Keep Toddlers Busy While You're Doing Chores

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Lynn, Eng, MsBarbs and 4 others

Assuming the dual roles of babysitter and housekeeper can be a challenge unless you know how to keep toddlers busy while you're doing chores. Many home-based parents feel that working from home is an ideal situation for raising their growing children. It allows parents to attend to the needs of the children and perform basic house chores, however, things do not always happen as planned, especially if you have toddlers under your care. They require close supervision because they seem to be everywhere at once. You never know what they're up to the moment you turn your eyes away from them.

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Toddler years are a time of great physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development. It's because of this that toddlers are a curious lot, wanting to learn new things, so they spend their waking hours playing, eating, and creating mayhem. Your most time-consuming task is simply keeping an eye on them, and running after them. If you find yourself neglecting housework due to the need to take care of your mini cyclone, now is the time to figure out how you can keep your kids occupied while getting someone of your chores done.

Balance Housework and Toddler Care

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    Make a to-do list
    The little time you can manage to spare on your housework may not be enough to finish what needs to be done. To fully maximize your time, create a schedule around the activities of your toddler. For example, if the child regularly sleeps during a certain time of the day, schedule in that time an activity that usually takes longer to complete, like doing the laundry.
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  2. 2
    Teach the toddler to understand your schedule
    Create a visual guide to allow your kid to see how you divide your time between housework and taking care of him. Use different colors to help him identify the time frame allotted for him and for doing chores. Make it easy for him to see that you are devoting most of your time to him, but that you still need some of that time to attend to housework.
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  3. 3
    Prioritize chores
    Focus on tasks that need your immediate attention, like washing the dirty dishes or cleaning up after any pets. Clean the Windows and scrub the bathroom tiles when there's an extra eye to look after the toddler.
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Things to Do Before You Leave the Child to Attend to Your Chores

  1. 1
    Make the environment safe
    Depending on the age of your toddler, you can create a safe space to allow him more freedom to move around. Very young toddlers are better kept within self-contained areas where they can perform basic play actions, like jumping and rolling over.
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  2. 2
    Secure the premises
    You can never be too complacent in thinking that you've made the environment safe enough for your child. Thinking that your child is safely locked in the secured area is naive. You may be suddenly surprised to see him right behind you. For your peace of mind, childproof everything that needs to be locked and keep hazards out of reach of your toddler. Toddlers are great escape artists.
    • They are able to scale down the crib, no matter how you secure it.
    • They can get past through safety gates, and insert their tiny bodies through the smallest openings.
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  3. 3
    Keep the video or audio baby monitor in the room, and have the receiver by your side at all times
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  4. 4
    Provide safe age-appropriate toys
    Make sure that only safe toys are with the toddler when he is alone in the secured area.
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  5. 5
    Be sure to check on your child frequently
    Don't leave the toddler for long. Your temporary freedom may overwhelm you and you may be tempted to use it as an opportunity to do other chores that can make you linger much longer away from the child. If you expect something will take a long time, find ways to set up a contained area near you.
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After containing the child in a safe place, you're now ready to step out of his sight to perform your household duties, but not for too long.

Entertain Your Child While You Try to Catch up on Your Housework

  1. 1
    Turn on the television
    This doesn't mean making the TV set a surrogate mother for your child, even if you wish it was possible. An amusing cartoon will often keep the toddler transfixed on the couch for a brief period. Choose age-appropriate movies that you're sure the kid will like, but don't get too comfortable with your momentary independence. Check on your toddler from time to time to see if his silence means something else.
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  • 2
    Bring out special toys
    Reserve some toys that he can only play with when you leave him for a while to do housework. If you let him play with the same old toys, the notorious short attention span may get the better of him and cause him to explore outside the safe zone. Allowing him to play with special toys makes him feel you're giving him new playthings.
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  • 3
    Turn on the child's favorite music
    As you see the child enjoying the beat, join his sound trip by dancing and singing with him.
    • If the toddler doesn't get up on his feet to dance along with you, that's because he's too entertained by your antics.
    • No matter how crazy it is, you'll still be thankful you're able to finish doing your chores.
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  • 4
    Find the toddler a playmate
    If you don't have other children, try inviting a friend's child over to act as playmate. This time, you need to double-check their safety more than ever. You have not one but two children in your house, and that makes you responsible for both of them. However, you may actually accomplish your tasks based on the fact that children become less dependent when they are in the company of peers. All of a sudden, your toddler acts as if he doesn't need you, until he realizes he's hungry.
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  • 5
    Involve the child in housework
    This doesn't mean enslaving your child to do regular housework like scrubbing the floor, or bathing the pet. You can ask the toddler to pass the clothespins, return the toys to the bin, or align the books on the lower shelf. Just remember to pick safe household chores for your kids that are age and ability appropriate.
    • It may take the child longer to follow instructions, but he or she will be proud of their accomplishments, especially if you're generous with praise and encouragement.
    • In the end, the child often enjoys the activity and learns something from it.
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  • Tips

    • Appreciate the little chores your toddler does when you involve him in housework. He will be more likely to offer help every time he sees you working.
    • Don't try finish all the tasks. People will readily understand even if the house is in chaos...and if they don't, get them to take your place for a day.
    • Older toddlers may resist being confined to a small space and demand a larger area. In order not to deprive this basic need, provide more room for the child to explore, but only if you're able to secure off danger zones like the kitchen or stairs.
    • Install baby gates to prevent them from crossing over the space given to them.


    • Make sure baby gates are tall enough. If they're not, your toddler will scale the fence, as if he's in basic training.

    Questions and Answers

    How to care for the children during chores?

    I need to learn how to care for the children during chores.

    Several of the tips mentioned in this VisiHow article are great to entertain your children while doing chores. Something I do is assign a task to my children while I am cleaning. Such as my 8 year old will wipe down the bathroom while my 6 year old wipes fingerprints off the walls. This keeps my children engaged and gives them a sense of pride when they help out Mommy.

    In the kitchen, my 6 year old loves to cook with me so I let her find the ingredients and measure any dry ingredients. If we are making meatballs or meatloaf, I put dish gloves on her and let her mix the ingredients.

    If you have small children, a laundry basket and some facecloths can make a 2 year old use their imagination. Mine would sit in the laundry basket and pretend to be driving a car or rowing a boat and as they grew older, they loved folding items like facecloths and towels.

    Throw some shaving cream in the bathtub and have your small child "clean" the tub and shower stall with the shaving cream.

    Have a sock party. I have a small bucket where all the socks without pairs go in when I am doing laundry. Once a month my children sit at the table and I dump out all the socks and they play a matching game. The one with the most pairs of socks gets first choice of a snack or treat item.

    The biggest thing to remember is that children always want to have or do what you say "no" to. It is their way of learning independence. Embrace them under your feet while you are doing chores by keeping them busy helping out. Even if it is something small, your kids will not only learn a task, but also will appreciate the time they are spending with you.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


    Article Info

    Categories : Parenting

    Recent edits by: Nuance, Inukshuk, Maria Quinney

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