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How to Balance Housework and Taking Care of a Toddler

by Rosenya Faith, studioD

Between playtime, mealtime, snack time and learning activities, your toddler might not leave you with much time for anything else. Motherhood is a wonderful experience but it certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. And if your child hasn't given up her afternoon nap already, it probably won't be long before there will be no more squeezing housework into that precious afternoon hour. Now is a good time to start figuring out how to efficiently balance housework with taking care of a toddler.

Create a schedule. While you could probably squeeze housework into all your extra minutes of the day before children, your toddler is probably occupying most of those free minutes. To maximize your cleaning efficiency and make sure you're getting the most important stuff done first, write out a list of what needs to be done and make a schedule of cleaning activities for the week.

Make a visual schedule of each day's events to help your toddler understand that you'll be busy during your scheduled cleaning times. Use stickers or colorful drawings to fill in the time blocks of the schedule. For example, use stickers of toys for times that are designated play times and food stickers for mealtimes. During the short blocks of time that you'll be busy with housework, use stickers of vacuums, mops, dishes or a washing machine to show your toddler what's going on. It will also help her to see that the time you are busy with housework is very small in comparison to the times you are available for learning and play activities.

Involve your child in the housework to keep her from fussing when it's time to get chores done. While she's not ready to scrub out the oven or wash Dad's socks, she can help you dust, put toys away in the toy box or sweep with a miniature broom. While it might take a little longer, she'll be content to work with you and proud of her accomplishments when the two of you are done. Housework can even be an educational task for your child. You can have her help you separate laundry to introduce colors and stack bath towels, hand towels and facecloths according to size.

Lower your expectations and don't worry about passing the white glove test. Focus on the stuff that needs to be done -- like the dirt ring in the bathtub or the sink full of dirty dishes -- and put chores, such as dusting the ceiling fixtures and keeping the windows squeaky clean lower on the priority list. Remember that there's no reason to cry over spilled milk -- it will still be there for you to clean up tomorrow.

Items you will need
  •  Stickers of toys, food and cleaning supplies
  •  Miniature broom


  • For the Love of Children -- Childcare and Child Rearing, 0-16 years; Anna Wahlgren
  • 1,2,3 ...The Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers; Irene Van der Zande, et al.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images