How to get chores done when you have young kids at home
Posted February 5
Before you have kids, it seems so easy to get a load of laundry in, mop the floor or wash the windows. With small kids underfoot, however, the simplest chores seem almost impossible at times. The following tips will help you keep things under control, even if your schedule means that chores always have to be combined with taking care of your wonderful little 24-hour need machines.
Lower your standards
The first and most important step to staying sane as a busy mom is deciding what you can let go. This can be applied to all areas of your life, but is more important than ever when it comes to household chores. Some chores don’t matter very much, and a few don’t matter at all. As long as everything is clean enough to be hygienic and tidy enough that you don’t actually lose any of the kids under the debris, you’re doing fine.
Break it up
Before you had kids maybe you had a specific day for cleaning. Forget that. You won’t have a whole day to clean for quite some time. Break your household chore time up into manageable chunks. If you can find thirty or forty minutes a day, most days, that will be enough. Just prioritize what needs doing and then fit the top priority job into the thirty or forty minutes you can find.
Work in fun around the errands
Any parent who has spent a whole day running errands with kids in tow will tell you this. You need to work some fun in. It can be stopping off at the park near the grocery store, grabbing a hot chocolate at the café next to the dry cleaners or buying a one dollar treat at the candy store on the way home from the dentist (yes, I see the irony there). Just don’t plan boring errand after boring errand all day. Neither you nor the kids will make it through the day without a meltdown.
Invest in a sling
One of the many advantages of ‘babywearing’ is that babies rarely fuss or cry when they’re in a sling. This makes it the perfect place to put them while you dust, sweep, vacuum, wash windows, do yard work or almost anything else.
Let them help
When they’re very little their help will really slow you down, but it will make them happy and you’ll still achieve something. Water is fascinating for little ones, so washing dishes, washing the car and watering plants will be particularly popular.
You can teach kids as young as two to help as long as they think it’s a game. Throwing all the toys back in the toy box at the end of the day can be a game. Throwing clothes in the laundry hamper as you take them off can be a game, too. Matching socks and making piles of laundry based on which family member it belongs to? Definitely a game.
Unfortunately, many kids lose interest in helping around the house just as they start to actually become useful. But keep pushing it. According to Psychology Today kids who regularly help with household chores have better outcomes in life.
Do the hardest jobs at nap time
Ideally, nap time for your kids should be rest time for you, but it often seems impossible to rest, when there’s so much to do. If you have a chore that’s particularly challenging to get done with the kids around, you’ll probably find you feel less stressed when they wake up if you just get it done while they’re asleep. But just do that one thing. Then take some guilt-free mommy-time.
Always have something to do while they nap
Maybe nap time doesn’t happen at home for you. Maybe nap time happens while you’re out and about, in the car seat or in the stroller while you’re getting from point A to point B. Unfortunately, kids often tend to go to sleep just as we arrive somewhere that requires us to get them out of the car seat or stroller. We’ve all sat there stewing, wanting to get on with the weekly shop, but not wanting to move junior and cause an overtired tantrum.
If you can, use nap time on-the-go efficiently. There are apps you can put on your phone that can help with everything from paying bills, to online shopping and managing your to-do list. Or simply use the time to make an important phone call. Or gather your thoughts and plan out the next day.
Life changes when you have kids, and so does the way we get things done. Often fitting your chores, and your day, around your kids can work much better than trying to make your kids fit in with your chores.
Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website http://www.karenbanes.com/.or via Twitter where she tweets as @KarenBanes.