1)Plan Toddler activities in advance!
After the first hour of activity tell your little one, this is your time. You get to paint a picture all by yourself. They might come and look for you initially but return them to their play place and repeat the expression ‘this is your time.’ (I created a little office for my busy toddler near where I work so that she is still close by.) Ensure that you are prepared for that hour of activity, prepare a little snack for your little one so they won’t need to come and find you. I’ve outlined some simple activities below just to give you an idea:
2) Stop cooking!
Make sandwiches – Chicken salad (chicken mayo) filler can be made on sunday and last the entire week so peanut butter and jam/ cheese do not have to be the only options.
Keep it simple; through keeping dinner meals simple, you can reduce preparation time and even reduce time you spend paying attention to a making a meal. I listed some simple ideas below:
– steamed potato/ sweet potato & carrots in garlic, cilantro & butter with drumsticks (season the drumsticks with salt, pepper and herbs then just chuck in the oven for 30 minutes and at the last 15 minutes throw a bit of Barbeque sauce on them.)
– frozen pizza night – most frozen pizzas take about fifteen minutes to cook
-chicken korma and nan bread (buy the bread in advance and store in the freezer) after you stir-fry the chicken breasts with the onion put it into the oven to slow cook, or put it in your slow cooker and set the timer, so you can just leave it to cook, toss the nan in the oven closer to when you actually want to eat.
-pitta bread & chicken stirfry (teriyaki chicken breasts with baby spinach) or veg stirfry , this can be done in a slow cooker as well. Chicken breasts cook a bit faster than boned chicken.
– chicken in a bag, a lot of grocers sell oven bags – effectively this is really a casserole, pop chicken and potatoes and carrots in a bag and just chuck in the oven.
– english beef stew – use the oven or a slow cooker to reduce the time you have to pay attention to it.
-have some frozen meals as back up options, some frozen chips and nuggets, pasta, just keep something in the freezer for those nights when you really can’t be bothered to cook!
3) Work during nap time – Ignore all house work and tidying up. That nap time will fly so use it, use it, use it!
4) Tidy up with your toddler – Teaching your toddler to tidy up after themself will help you in the long term especially as your little one grows up, as shocking as this may seem- teenage years and tidiness do not go hand in hand. Don’t over complicate it though, too many instructions can be hard for them to comprehend. Have a box that all the toys go back into. And of course have a catchy song, Time to tidy up, time to tidy up, bye bye messy mess – you’ll think of something. Mothers are nothing short of creative. Eventually your toddler will return their toys to the toy box on their own.
5) Haha, now how exactly do you get the house work done? Easy – do it with your toddler. Let them help you sort the laundry, let them help you put the clothes in the laundry. You’d be amazed how accomplished they feel when they pop some laundry in the wash. Give them a couple dishes to stack in the dishwasher, or if you’re washing by hand cut a little sponge for them, set them on the sink next to you and give them a couple plastic cups to wash. When I’m cooking roti or making bread, I give my little one a bowl with flour mix, semi doughy with a little oil and she mixes away. She loves the activity and the texture. Her face beams from doing something grown up and she’s come a long way since her messy days. My husband and I repeated the expression ‘take your time and be careful’ and the mess is fairly minimal now. Also since she has wiped up her own spills, if she does make a little mess, I simply give her a wipe and we tidy it up together. Sweeping, mopping and hoovering generally occur when my toddler goes up for bath time – her dad does bath time.
6) Let your partner get more involved, if your partner normally works late – request that they come in once a week to do bath time and bed time routine. This gives you more time to catch up on your work. As well as it will demonstrate to your toddler that daddies do bath time too and increase their bond.
7) Set aside time, the reality is when you cut that time out of your day and say this time if for this activity, you end up allocating that time both mentally and physically.
8) Hire help, help doesn’t have to be a professional nanny or au pair. It can be a teenager from down the block. Sometimes all your little one needs is for someone to run around with them. Hire someone still in highschool/ secondary school (place an add on the school bulletin board and of course have interviews) and have them come around for an hour two days a week, firstly with you so you can show them what to do, as well as take time to introduce your child to this person, see how they interact with your toddler and allow your child the right to reject this person.