How to Get Chores Done with Kids
Whether you are a working parent or an at home working parent (because let’s face it, staying at home is still work!) the fact is that when the washing, cooking and cleaning is done, finding the time and energy to play with a bouncing toddler is a challenge.
Your little ones do need your attention though and it’s only through your guidance that they can learn about their world.
Playing and working together
Instead of compartmentalising work-time and play-time, why not play and work at the same time? Yes, it is easier said than done but even so, with a dose of patience, some of these solutions might just help you.
Washing up fun
Toddlers love water: the warmth, soap and of course the chance for mischief. It’s a sensory playground, but of course there are safety issues, you need to watch them – a challenge when you are trying to get the chores finished.
A solution is to fill up the rinsing sink with warm water when you’re washing the pans and give your toddler plastic cups and bowls to wash and play with.
You will be forming good habits from a very young age and they will love learning about water and sponges as well as spending time with mum or dad.
The downside? Washing up with a small one inevitably takes twice as long so only attempt this if you have the time and patience for it.
Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Break up your little one’s routine with a picnic lunch in the garden or on your floor in winter.
It’s pretty self-explanatory really: choose some teddies; make a bowl of chunky carrots, cucumber or whichever the flavour of the day is; bread sticks, some cheese and a bottle of water. Lay it all out and let the picnic commence. You could help your little one to divide up the food onto the plates, great practice for sharing.
Whilst your toddler is busy, you can carry on with your chores.
Pots and Pans
A one-year-old is an explorer, opening every unit, emptying every box and pulling anything and everything out.
Trying to fight this can be exhausting and also harmful to your child’s development – instead use toddler locks for all the kitchen units reserving one which they can open, shut, and pull out the contents to their heart’s content.
Fill the space with normal, safe kitchenware: pots, pans, wooden spoons and more. Just make sure there’s nothing sharp and no small parts that they can swallow. While they’re exploring their kitchen cupboard, you can cook. Don’t forget to practice your wooden spoon drumming together: great for their hand-eye co-ordination, and your inner rock chick!
18 Months – 2 years
A cunning way to have fun and tidy-up without the tears is the game, Simon Says. This is an old one but it’s good and best of all, it works! Teach your child to only do things when ‘Simon Says’. So if ‘Simon Says pick up your toys,’ they go to it, but if you say ‘Pick up your toys,’ then they more than likely won’t.
This one is great for building listening and comprehension skills. Be warned though it could back fire, you may find yourself saying ‘Simon Says…’ before every command and request for years to come!
The healthy snack assembly line
Gather bowls of ingredients in a row, then help your toddler make the recipe. Yoghurt and muesli, for example, would need a bowl of muesli, fruit and some yoghurt.
This works best at lunch time, when you’re both feeling fresh. A super organised mum who’s working out of the house could do this in the morning before nursery – if this is a step too far though, you will be forgiven!
Forget the dull daily work-out and set up a virtual obstacle course with your little one. Why not pretend that the rug or the carpet is the sea. Scatter cushions, or pieces of fabric, around then tell your toddler that you cannot get your feet wet. To cross the sea you both have to jump across the stepping stones/cushions.
This is great for their balance and a lot more fun for you than the same old work-out.
While making packed lunches for the siblings, yourself and the other half, ask your toddler to share out simple things like grapes and pre-cut chunks of cheese. This is a good way to practice sharing and counting plus it gets little ones involved in the kitchen early on.
Having a dressing up session can be great fun! If you haven’t seen your toddler all day, this game is a great way to reconnect; and if you’ve been together all day it’s a great way to step away from the daily cooking/ cleaning grind to laugh and play with your little one.
Making a fort
This one is a bit of a stretch, but if you have emails to catch up then consider making a ‘fort’ with chairs and a spare sheet. Take in some snacks, toys, a pretend laptop and your real laptop.
Once your toddler loses interest in you, which they often do, you can clear the inbox as they play with their computer and toys. Role-playing is a fantastic way to build their creative development.
Looking after your little one and doing the chores can be fun. With these ideas, you can let your child build necessary skills whilst both bonding and you are still able to complete your chores!