Ever feel you can just never be productive with a toddler in the house? Even on the most productive days, it can be hard to get things done when you have a little one.
Raising toddlers takes a lot of our time and attention. Some days, it leaves little time for anything else.
Though we all have unproductive days, it doesn’t have to be the norm. Even if you have a stage-5 clingy toddler!
Believe it or not, with a few well placed strategies, you can get quite a lot done in your day.
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Getting Things Done With A Toddler
If you’re anything like me, you probably love to have productive days. I know I personally am always having a better day when I’m able to get a lot checked off my to do list.
Of course, not all days are created equal in the productive department. Some days I’m able to get a ton knocked off my list, while other days I’m doing good to check just one thing off.
I’ve found that part of the problem is simply how I measure my productivity. And I’m willing to bet the same is true for you!
While we like to measure productivity based on our tangible to do list, the reality is that motherhood is filled with tasks with intangible results. Results we may not even see for years to come.
You go it—I’m talking about the every day things we do that shape our kids into the future adults they will become. And it’s time to redefine our productivity to include those all important things.
Loving your kids, feeding them, teaching them, playing with them, interacting with them. All these things are critical in raising our kids. But so often, we don’t give them the same importance that we do washing dishes or tackling the laundry.
So even while you’re trying to complete your to do list, keep in mind that you are still doing important work even if nothing gets checked off. It’s okay to set the list aside and take time to invest in your family.
How To Be More Productive With A Toddler
Okay, keeping in mind that it is absolutely possible to be productive without it showing up on your list, let’s talk about that to do list.
While I fully think we need to start viewing productivity differently, I also understand that at some point certain things need to be done.
Dishes eventually need to be washed. Laundry will inevitably need to be washed, folded, and put away. Sooner or later you’ll need to cook dinner.
While the intangible tasks of motherhood hold more importance than we give them credit for, there are other things that eventually need to be done as well.
I understand that. So for the rest of this post, we’re going to focus some strategies to help you get things done while raising a toddler.
I wanted to focus specifically on productivity with toddlers because it’s a bit different that when you just have a baby. How you get things done with a baby is quite a bit different than with a toddler.
Toddlers sleep less, and frequently require more intentional attention than when they were little. Babies don’t have a million questions to ask, and are often content to just be with you.
With that in mind, here are a few strategies to help you be more productive with a toddler in tow.
Get into a routine
One of the most productive habits you can develop as a mom is to get into a good routine. It may sound too simple to be true, but it really will make a difference.
Routines prevent you from wasting valuable time figuring out what to do next. They keep your day simple and predictable. Over time, you’ll find yourself getting things done quicker, and having to think less while doing it.
Muscle memory is quickly built when you get into a routine. Over time, this lessens your mental load, and things move along quicker.
I started working on a routine when my son was a baby. Over time our daily routine has changed and shifted as needed. As he grows, both our needs change, and so our routine shifts with that change.
In all seasons of motherhood, it’s been a constant that has helped me to be more productive.
Start with a simple morning routine. Honestly, if you don’t have any other routine, at least have a morning one.
Morning routines get you up and going, providing a solid start to your day. Even if that’s all you can do, it’ll make a big difference in the rest of your day!
Have set times to play and times to get things done
Over the course of your day, make sure to have times set for both play and productivity.
Everyone wants to get things done, but too often we overload ourselves. In an effort to get it all done, we spend every waking moment working on our to do list.
However, all work and no play often leads to a lack of productivity. And an unhappy mom and toddler.
Set specific times in your routine to play and times to get things done. When it’s play time, be intentional about giving your full attention to your toddler.
I know it’s hard to play sometimes, but doing so will be extremely beneficial for your toddler. And when your toddler has had intentional, one on one time with you, he’ll be far more likely to give you time to do the things you need to do.
Of course, it’s not realistic to play all day. Instead of trying to put it off, spend intentional time with your child, then intentional time working on your to do list.
Ultimately, you’ll get far more done when your focus is not divided.
Utilize independent play
Look, I think you should make time to play with your toddler. But I also believe in independent play.
Too often I think we get stuck doing one or the other, but not both. Either we refuse to play entirely, or we get sucked into being our child’s constant playmate. Neither option was meant to be.
Playing with your child is a great way to get in that one on one time. It’s beneficial for your child, and your relationship with them.
But keep in mind that you’re also the parent. It’s okay to say no sometimes so that you can do some other things. And that’s where independent play comes in.
I know I often feel guilty when I make Elijah play alone, but the truth is that independent play is very beneficial for kids. It stimulates their creativity and imagination.
Often, toddlers learn a lot when they play independently. This is a great time for them to practice motor skills and experiment with their abilities.
Don’t worry if your toddler complains about being bored during independent play time. Being bored is actually beneficial, and it likely will not last long.
If you truly feel your toddler needs something to do during independent play time, try setting up a sensory bin for him to explore. I often do this when Elijah doesn’t want to play by himself but I am unable to play right then.
Involve your toddler
Alternatively, you could make the effort to involve your toddler whenever possible. This is a great way to spend time together and still get things done.
Lately, Elijah has been “helping” me fold the laundry on the weekend. I’ll admit that right now he’s not a lot of help, but he tries.
For now I have him finding all the socks, and he’s slowly working on learning to match the socks as well. It’s a small task, but it keeps him busy and learning to help me.
Sometimes to be productive, you’ve just got to learn how to involve your toddler. If you’re cleaning on a given day, why not give them a small task to help you out?
Give them a toddler size broom or mop and let them help you. Even if doesn’t end up being much help, it will likely thrill them to be involved.
It’s often worth letting your toddler help even if it takes a toll on your productive level. Remember, the earlier you teach your child to help, the better.
The minor inconvenience of teaching will pay off immensely before long.
Include chores in your toddler’s day
Alright, this may not be popular with everyone, but one way to get more done is to include chores in your toddler’s day. Just be sure that the chores are age appropriate for toddlers.
Simple chores such as getting dressed, making their bed, cleaning up their toys, and cleaning up their messes are small tasks most toddlers can learn to do on their own.
While these things may seem insignificant, it frees up small spaces of time that add up over time. Instead of picking up toys, you can use that time to do a little cleaning or fold some laundry.
Even just a few small chores for your toddler will free up enough time for you to be more productive. The time invested in teaching them to do each chore will pay off immensely.
How productive are you with a toddler?
Being productive while raising a toddler can definitely be a challenge! But I think it’s possible, when you’re intentional with your time and parenting.
Leave a comment and let me know what you struggle with most when it comes to getting things done as a mom of a toddler. Or do you have a system figured out to help you get things done?
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