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How do I get chores done around the house w/ a super-clingy toddler

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

My 18 mo toddler is extremely clingy, has been like this for almost 3-4 months. It's hard for me to get anything done around the house when he is awake. He plays with his toys by himself as long as I sit near him. The moment I step in to the kitchen, all hell breaks lose. He'll keep pushing my leg or just hold it tight and when I try to take a step, he ends up falling on the hardwood floor and hurts himself. I try to hold him but i worry when I'm near the stove. I tried wearing him on my back, but he doesn't like staying there. I feel so inept when I can't get anything done. I see other moms who have such clean homes, cook nutritious food for their family and find time to pursue their hobbies and here I am, unable to even have a shower regularly. I can't even sit at the table and eat a decent meal. Any tips by BTDT moms? Please tell me this phase won't last for long.


ETA: He doesn't watch TV, I've tried it.

post #2 of 21

My husband made our son a learning tower when he was around 16 months old, and he enjoys standing in it while I cook. I got him his own cloth veggies and some little pots and pans and he can play along. Try something like that, see if he wouldn't want to "help". At the table, have you tried giving him books to look at while you sit at the table and chop veggies and such? DS can be entertained by books or stickers (he loves stickers of trains and cars) sitting at the table while I get stuff done in the kitchen.

Good luck!

post #3 of 21

I second the Learning Tower. It gives her a feeling of participation and I can keep her at a safe distance. I drag it over to the washer and let her throw soap and clothes in. I also put it in front of the sink and let her wash potatoes with a scrubber. Basically anything I can watch her do while I keep an eye out for her keeps her happy. We keep a large sheet of paper taped down to the counter and a box of crayons out at all times so she can hop up there and draw.


We have two rules with the tower:


1. Two feet IN the tower at all times. We do not let her use it to climb on something else.

2. Only mommy moves the tower.


Honestly the Learning Tower has been a complete game changer. It gives her a sense of freedom and brings her up to our level when she decides so she can participate. I just found out there is an attaching easel but we can't really afford it right now.


I know it sounds like I'm promoting an object over a parenting behavior but it has completely changed our dynamic. It takes awhile to adjust but once they get the rules of the tower it is extremely helpful. It took me a couple months to put it together but I wish I had done it the moment we got it.

post #4 of 21
I third the learning tower suggestion. We love having our LO up at the bench with us. She went through a very clingy stage around that age too and I struggled to do anything. I would do most things while DH took her out or she spent an hour or two with my parents. Take heart, it doesn't last forever though. I think around 20 months was the turning point for us.
post #5 of 21

DD at 24 months is still very opposed to the idea of independent play :)  One thing that helps me is having a very clear idea of what I need to accomplish and putting some of the regular chores into our daily routine.  In general, I involve DD in my chores.  It makes them take a long time, but at least they get done.  She has a toy vacuum and a small broom/dustpan.  She hands me the dishes out of the dishwasher.  She helps me sort the laundry and pushes the basket around for me.  We don't have a learning tower, but I can get some good cooking done if I fill the sink with soapy water and DD's bath toys and stand her up on a chair to play.  I also will set up a little zone for her in the kitchen with a blanket, lounge pillow, stuffed animal, and activity.  We've also been using the kitchen timer since DD was quite young.  I set it for, like, 3 minutes and tell her that we can play when the timer goes beep-beep-beep.  If I precede this with focused play time, I can get 10 - 15 minutes out of her now.  She will often be upset for the first 5 minutes or so, but by the end of the time she usually tells me she's "too busy" to do anything with me. 

post #6 of 21

DD can be like this too - is he an only child?


The best thing for me to do if she is behaving that way is drop what im doing and play with her for 20 minutes. Then after she gets my undivided attention I tell her I need to do x, while she (colors, plays with play doh, x) It usually works and we both feel better.


post #7 of 21

All I can say, OP, is we are right there with you.  My kid, if he thinks for 2 seconds that I am not watching, eats play-doh and marker tips and crayons.  The best I usually can do is park him in a high chair with a bowl of water and scrub brush.  He will sometimes wash an (already clean) potato.  I sometimes can give him a butter knife and cheese to "cut" to "help," that kind of thing.  He absolutely knows when my attention is elsewhere and he just doesn't like it, I suppose.  Now, if his dad is home, he'll often play by himself.  If it's just us home and I need to even pee on my own, he'll claw outside the bathroom door and howl.  He's around 2.


Sometimes I'll give him books in the highchair.  He sometimes'll thumb through them, but just as often will throw them (in the sink water, of course), either at the floor or directly at me.


I have set him up with little play areas where he can see me and some toys/stuff he can only use when I am doing something like dishes.  He will usually get up and get between me and the cabinets so I can't do dishes.


It's maddening, but I know it won't be forever.  I try really, really hard to maintain my temper and not swear, but it doesn't always work.

post #8 of 21

I find that DS is underfoot, always.  But if I give him something to "help" with, or play with, then he'll play on his own for a bit, although I sometimes get "mamma, mamma" every 15 seconds when he wants some attention.  We don't have a "learning tower", just a little step stool.  I will often pull that up to the counter when I'm working in the kitchen so DS can watch/help.  If I'm doing something he can't "help" with, then I'll put a towel on the floor in front of the sink, pull the stool up to it, put the plugs in the sinks, turn the water on low, and give DS a cup to play with in the sink.  That buys me 20 mins, usually.  If I want to vacuum, I give DS something to "vaccuum" with too.  If I dust, he gets a rag to dust with.  It doesn't always work, but generally getting DS involved in an activity buys me some time to get some of that activity done.

post #9 of 21

My 18 month old is like this too. I try to do some kitchen stuff when he's eating in his high chair (like load/unload the dishwasher, because otherwise he's all up in it) and I also have some lower cabinets where I keep big pots and pans that he is allowed to play in. The rest are all baby-proofed with locks! Sometimes I'll ask him to take all the pots out of the cabinet and then give him some others to put back and that will keep him busy for five minutes or so, if I need to wipe counters or something. For other stuff, it has to wait until naps! 

post #10 of 21

Something that happened rather by accident around here is that DS can entertain and really play by himself for a really, really long time (more than an hour) as long as we have his music on for him and he has access to his books and toys. It's amazing- I take showers, make phone calls, clean, all the things I could never do! DS loves music and we've encouraged it and we always have music playing but it's only in the past month or so that I could put the music on and he will sit and look out the window, "sing" along, chatter to himself while looking at books or playing with blocks or cars. I think it helps that he is really familiar with the music and knows the words because he listens to the same 5 or 6 cds all the time. I think it occupies his mind thinking about the familiar concepts in the songs (animals, farms, etc) and he is used to feeling comforted and happy listening to music so he's not worried about where I am or what I'm doing.


We don't do TV at all either and I don't think a young kid should be left watching tv alone- just my opinion. 

But try the music if your LO one has some cds he likes. It might just be an age thing too- it just clicked for my son recently.

post #11 of 21

i have my 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old daughters help me pick up thier toys, and while im cooking dinner and doing dishes i sit one on one side of my kitchen counter, and one on the other side, keeping them seperated eliminates, fights, and they love helping by sitting there helping me do dishes and cook

post #12 of 21

Just wanted to butt in to say THANK YOU for asking this question!!!  And thank you all for your awesome replies! thumbsup.gif  I had never even heard of a learning tower (not that I'm sure we can afford one) but it is great to get some ideas going...  


I have a soon-to-be-one-year-old who is mostly attached to my body, haha (currently napping in my lap).  The phase where he could sit up and play with toys but not yet crawl away (~6 months?) allowed me to get a LITTLE bit done in the kitchen - at least some of the meal prep, if not the actual cooking.  But since he's been mobile, it's become a little trickier.  He will play with soup cans, jars, pots and pans, etc. for a few minutes, but if I'm doing something up out of his sight, he immediately just wants to be held (still, I can wash maybe 2 mugs and a bowl - it's something!)  


I had to have my husband watch him so I could vacuum last night, and it was a battle because he loves the vacuum and wants to be all up in the mix! dizzy.gif  I used to vacuum with him in the carrier and he would fall asleep, but he is old enough now that he gets restless and squirmy, wanting to play with the vacuum, etc. - the carrier approach only seems to work if we are constantly moving on a walk. This thread has given me hope AND great ideas to implement as he gets a little bit older - who knows, maybe I'll be able to add some! winky.gif


Showering, of course, is still a challenge - I buckled him into a toddler chair with lots of toys yesterday, but he just screamed and howled the entire 5 minutes I was in there - I was singing to him and checking on him and it made no difference - poor kid managed to drag himself over to the toilet, the chair hanging off his little butt, and started banging his fists on the toilet while sobbing! mecry.gif Poor lil dude - at least his Dad can usually distract him for a few minutes when he first comes home.


Anyway - I feel your pain! hug.gif

post #13 of 21

Depends on the layout of your house, what you can manage.  For me, having him in the kitchen uncontained during the clingy phase wasn't possible - it's too small.  Once he got past being willing to sit in the high chair, I started putting a gate up in the kitchen door.  I baby-proofed the front end of the house, and he has free reign.  Gate up, mommy right on the other side of the gate.  There is still to this day sometimes some screaming/fussing involved, but mostly he's okay with me going into the kitchen and doing stuff. 


The rest of the house though - cleaning only gets done if he is distracted (TV, iPad, daddy, etc.) or on the other side of a gate, otherwise I'm tripping over him, and I can't handle it.  Or it happens after his bedtime.  I'll often pick up the living room after he's in bed for the night.  It's just easier. 


I will say though that I do not play with him.  He had to get used to independent play early.  I don't have the patience for it.  2 minutes of playing is about all I can handle at a time. 


And nowadays he's mostly okay in the kitchen if I'm not trying to cook (I use the gate when I'm cooking).  I've made sure to move the breakable stuff up out of his reach, so he can play in the cabinets.  I've gated off one half of the house, but he can have the run of the front end and the kitchen/bathroom area.  That allows me to take the occasional shower during the day - mostly he'll come watch because he's fascinated by running water, but he's stopped complaining about it.  But for the most part showers happen after his bedtime. 

post #14 of 21

We didn't have money for a learning tower so we used a step stool with a hand bar at the top.  worked great. 

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your suggestions. Honestly, it's so difficult to get anything done and I'm physically exhausted most days. Right now, he's going through a phase where he doesn't want to eat solids, which means frequent night-wakings for nursing and I'm so tired in the morning. I didn't know about the learning tower but not sure if it's something we can afford/are willing to spend on right now. As much as I hate to use the iPad as a babysitter, that's the only way I can eat in peace or get some much-needed rest.


@lilgreenmama: Yes, he's my only child. I'd love to have another child but I keep wondering how I'd manage with 2, if I can't even manage one.


@pickle18: Gosh, your LO sounds just like mine!

post #16 of 21

maba - I agree!  I think we may only have one lil one for many reasons, but certainly also because if we have another that is "high needs" or whatever you want to call it (as he's been since infancy - the clinginess is just a part of it) I don't know how I'd juggle! smile.gif  I sure do love our little dude, though - and I'm sooo glad I found AP and can stay home with him - it does make a big difference! (just not for the cleanliness of our house, haha).


I did have some success the other day based on this post - I was scrubbing the tub (quickly!) with baby friendly cleaners and I gave him a few hotel shampoo bottles to play with on the toilet lid.  Granted, I had to still watch him pretty closely to make sure he didn't get the caps off of 'em, but it gave him something to do (that and playing with the flush handle).  He also came over to watch me for a minute.  Progress - I'll take it! winky.gif


ETA: He does pretty well playing by himself for a couple minutes - as long as I am within a few feet of him (and not doing something more interesting).  Rarely can I go out of sight for more than a second, unless he is distracted (then, I might be able to refill my coffee cup and come back! thumb.gif)

Edited by pickle18 - 4/2/12 at 8:51am
post #17 of 21
Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post

We didn't have money for a learning tower so we used a step stool with a hand bar at the top.  worked great. 

We have the exact same thing.  DS has not fallen off of it (and we've had it for 2 or so months), and even if he does he's only 2 feet off the ground.  Depends on your little one I suppose, my guy is pretty cautious.


post #18 of 21

So happy to have found this thread! I'd actually started considering daycare, which I'd been really against before, because my little angel is just making me nuts! He's just like so many of the kids on here... 18 months, into everything (!!), wants me to read to him constantly, starts to whine and cry if I try to do dishes, etc. I feel like such a slob! I hate that I have to fight to sweep, do dishes, etc... I don't particularly even *like* cleaning! It feels so silly to be bargaining with my husband for time to clean the bathtub... sometimes I'm like, oh my gosh, shouldn't I be negociating a night out at a pub or something instead? lol. It's such a relief to hear this from other women as well.


One thing I have realized is that I am way overdue for some time out alone. We are real attachment parenting people, and we're pretty much committed to me being a stay-at-home mom, we want a big family, and I do love to cook, so it all makes sense for us... but we can't forget that mamas need breaks! I have not been out by myself for more than 2 hours since DS was born - and at least half of the times I have it's been for something not at all fun, like driving lessons. So I don't know about you, but for me, looking forward to a few hours out by myself next weekend while my husband takes my place is doing wonders for my morale...


Aside from that all I really have is sympathy. I wish I'd had twins with my first pregnancy so he had somebody to help entertain him! (Oh, I know, twins are hard, but I've always loved the idea of twins, and really hoped for it when we got preggers...! Oh well!) We're going to try for #2 soon but that won't really be an entertainment solution for, say, 18 months at least, lol. :(

post #19 of 21
Originally Posted by AmyBP View Post

It feels so silly to be bargaining with my husband for time to clean the bathtub... sometimes I'm like, oh my gosh, shouldn't I be negociating a night out at a pub or something instead? lol. 

ROTFLMAO.gif  I sooo can relate, hahaha!  As soon as my husband is home, or on weekends, I'm begging for time to clean.  "Please hold or entertain him for x minutes while I vacuum/scrub the tub/etc." (and I was never a clean freak before!)


We are not to the point yet where I can negotiate some serious me-time away from the babe (without a total meltdown on his part, and major unease and guilt on mine that would, well, just negate the me-time) but I can see that we are getting there (I can disappear to get a shower, usually - yessss).  In the meantime, I try to use his naps as "me-time" to read whatever I want to (I'm a total nerd and bookworm) or get on the computer.  It's bliss!  If he is delaying a nap or we miss one, I'm frazzled.  And then I have to be "on" to listen to my husband rehash work drama as soon as he gets home, plus watch the babe??  Not a good combo - thank goodness for naps! thumb.gif


Oh, one other tip I shared on another thread (that may have been mentioned here) - I just started letting my DS play in the water if we are in the bathroom, or play with a tub full of steel-cut oats (with spoons, chopsticks, scoops, etc.) and that buys me a few more minutes (so far... winky.gif).  A blanket underneath it helps contain the mess, but it's worth it!  Kids need time to explore and get messy. (...and keeps him out of the cat food/litter!)


post #20 of 21

have things gottan better?

i am so happy to have found this post because i am going through the same thing now with my 12 month old. the tower suggestion does not work for us because,though he is walking i am not comfortable with him standing on an object yet.

sometimes i clean anyway and he cries for a couple minutes. 

the only thing that will distract him is a freshly out of the dryer load of clothes. he loves the way it feels and that buys me about 5 minutes.

im just going out of my mind though......even a quick trip to the bathroom sets panic.

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