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tips for getting more done with LOs around

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am busy all day but am amazed sometimes at how little I actually accomplish.  My DDs are 3.5 yrs ad 13 mos.  It seems like we spend all day just eating and diapering.  I struggle to get daily chores done -- laundry, picking up, meals.   Surely I'm missing something.

 

Some things I'm struggling with:

1.  the "do it now" principle":  I totally get that I need to do this; it just seems like there's always something "more important".   Example: We get back from the grocery store.  Even getting out the door as fast as I could, we get back late for lunch.  So I put the cold stuff away and everything else stays out so we can eat ASAP.  Since lunch is late, that means naptime is late too.  If the baby is really upset, I don't even get lunch cleaned up properly.  This kind of thing will continue all day long until I have a huge mess by evening.  If we go out later in the day, we'll just be late for something else.

 

2.  While I'm cleaning, the kids are messing up something else.  My 13 mo is into everything right now.  She can empty a dresser drawer in a minute.  But I don't feel like I should child-proof every drawer full of clothes.  I don't remember this stage lasting that long and it keeps her quiet.  But I'm still a bit frustrated with it. 

 

3. Mealtimes are very messy.  One meal and the floor needs mopped.  Of course that never happens, but it needs it.  How do I teach my 3 yo to eat neater? 

 

4.  I'm tired.  Last night I fell asleep for the night at 8pm when I was putting 3yo to bed and missed my night-time pick up altogether.  So this morning, I still had yesterday's supper on the high-chair (the "more important" problem in action.  We ate late because that's when DH got home and the baby really needed to get to bed right away).  I didn't get the diapers brought up from the dryer and had to make a special trip with both kids. 

 

5.  It's hard to do much with an arm full of baby.  And if I'm not carrying her, she's into everything.  She's finally taking longer naps (about 1:10 or 1:30 -- for the 2 months prior we were at one 30 min nap a day).  It's helped a ton, but I still feel like I need to figure this out. 

 

6.  Unfinished projects:  I guess this could fall under the "do it now" principle.  I notice most of my clutter is something I tried to start, but wasn't able to finish.  Frequently, I'll start something that I can do with the kids around, but then they need something that takes me out of the room before I finish. 

 

I have a daily chore list that helps me keep on track.  The problem is I have trouble getting everything done. 

 

I watch very little TV.  I DVR one show all week.  DH and I might watch on our together nights, but that time is already accounted for no matter what we do.  I might watch at night if I need a snack or am folding laundry, but overall not much at all.  I didn't even realize last winter that the olympics were on until almost a week later!

 

I can get stuck on the internet, but I'm not on the computer daily, or I might be using it to pay bills, renew library books...

 

I know I need to do some re-organizing type things to avoid some of the above issues, but I'm so bogged down with the day to day stuff, I don't know how to get to it.

 

I'm looking forward to your advice!

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 13

I so could have written this!!

 

For me, I've just had to accept that things aren't necessarily going to get done exactly how I want them all the time. Its not always pleasant, but I've managed to keep my sanity much better now that I'm trying to go with the flow. Sometimes the whole day is going to end up behind, but just accepting that, accepting there is only so much I can do and not getting frustrated is all I can do. For me, its been a real change in my mindset that's helped me.

 

One of the biggest things that has helped me is meal planning. Twice a month I sit down and come up with ten or eleven meals and I go grocery shopping for all of it. Once. That cuts down my shopping trips PLUS I'm never at a loss about what's for dinner. I've also started doing prep work whenever I have a chance throughout the day to streamline the evening process. My DS (11 mos) gets very cranky by 6 and will literally crawl after me crying and grabbing my legs if I'm trying to cook. Getting as much ready as possible while he's napping in the afternoon makes it much easier to cook!!

 

Does your 3.5 yr old attend preschool? I find doing as much of the housework during my DD's preschool hours as possible makes it much easier. Also my DD likes to take DS into her room and shut the door. Basically they do their bes to pull out every toy possible, unload dresser drawers and make a huge mess. But while they are doing that, I get two or three other rooms picked up. wink1.gif To me, its totally worth it. Plus I get to hear them giggling and laughing and I know they are building a good sibling relationship. orngbiggrin.gif

 

I do find that getting the house clean and just maintaining it is easier, but sometimes that's easier said than done. We do pick up toys at least once a day, twice if the kids have managed to trash everything. That helps quite a bit.

 

Babies at this age (11 mos for me and 13 for you!!) are natrually curious about everything. And, of course, the only way to satisfy that curiosity is to explore! Its a huge mess sometimes (esp when 4.5 yr old DD plays baby and helps rip all the books of the shelf.....) but its the way of babies. It doesn't last forever. smile.gif

 

Also, I need downtime. I need time with my hubby, I need to be alone sometimes. That's not a bad thing. Working myself to death isn't going to help anyone in the long run. So if that means I've had a bad day, the house is trashed and I'm about to drop, I drop. I've even had a stretch of days at a time where I'm just glad everyone gets fed, changed and that we've got clean clothes and dishes. Don't be afraid to take downtime if that's what you need to do!

 

Anyway, HTH! smile.gif

post #3 of 13

Just want to say, I have been there! I only have one 13 mo old and I know how they can really make a mess, believe me!! Sometimes she literally follows me around, destroying everything I just cleaned up. It is frustrating to say the least. Esp when DH gets home and it looks like I haven't done a thing all day. I think preschool is a great idea! Also the meal planning thing, although it is tough to keep to a schedule like that if you are not a naturally organized person, which personally, I am not. As far as messy mealtimes, maybe you could get one of those mats to put on the floor, or just use a garbage bag? That way you can just roll it up and put it away to clean later...it is less work than mopping a floor. Also, maybe try feeding foods like cheese, pasta, etc, stuff that is easier to clean up..I read an article awhile back about cleaning etc with a small child and it really helped me. Basically it said that having a clean house is less important than having a happy baby and that as long as your house is reasonably clean, don't worry about it.."reasonably clean" is open to interpretation, lol. Some days I look around and the house is a complete mess, but I shrug and just try to keep in mind that it won't always be that way. Oh, also, can you make a game with your 3.5 yo to help clean? I have been doing that with DD and she loves to help. My DH also goes on cleaning sprees when it gets bad enough that it bothers him. You could also try wearing the 13 mo in a back carrier??? That way you could get more done. Oooh, and baby gates to keep the kids out of certain rooms that you don't want messed up. Hope this helps.

post #4 of 13

this is tough, tough work. anybody who says otherwise obviously hasn't done it.


Edited by ElliesMomma - 5/29/11 at 12:02am
post #5 of 13

i really agree and can relate with your post and all of the responses. i just wanted to add that getting up before the boys (19m and 3m) in the morning and having a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal makes my day seem *just that much* better. things flow easier, messes dont stress me out that much, i can handle crying like a pro, etc.

 

i dont know if you already get up before your LOs do, but if you dont, i suggest giving it a serious try. or doing something similar to give your hectic day a good start.

post #6 of 13

I'm actually reading this thread for suggestions because I'm having a hard time with this too!  But one thought I had was to wonder whether you have some kind of backpack that you can stick the 13 month old in when she's wanting to be carried.  That would free up two hands to get something done.  Good luck, and I'll log back in to see everyone else's suggestions... :)  (Love the meal planning idea--when I'm "on it" enough to do that it does make life SO much easier!)

post #7 of 13

I have older-ish kids now, but when they were little I went through a very messy stage.  I was always proud at the end of the day, that I had sat and read a book with them, or gone for a walk and I reminded myself that was more important to me at the end of the day than being proud of a vaccuumed carpet or no dishes in the sink.  I was able to get things done by  putting a kiddo on the floor in the kitchen with tupperware bowls, mixing spoons, measuring spoons- even a 1/2 cup of flour or salt- this was a good 20 minutes of time to keep the kid occupied,within my sight and I was able to get things done in the kitchen.  yes, it's a mess, but 1/2 cup of flour isn't THAT hard to clean up after and you can get a LOT done in 20 minutes.I would also do things WITH my kids, play a chase game while vacuuming- they can hide under a blanket on the couch while I say 'where are those kids?" and pretend to look around and every 2 minutes slip the cover off and say "i found you!" Also- what about teaming up with another mom?  If you have any friends in similar situations I bet you could swap two hours of your time for two hours of theirs?A

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies!!

 

I attempt meal planning, but only a couple of days at a time and even then I seem to have trouble sticking to it.  The good news is that we have plenty of food around, so I can usually come up with something decent.  I do need to cut down trips to the grocery store just to save time, but I don't usually go because I need something to complete a meal; I'll go because there is a great sale that I want to stock up on.

 

My 3.5 yo isn't in preschool yet.  She's been talking about it alot, but they seem to start in the fall.  She's usually the easiest to work around anyway just because she's older and entertains herself well.  The two of them alone together -- not a good idea.  She loves the baby so much, but it seriously lacking the gentle touch.

 

I do take downtime, but get discouraged when the house falls to pieces in one day. 

 

My messy mat is (ironically) causing clutter elsewhere.  I just didn't get how a dirty mat on my floor was any better than a dirty floor.  But maybe if I could shake it out after a meal and stow it away and throw it in the washing machine once in a while, it could work.

 

I love my ergo, but since the baby started walking, she is not happy about being put in, so I usually keep it for when I really need it instead of the everyday it used to be.

 

I have a hard time knowing what "reasonably clean" is.  I don't think I'm there.  I think some issues with perfectionism and trying too much are keeping me from getting to everything. 

 

Keeping the 3 yo involved and helping when I clean is a great reminder.  I've been so tired lately that it's been hard to be playful.  The baby's been doing this thing where she'll be up for hours in the middle of the night.  I seem to be particularly sensitive to those hours because a nap or early to bed or sleeping in just doesn't seem to help.

 

I am proud of spending time with my kids, especially if we really connected, but I'm having a hard time balancing it with feeling grossed out about the kitchen, for example.

 

We spent Thanksgiving with SIL (who doesn't have kids) and I realized a couple of things:

 

1. Kids really are that much work. 

 

2.  I'm trying to do a lot -- cloth diaper, cook, compost, coupon, garden, no CIO, AP... These are all normal to me and I don't want to quit anything because I value them, but they do take up time, and they are things a lot of people don't do. 

 

I think I need to focus on prioritizing for a while.  And somehow get the baby to sleep because I feel great if I'm rested and terrible if I'm not.

post #9 of 13

First and formost is coming to the realization that you will not get everything done.  Because every time you think you are done, something else gets added to the list.  I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old so I am working on realizing that myself. 

 

So, to address each of your points specifically:

 

 

Quote:
 

1.  the "do it now" principle":  I totally get that I need to do this; it just seems like there's always something "more important".   Example: We get back from the grocery store.  Even getting out the door as fast as I could, we get back late for lunch.  So I put the cold stuff away and everything else stays out so we can eat ASAP.  Since lunch is late, that means naptime is late too.  If the baby is really upset, I don't even get lunch cleaned up properly.  This kind of thing will continue all day long until I have a huge mess by evening.  If we go out later in the day, we'll just be late for something else. 

 If you absolutely cannot "do it now." then work on really trying hard to "do it as soon as possible."  Kids are antsy because they are hungry so you only have time to put up the cold stuff...fine.  Make a lunch that's quick, but has some "lag" time.  For example, grilled cheese.  While you are grilling it, put a couple mroe groceries away.  Get the kids in their seats while it's cooling off, then instead of eating with them, put the rest of it away while they are eating.  Clean up afterwards...have the older one help clean up immediately after lunch.  And, if you just can't do any of it until after baby goes down for a nap...then do it as soon as baby is down for the nap.  It really is true that the faster you do it, the easier it is to get it done, the longer you let it sit, the harder it is to get up and do it.

 

 

Quote:
 

 

2.  While I'm cleaning, the kids are messing up something else.  My 13 mo is into everything right now.  She can empty a dresser drawer in a minute.  But I don't feel like I should child-proof every drawer full of clothes.  I don't remember this stage lasting that long and it keeps her quiet.  But I'm still a bit frustrated with it.  

 

A playpen is your friend, IMO for this.  Not a Pack N Play...A PLAYPEN.  Big enough for the child to move around and actually play in.  They are hard to find, but they do make them.  I have a Graco one that my youngest is practically living in to keep her out of the danger zone of the 2 yr old.  Or you can get a play yard, those big fence things that link together to create a safe space for the kids.  I am not advocating banishing the child to the playpen/yard all day, just when you absolutely have to get something done (ie you need to cook and can't have a 1 yr old underfoot, etc)  and need the child contained.

 

 

 

Quote:
 

3. Mealtimes are very messy.  One meal and the floor needs mopped.  Of course that never happens, but it needs it.  How do I teach my 3 yo to eat neater?  

 

Yep, meals are messy.  I don't think that could be changed, I think that just comes with toddlers.  But, you can have her help.  And you could also try to head this off by trying serve stuff that's naturally less messy.  If you are having an issue with spilled drinks, I totally think sippy cups are acceptable for thoes ages.  For foods, chicken nuggests/chunks etc are less messy than say rice which leaves little grains all over.  Grilled cheese is less messy than soup, that sort of thing.

 

 

Quote:
 

4.  I'm tired.  Last night I fell asleep for the night at 8pm when I was putting 3yo to bed and missed my night-time pick up altogether.  So this morning, I still had yesterday's supper on the high-chair (the "more important" problem in action.  We ate late because that's when DH got home and the baby really needed to get to bed right away).  I didn't get the diapers brought up from the dryer and had to make a special trip with both kids.  

 

Incorporate the night time pick up into the 3 yo night time routine.  My 2.5 year old picks up before getting ready for bed.  And while she's picking up, I help and also take care of things that she can't, like cleaning up that high chair dinner mess.  Also, you mention you missed your night time pick up, and the baby had to get to bed and your DH was home....is there a reason HE couldn't have taken care of the high chair mess?

 

 

Quote:
 

5.  It's hard to do much with an arm full of baby.  And if I'm not carrying her, she's into everything.  She's finally taking longer naps (about 1:10 or 1:30 -- for the 2 months prior we were at one 30 min nap a day).  It's helped a ton, but I still feel like I need to figure this out. 

 

 

Slings/carriers, playpens and baby proofing.  My 2.5 year old is into EVERYTHING.  Like, absolutely everything.  And with a nursing 3 month old, it's tough to keep her out of it all.  So, I remove it.  She has recently taken to climing up the piano to get the stuff I was displaying on top of it.  So I have moved it all so she can't get into it anymore.  I can't keep her in the playpen because she climbs out, but a 13mo old you shouldn't have any problem with it.  With a sling/carrier, you can carry the baby and still have your hands free.  I still carry the 2 yr old in a ring sling on my hip sometimes. 

 

 

 

Quote:
 

6.  Unfinished projects:  I guess this could fall under the "do it now" principle.  I notice most of my clutter is something I tried to start, but wasn't able to finish.  Frequently, I'll start something that I can do with the kids around, but then they need something that takes me out of the room before I finish.  

 

I think there are probably a couple tips to help with this, regarding time management.  First, I think longer projects maybe try to do when your spouse is around so that when they need something they could go to him.  Or perhaps deliberately breaking the project down and having a place put put it up while it waits.  So for say...cleaning the bathroom...you plan to do the shower first, and then put the cleaning supplies IN the shower when you are done with the shower, with the plan that you will come back and do the tub in an hour after the kids are down for a nap.  Also, I don't think it's a bad thing all the time to just have the kids wait.  Obviously not if the 1 yr old is screaming and the 3 yr old tells you she pooped her pants or whatever.  But if it's just the 3 yr old wanting something to snack on, while she can wait until you finish. 

 

 

 

Quote:
 

I have a daily chore list that helps me keep on track.  The problem is I have trouble getting everything done.  

 I have a huge giant to do list, but what I have started doing, instead of trying to plan one big chore list every day trying to get as much as possible done. I have started asking myself, ok, what are the three MOST IMPORTANT things to get done.  And I focus on those.  I don't even always get those done, but at least I have my priorities straight so that when I do get a moment, I know  exactly what to focus on first.

 

 

 

Quote:
 

I do find that getting the house clean and just maintaining it is easier, but sometimes that's easier said than done. We do pick up toys at least once a day, twice if the kids have managed to trash everything. That helps quite a bit. 

 I agree.  Daily maintainence is easier.  Both mine take naps and if I can get them to go down at the same time, I pick up then too.

 

 

 

Quote:
 

i really agree and can relate with your post and all of the responses. i just wanted to add that getting up before the boys (19m and 3m) in the morning and having a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal makes my day seem *just that much* better. things flow easier, messes dont stress me out that much, i can handle crying like a pro, etc. 

 I also agree with this.  My young one often has a really early nursing session, like 4 or 5 am.  And then she is back down for another couple hours.  Though I am tired, I take advantage of that time to fold laundry or empty the dishwasher so that I can rinse and load as I go during the day, etc.  As soon as she's down, I have a real breakfast, then usually throw in laundry and try to get as much done as I can before my two little ones are really going for the day.

 

 

 

Quote:
 

I have older-ish kids now, but when they were little I went through a very messy stage.  I was always proud at the end of the day, that I had sat and read a book with them, or gone for a walk and I reminded myself that was more important to me at the end of the day than being proud of a vaccuumed carpet or no dishes in the sink.  I was able to get things done by  putting a kiddo on the floor in the kitchen with tupperware bowls, mixing spoons, measuring spoons- even a 1/2 cup of flour or salt- this was a good 20 minutes of time to keep the kid occupied,within my sight and I was able to get things done in the kitchen.  yes, it's a mess, but 1/2 cup of flour isn't THAT hard to clean up after and you can get a LOT done in 20 minutes.I would also do things WITH my kids, play a chase game while vacuuming- they can hide under a blanket on the couch while I say 'where are those kids?" and pretend to look around and every 2 minutes slip the cover off and say "i found you!" Also- what about teaming up with another mom?  If you have any friends in similar situations I bet you could swap two hours of your time for two hours of theirs?A 

 Yes to all of this. 

 

 

Quote:
 

I have a hard time knowing what "reasonably clean" is.  I don't think I'm there.  I think some issues with perfectionism and trying too much are keeping me from getting to everything.  

 "reasonably clean" IMO is clean enough to not be a health and safety hazard.  No broken glass on the floor or table.  No mold growing on the carpets.  No massive amounts of bugs and spiders (I firmly believe that every house has one or two most of the time)  That, IMO, is reasonably clean.  A couple of dust bunnies in the corner, not affecting anyone's health and safety, so no big deal. 

 

 

Some other tips...be sure to enlist your DH!  If you can't get the grocery stuff put away all day, make him put it away when he gets home.  Or make him keep the kids occupied while you put it away. 

 

 

post #10 of 13

I think this was posted a long time ago but it just caught my eye.  It's so HARD to get everything done, I totally agree with that!  How are you doing since your Thanksgiving realization?

 

Like others, I wonder how you are currently enlisting your partner's help, and whether there are ways to maximize that more?  Some things that I try to do, with varying levels of success, are:

  • When my little one is clingy, I put her in a backpack for cooking and cleaning the kitchen (dishes etc.).  For a while that's how she went to sleep at night, being rocked to the sound of dishwashing.
  • I do eat w/ my kids to model the behaviors I want to see.  They're pretty neat (most days), and I still need to sweep every day.  And wipe the table, THAT really drives me crazy!
  • All my kids know how to sweep up crumbs using their own dustpan.  we just got a cordless vac to further help facilitate clean-ups
  • We have a big bin of washcloths that get used to clean up any spills.  Even the littlest one can get them, and she frequently does!
  • While I'm cleaning, finding ways for the kids to help: sweeping (with their own sweeper), dusting - I can organize the surfaces and they go around with dusting cloths.  That does frequently morph into them chasing each other with dirty cloths, but what are you gonna do, right?, mopping - I usually just give everyone some rags and we wipe down all the spots on the floor.  They often love it.  When they don't, they're welcome to go play.  For folding laundry, I do give them socks to match (DS esp), and the little one will hand me clothes and put folded ones into stacks.  She also helps me to know whose is whose :)
  • the urgency of the children does get less, so while your baby regularly crashes around bedtime now, in another 6 months that might no longer be the case so then you can more easily do things like wipe off teh high chair no matter what, or put those groceries away.  I actually leave my non-perishables in the car until after they're all in bed.  Anyway, just to say to have patience and grace with yourself.  As they learn greater self-control I do think that this element becomes a little easier.
  • I do use tv once in a while for the 4 year old, other times he takes the little one under his wing and they play so nicely together
  • Heap grace on yourself, and enlist DH to help. We do chores as a family every Saturday, which ends up meaning that one parent gets the kids to "help" while the other parent speed-cleans.  I really recommend it!!
  • I have kids clear their own dishes, even the littlest one does it.
  • Like another poster, I have only 3 tasks to do that day.  It can be; call doctor, clean bathroom, sweep floors.  Or it could be: return those terribly overdue library books, find a craft project for DS, and take the kids to run around outside.  Whatever I deemed most important when I was planning the night before (or sometimes I do it over breakfast w/ the kids).

I hope some of that helps. Hang in there! 

post #11 of 13

There are only a few things that I NEED to get done every day (like, my standards are not that high).  

The kitchen has to be clean

Toys have to be picked up  (we have a big toybox that you can just throw everything in)

Laundry washed (but I don't care if it's folded and it's almost never put away).

Cook dinner (will happily serve a sandwich for lunch but I do mostly need to cook a decent dinner).

 

So I do those, no matter what.  If that means the kids watch TV, OK.  If that means they are cordoned off in the LR b/c they were under my feet, fine.  I really don't believe kids are supposed to be entertained by their parents 24/7 and a child complaining because they're expected to entertain themselves in 15 minute increments doesn't really bother me.  I think it's a decent, healthy expectation to have.

 

My place used to be a total mess and I found it very depressing.  Once I shifted my expectations and focus so that those things got done, no matter what, things drastically improved!

 

 

post #12 of 13

I can relate. One thing I found that helps is when I purchased a fence to keep my kids in a "safe" area of the house. They have a bedroom and the living room to play in. This has brought me my sanity back and my ability to actually get a few things accomplished. Like, cleaning up after a meal or washing the dishes. 

 

The fence cost me around $100 on amazon and has a little door to get in and out of that is childproof. The kids got used to it very quickly. Now, I don't have to worry about them digging through and messing up every room of the house or them getting hurt by getting into things they shouldn't. 

post #13 of 13

After years of being a horrible housekeeper (even before family life came along), I have developed a two pronged approach. First, my 18 mo dd LOVES to help. I try to incorporate her in the daily chores that interest her most, such as washing dishes. Our dishwasher died a while back, so I've been handwashing them the old fashioned way. We fill up one side of the sink with soapy water and the other with the rinse water. I let her stand on a chair next to the sink and she helps rinse. Granted, at this stage, she's mostly just playing with a couple cups, dipping them in the soapy water, then in the rinse water, and back again. Sometimes, things do get a little messy, water being splashed around and all. So we grab our cleaning rags and wipe up the counter, and I bought dd her own little mop and broom a while back, so then we each grab our mops and clean up any water on the floor. She has fun, we spend time together and I get stuff done. Second, I spend less than hour on housework a day (excluding completing one small load of laundry a day, cooking and dishwashing.) I pick a different room in my house each day and devote 15 minutes to cleaning and decluttering. The other rooms get 5 minutes a day and then 2 minutes to clear off the dining room table, which is the catch-all for EVERYTHING under the sun. I set a timer and when the timer goes off, that's it, I'm done with that room for the day. It sort of a simplified, modified version of Flylady. Also,I don't do all the cleaning at once, because I burn out pretty quickly when it comes to cleaning. It's done in spits and spurts throughout the day. Somedays, I manage to do a little more, some days not. And while my house is not ready for Better Homes and Gardens, it's no longer the chaotic mess it once was.

 

Just remember: "If at first you don't succeed, redefine success."

 

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