and invite any advice my dear readers have.
It would be really nice to simply say, ‘do things while your child has a nap’, but unfortunately that is only a few hours a day (unless they’re sick or teething and then it’s none) and so that’s not going to give you enough time to get everything done. So my first piece of advice is- distraction. Give them something cool to do next to you while you do what ever it is you need to do. A tissue box or wipes container filled with tissues, fabric scraps or ribbon will be a hit and can be used over and over again- especially if you change what’s in there from time to time. Another winner is handing over a noisy toy. I found a cheap $2 phone that lights up and plays music and a small, noisy mini keyboard that are fantastic for distracting Charlie- they only get pulled out when I absolutely need them, so they are always new and interesting.
Now this next idea sounds bad- but it’s really not- it’s isolation. By that I do not mean isolate your toddler, but isolate yourself. My Mum loves to remind me she used to iron and sew in a playpen, while my brother and I ran around (and probably destroyed the house), it’s a fantastic idea- and one I’ve tried with success. While when they are smaller it’s easy to put your baby in a playpen so their big siblings can’t accidentally hurt them while you are busy, I found as they got bigger my kids got quite upset as they recognised they were separated from the rest of the house and had no freedom. When you reverse the situation they still have plenty of freedom to get up to mischief and roam the house, but you have space to do what you need to do without small hands ‘helping’.
Charlies favorite thing to do is to ‘help’, so I will often, where ever possible, try to include him and make him a part of whatever I am doing. This is probably not going to work as well if you are cooking (though a plastic knife and some banana will keep him happy in his highchair next to me for a while), but when I am sorting washing, or even writing a list I will try to let him get involved. He does really well when I hand him something and get him to do a repetitive action like picking something up like dropped pegs, socks, towels etc, and when I am writing a list out I will hand him some paper and a pencil and let him ‘help’, he even loves sweeping and using the dustpan and brush! This means it generally takes me 100 times longer to complete a little task, and if I’m in a rush it’s not something I will do much, but it teaches our toddlers some very important life skills and if you have the patience for it, it can be a lot of fun!
So I guess, if none of these help you could always install a baby gate or ask any big siblings or friends to come and play for a while, or become a superwoman, don’t sleep at night and clean, work or study instead (not really- that would be awful!)
Do you have a tried and true method for getting things done with a toddler around- if you do please (in the interests if everyone’s sanity) share!