Ahh toddlers. Tiny little tyrants who are both absolutely adorable and terrifying at the same time. Their moods shift 180 degrees in seconds and you never know which mood you’ll get. But if you’re an adult human, you still need to do adult human things (even with said toddler around.) From laundry to cooking to running errands, these are all the things that aren’t gonna get done on their own, right?
So here are some toddler-tested tips about how to get things done while staying sane.
Depending on the age of your toddler, involving them in the activity you’re trying to accomplish is your best bet for getting anything done. So say you’re cooking dinner, and while your two-year-old can’t exactly chop the onions, they can help put together all the ingredients for a salad. If your kiddo is into “helping” you with the laundry, let him or her pour the soap or move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. There’s nothing a toddler likes more than imitation.
Maximize Nap Time
Toddlers typically nap until age three, so milk every last nap while you can. Depending on the day, they can be long or short, so I try to get as much done as I can as soon as my daughter goes down for her nap. I work on things that I definitely can’t do with my toddler around (like writing articles or heavy duty cleaning). The goal is to be as efficient as possible in the time that she sleeps.
Make It Fun
Everything is more fun when it’s a game. It’s easy to turn even the most mundane tasks into games. If you’re going to the grocery store, have your toddler “help” you by seeking out some of the products on your shopping list. Say you’re in the produce aisle and you’re looking for apples, have your kiddo go on a mission to help you locate them. Ask questions about the colors of produce and shapes of boxes. And here’s the grocery store magic trick – ask for samples!
Distract with Snacks
There’s a reason that most kids are potty-trained using M&M’s as an incentive. Snacks are a great motivator and distractor. Offering snacks will avoid future hunger meltdowns and keep toddlers focused on a task. Keep your fridge stocked with new and different foods, and offer different dips (toddlers LOVE to dip).
Embrace Your Toddler’s Attention Span
One great benefit that parents have over their tiny children is that most toddler attention spans are about that of a squirrel. Something might be fascinating one minute and absolutely terrible the next. Use that to your advantage. As you’re working around the house and they’re following along, keep pointing out new things and asking questions to engage them. Offer him or her a unique toy or book every few minutes to keep them busy.
A Positive Attitude is Contagious
Your vibes rub off on your toddler, whether you realize it or not. Kids are much more intuitive than we give them credit for, and if you are stressing out, chances are they’ll be following suit soon thereafter. Or if they’re upset and you’re happy, their mood will likely turn around quickly. Don’t get me wrong, toddlers are stressful. But it’s important to put on a smile and present whatever you need to do with your kiddo around in a positive manner.
And Here’s a Controversial Suggestion…
I know this is a hotly-debated topic on the Interwebs, with many strong opinions on both sides, but I like to plant myself firmly in the middle. Our daughter had very little TV time until two. Since then, we have utilized it in small increments. Some days my daughter gets more, some days none at all. But I try to use the TV as a treat for her (or when something really needs my attention). Like any parent, I don’t want to get in the habit of just plopping my kid down in front of the TV for an extended period of time. But hearing my daughter sing and dance along with the shows she’s watching makes me feel a lot less guilty.
All in all, with some time management and thought-out planning, getting through your to-do list with a toddler is possible. While it ain’t easy, nothing in motherhood really is. We all strive for that elusive ‘balance’, but I’ve accepted the fact that the feeling of balance is constantly in flux.