Friday, 13 September 2013

managing a home with a toddler

I am in dire need of some advice over here.

How on earth do you manage a home while taking care of an active toddler full-time? Since moving I am having a hard time cooking three healthy meals a day (plus an abundance of snacks), keeping to my cleaning schedule, taking care of myself, plus pouring myself into my daughter and making sure she's out of trouble. 

Here are some things I really struggle with:
>> showering
>> cleaning (vaccuming, unloading and loading the dishwasher, mopping...those are the big ones)
>> going to the bathroom (seriously, I know it sounds terrible, but most times I bring her in with me...and I'm wasting a a lot of toilet paper because she throws it every where!)

I spend a lot of Penelope's nap playing catch-up. I spend quiet time with the Lord, make myself something to eat, and tidy-up the house and clean. I also blog, and occasionally read and watch TV. But, I hate feeling like I have to constantly be doing things while she naps that I can't do otherwise. I used to also exercise while Pen napped, but I have given up on that since I need some time to myself.

So what are your tips? Today I put Penelope in her crib with a few toys while I showered and that actually worked. She cried a bit, but I'm learning that I need to just let her cry, and by the end of it she was playing happily in her crib and I was feeling clean again!

To clarify, Penelope is an excellent independent player. The problem is that when I'm not around (because I'm in the bathroom) or when I'm doing something very interesting like unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the floor, she gets distracted and wants to be involved.

Alright, advice time! :)


  1. Hey! It will definitely get better with time, so take heart! But here's how I arrange my housekeeping duties with a 2 and 3 year old:

    When we all get up in the morning I empty the dishwasher and reload it with things that didn't fit the night before. This is my first "chore" and it's usually when they're feeding themselves a simple breakfast (multigrain Cheerios, cut up fruit, sippy cup, etc). Then every other day I stuff my clean cloth diapers that are dry after being washed the night before. The kids love handing me the coloured covers and "helping", which they definitely started around Penny's age. It takes longer but it created an activity for them and I get diapers done!

    Throughout the day I might make our beds, plan dinner on my iPhone, or put a load of laundry in, but that's the extent of my housework then.

    During their naps I nap too. I MIGHT fold a load of laundry, have a QT, or prep dinner, but more than likely, I sleep the whole time!

    Lunch is simple ingredients so there's no cooking- cut up fruit and veg, cheese, pasta from leftovers, etc. at around 4:30 I put on 20 min of TV for them while I prep dinner and catch my breath.

    The rest is done after 7pm - showering, often me and Brad's dinner (we always eat together when the kids are down), laundry, cleaning the kitchen after dinner, vacuuming (couple times a week), Windex our glass coffee table (nightly cause it makes the whole room feel clean!), reading, TV, blogging, whatever.

    Brad mops the floors about once every two weeks also after the kids are down and he's done work. We do almost everything when the kids are down, so we don't juggle it much. Also, we accept that we won't always have everything done and that's OK :-)

    1. thanks for the tips! I always try to lie down when Pen naps too but I find Im never tired. Usually just as she's waking up I start thinking, hmmm I could use a nap!!

      I also have the same morning routine :) I guess I just prefer to do chores during the day because by Pen's bedtime I'm so out of it, but I might try doing a chore here and there...or just skipping some things

  2. Hi Bri! I will give you a few idea of how I keep my 18 month old occupied during the day. Of course, some of these things wouldnt fly in Canada (I live in Nicaragua!)

    Meals: I like to keep things simple. for Bethany, breakfast is some yogurt (we buy individual cups and she gets it out of the fridge every morning) and maybe some oatmeal or a banana or pancakes (if Im really on the ball). Lunch needs to be something I can easily throw together quickly like sandwiches, leftovers or mac and cheese. And dinner is usually a bit more involved, but I can usually use some of Bethanys nap time in the afternoon to prep.

    I am really trying to teach Bethany to play independently as well. If I am busy working and she brings me a book I will ask her to sit on the floor beside me and read it. it work about 50% of the time. If I have a minute or two I will sit and read it with her once, and then encourage her to look at it by herself. sometimes she fusses, but she usually gets over it quickly and finds something else to do. She usually wants to be within eye sight of me, so she mostly follows me as I go about my day. I live in a very small space, so its not hard to keep her close by. If there is anything that Im doing that would be dangerous for her to be around, I use a baby gate or block off an area so that she can still see me, but can't be in danger.

    I dont know the layout of your house but could you use baby gates to keep her in the living room (or another area where she is within eyesight) while you are working in the kitchen? Or even use a playpen in the room that you are working in?

    When in comes to the bathroom, Im right there with you. If I am alone in the house Bethany usually comes with me to the bathroom. I like to think that I am pre-potty training her. I always give her one square of toilet paper and tell her to "wipe her bum bum", which she does (more or less) and then throws it in the trash. Then she also gets to see me flush the toilet and wash my hands. Good habits that she will hopefully do to!

    And showering, well here in Nicaragua I shower before I go to bed, because its friggin hot. So Bethany is already in bed. But I have had to shower a few times when I am home alone with her and I basically had to make sure there was nothing around the house that she could use to get into trouble, and shower with the door open and talk to her throughout my shower. Unfortunately she is very scared of rain and water (on the floor) so has cried every time I've had to do that. I have heard that other people just bring their kids into the shower with them and they play on the floor of the tub while mom bathes. Ive never tried it though.

    And cleaning, well my house is a mess most of the time. But I can usually get Bethany to put away her own toys, if I hand each one to her and ask her to put it in the toy box (and ask like 10 times for each toy). I definitely get a lot more done during her naps. luckily she almost always sleeps 2.5 hours every afternoon.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!


    1. great tips Julia thank you!!! I will try some of the things u suggested :)

  3. Hey Brianna
    Like you I can't do housework after bedtime. Levi's bedtime isn't until usually after 8pm because we have him nap while we're in the barn. I go to the barn at 4pm and am not in until 6:30/7 then by the time we do supper and baths I'm exhausted.

    So I do all my cleaning during the day while Levi and Macy are awake. Macy is easy because she is content in a swing. Oh, and mopping is done only when Levi naps otherwise my nice clean floor has footprints.

    The easiest thing I've found is to let him help. Dusting is really easy to do with a kid around I find because they follow you. Lots of times I just give him whatever I have and then he "helps". Levi is scared of the vacuum so that usually happens when I can occupy him with a snack in his high chair.

    Showering .... well.... I am still trying to figure that one out too. If I'm desperate he comes in but that's not really relaxing. Otherwise it's after bedtime or before he gets up in the morning .

    I stopped having cleaning days and now I just clean as things are dirty. That means I might not mop for a week or two but end up vacuuming or wiping in the living room twice a week. This way I find things are cleaner than trying to have a mopping day or a vacuuming day and then wasting time doing something that didn't NEED to get done.

    She'll get easier and she'll get used to it. At first Levi used to whine and try and get my attention but now for the most part if I'm cleaning he'll just bring his toys into the room I'm in. If he can see me he's happy :)
    For me, as long as my house is clean I am usually okay with the untidiness that comes with a toddler playing. Toys are always picked up before bed though - I can't STAND coming downstairs in the morning to chaos.