Now that I have a toddler instead of a baby, life is very different. When I first started working, my boy was only four months old. He needed little to no entertaining, he was sleeping for half the day, and he was happy just being next to me.
Nowadays, he’s capable of some 10 minutes of independent play (just about enough for me to prepare his breakfast and turn on the washing machine), but then the real fun starts! He’s quick to start pulling me around the house to play, or taking me to the door to indicate he wants to go outside.
And while my mother in law is truly a blessing, and working full time with him around would not have been possible without her, she can only take care of him for some 3-4 hours a day. The rest of the time, I have to figure out different ways to keep him happy while managing to work and keep the house from falling apart.
So, here are a couple of ways I do it, and a couple of tips for you to make organizing yourself around your toddler easier.
Pinpoint Your Free-est Time.
Many a time, you’ll be told to wake up an hour before your toddler, get ready for the day, and start on those chores or your other work. For some, that’s possible and that really is the best way to go.
But for me and many other parents who co-sleep — not as easy. As soon as I start getting up, he will wake up as well. I swear it’s like sorcery! This essentially means that I can freely stay up until midnight watching the House of Gucci while my husband tries not to spoil it for me, but I can’t get up before my toddler does the next morning.
So what I do instead is, I pinpoint my Free-est Time and make sure I get to must-do’s during it. For me, that time is around noon. I’ve already put some work in at the virtual office, he’s usually asleep, and that means I can manage to at least put away the dishes and start preparing his lunch.
I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but alas — you’ll have to. Because my mornings aren’t free, I try to add reading and yoga into my routine once I get him to sleep. Sometimes that’s 7pm, other times it’s 9pm. I won’t always feel like it and, yes, sometimes all I can do is sprawl on the couch and scroll through social media.
But I’ll do my absolute best to compromise and spend some 20 minutes doing yoga or reading. I know things like exercise (be it physical or mental) may seem like just another chore at the top of all other chores, but once you develop a habit of doing it, it won’t feel like you’re compromising on your me-time as much.
Include your toddler in your activities.
Now that he’s a bit more grown up (almost 14 months!), my boy can understand a lot more and sometimes is even willing to help. For example, if I’m folding the laundry, I’ll ask him to get the next piece for me. He sees it as a game and that often allows me to get something done even with him around.
Find ways to keep him entertained.
Last but certainly not least — find quality ways to keep your toddler entertained. Independent play is very important for their development, and providing educational toys (my little one is all into stacking stuff ATM), dolls, or cars (another one of his current favourites) can give you some extra time and keep him developing as well.
I also loooove baby books, although he more often than not wants me to read them to him. And I’ll admit — I sometimes turn to snacks and TV as a last resort. But even then, I try to be mindful about it. I’m always around and I make sure he’s watching something appropriate. He is currently loving Beat Bugs on Netflix, and I have caught myself going backwards more than once to catch the episodes I’ve missed!
Not all TV time is equal, and it should definitely be limited. This morning, for example, he watched it for some 20 minutes while I was folding laundry, after which he heard the washing machine turn on and then he was entertained for another 10 minutes.
Small victories, am I right?
How Many Hours a Day Should I Spend With My Toddler?
As moms, we always worry about not being present enough for our kiddos. It’s unfair that we have all this work (out of home and in it) instead of being able to be with our kids all the time.
But even two or three hours of quality, present time with your toddler a day is enough. So long as it’s spent engaging in activities that promote bonding, such as reading books, playing games, and going for walks, he’ll love it.
I am also a big, big fan of co-sleeping, as I already mentioned. My little one falls asleep with me hugging him, and he wakes up some time after midnight to come to our bed. Then we just cuddle until he’s asleep again, and when he wakes up in the morning, he sees us immediately and there’s such a smile on his face! This is precious time that doesn’t have to be interrupted by any sort of work, and I really cherish it.
So, there you have it — my tips for managing to do stuff with a toddler while still spending quality time with him.
Do you have any other tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them!