Nov 20, 2015

5 Tips to Getting Things Done With A Toddler

Lovestrong Tips on Getting Things Done with a toddler

I do not claim to be an expert at this whatsoever, but I did want to share what works for me and my girls on a daily basis (most days). This is mostly geared towards toddlers, since McKinlee takes a little more effort than Addie (6 months old). 

Utilize nap/quiet time

One of the best pieces of advice I got on multiple occasions is to always have quiet time. I don't necessarily care if my 2.5 year old sleeps, but she always has quiet time in her room by herself. She has a few stuffed animals and books that she can read, but other than that I keep the rest of the room empty so she's not distracted by toys. If she does fall asleep, it's usually for 2 hours or so. If she won't fall asleep, I'll have her stay in her room for 1-2 hours depending on how she does. Somedays she'll play for an hour and then fall asleep. It's all a guessing game, but I am so happy I've enforced it because it gives both of us a little break. While she sleeps I shower if I haven't been able to yet, blog, plan dinner/grocery list, or have some me time. Yes I consider taking a break still getting things done, because sometimes you just need it. It's also a good time to fold laundry while I watch a little Netflix and eat my popcorn + chocolate chips. I try to save my quiet activities for this time so I don't wake the girls up.

Involve Them

There are plenty of things I do through out the day that I can involve McKinlee in- they just take a little longer. When we make beds together, we end up making pillow forts, which is ok sometimes and other days I try to get it done quickly. We brush our teeth together and get ready for the day together. If I'm picking up a room, we'll sing the clean up song and she'll usually jump in to help (but occasionally she'll say "no" and continue throwing every toy out of the basket. It's a toss up.). She really enjoys cooking with me, so if I need to distract her, I'll give her a plastic bowl with her special spatula. It's not long before she asks to put some condiment in her bowl to mix. I don't love messes, but they're inevitable with a toddler so I usually try to choose a less messy option.

Clean While They're Awake

When McKinlee was a baby I never felt like I could put her down and clean. I would wait until she was asleep to pick up the 409, but it seemed like as soon as I did she would wake up from the noise. After some time I realized it was not the end of the world if I put my baby down while she was awake. Now that McKinlee is older, I can easily clean while she is awake and distracted, or as mentioned before, she will sometimes try to help. She loves washing windows and mirrors, which is an awesome easy thing for me to pass off to her while I work on some of the bigger jobs. For me, nap time is sacred time and it should not be wasted on cleaning. I like it better that way.

Set Aside Specific Time For Them

Do what they want to do, play their games. Put your phone somewhere out of reach so that your little can see that you're focused on them. I know McKinlee can tell when I'm not giving her my full attention, because she'll get frustrated quickly, or start to act out to get me to focus on her. I have learned that it is best for all of us if I give her the special time she needs. I try to say yes to whatever activity she wants to do. Painting? Yes it'll be a bit of a mess, but that's nothing when compared to the value of aiding in her creativity. Making a snack? The kitchen is probably the room where the biggest messes happen, but she loves to mix and cut and pretend to cook things with me. Kids need variety. They don't want to do the same 5 things every day. Their minds love to explore and learn. They're not called "little scientists" for nothing. Give them the freedom to do new things, and be there with them while they learn.

Give Them Simple Tasks While You Work

Some of McKinlee's favorite activities while I'm busy in the kitchen are stacking frosting containers/spices, playing drums using measuring spoons and tupperware, and "sweeping" the floor. After they lose interest, have them clean up each mess. This usually buys me two more minutes to finish up whatever I'm working on. McKinlee also loves following a chain of instructions. For example: "run down the hall, touch the door, then come back and do a flip on the couch." She could do this for a half hour easy if I can continue coming up with new things for her to do.

I hope this helps give you some ideas of what to do with your busy toddler when you so desperately need to wash the piles of dishes in your sink from the night before, give your 6 month old a bath, and fold the 3 loads of laundry you were finally able to get done... This is just an example of course... ;)
Happy Friday!


  1. Great advice. What a cute and thoughtful mom you are. I wish you were around with this advice when I was a young mom. We are so proud of all of you and all you are doing to get through school.