By Sarah Mueller, Contributing Writer
Do you ever feel like you can’t get anything done while caring for a baby or young child?
Do you miss the days when you could spend an entire morning organizing a space, doing a craft project, painting a room, or even just balancing your checkbook?
Maybe you even avoid starting projects in the first place because you feel like you can never finish up before your kids need you?
Kids will usually occupy themselves for only so long and all of a sudden, they’ll need something from you – a drink, an answer to a pressing question, or you’ll have to break up a sibling squabble.
Then you’ll have to put down your paintbrush or step away from your computer and try to pick up your work again later. Interruptions, even from children whom you love dearly, can be very frustrating if you’re trying to finish a task.
Sometimes you have to choose whether to do a project at all or to do it with kids underfoot. Since I have 4 homeschoooled kids, my kid-free hours are few and far between. I’ve had to learn to manage the distractions in order to get things done.
I have found that I can get things done; it’s just required some adjustments on my part.
5 tips for how to get things done even with young kids around:
- Prep the kids beforehand. I’ll let the kids know my plans upfront. I might offer snacks or potty breaks. I’ll spend a little extra time with the littlest one.
- Pick an end time. It’s helpful for me and the kids to know how long they will need to leave me alone. If they know mom’s work time ends in an hour, it’s easier for them to wait for me.
- Have a plan before you start. This might mean checking ingredients and collecting recipes in advance of a freezer cooking session. It might mean making a quick checklist of the homeschool papers to check. Then when the time comes, you can zip through the tasks you’ve planned.
- Remove other distractions. Put away your phone, close your email app, and stay away from Pinterest and Facebook! Unnecessary distractions like these can eat up your productive time in a heartbeat!
- Break your project up into small pieces. This is the most important tip of all – instead of thinking you have to do an entire project in one shot, list each step and do them one by one as you have time.
If you break them up, large tasks can be accomplished in bite-sized pieces with plenty of room to tend to the baby or kids. With some advance planning and a shift in your mindset, you don’t have to avoid these kinds of projects.
Initially you might not like having to change the way you work while still taking care of your kids.
But the satisfaction when you accomplish things on your to-do list may convince you it’s worthwhile.
Whether you’re working part-time from home (here’s how to find more time to work at home) or just want to do an extra task or two, give these tips a try. You might just feel a little bit like Supermom when you’re done!
What is your best tip for working on something while your kids are around?
I have 5 daughters and the last just started to kindergarten. I love to sew and I found that giving them things to play with in my sewing room worked out well. You would be surprise where kids imaginations go with fabric. The crockpot is my friend and I also use a timer or and a music playlist when I am cleaning…for some reason they can color, write or play easier without the TV.
Anna @ Feminine Adventures
I so agree about the TV. Like all kids I know, my children love anything that appears on a screen, but their imagination almost instantly plummets….making it a bad babysitter imo!
When I’m busy with the project, the older kids play outside, read, and/or color. The one-year-old just switched to one nap, so that’s made it more tricky, but I’m working on training him to play on a blanket for (short) stretches. He gets toys and board books but needs to stay on the blanket. Even knowing he’s set for 15 minutes helps get a short project underway or a bit of schoolwork with the older kids started.
I wish I had read this article six years ago. I found all of this out the hard way (aka the best teacher). One thing that I did learn quickly, and could say till I am blue in the face to anyone who will listen is get rid of stuff! Clutter is the enemy of the home sanctuary. Of course I am not talking about living clutter, like on-going projects, toys and things that are regularly in motion. I am talking about stagnant clutter that ways us down with it’s demand for space and maintenance. It might have even have been living clutter at one time.
Donate it, sell it, reassess it often. This has made it possible for me to save so much sanity with my boys, especially homeschooling and being a full-time parent here at home. Even when finances are really tight I have never regretted being on the leaner side in that aspect of our lives, and it helps me to not seek that feeling of abundance in things instead of the abundance in my life. And a little color goes a long way.
I meant “weighs”, sorry!
I feel that prepping the kids is the most important way to get stuff done with kids around. If everyone has a drink, snack and a couple activities they can do without me I am able to work longer with out interruptions.
Although I do think these are great tips, I am disappointed that they seem better suited for those with slightly older children (not toddlers and babies, as the title of the article would suggest). I have a very young three year old and a 17 month old, and there is no way I could prep them and tell them I needed an hour to work on something. I will keep these tips in mind as my kids get older, but it would be great if you had more useful ideas for while they are both still very young and need a lot of attention.
That’s a really great post idea, Nina! Thanks for the suggestion!
I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old.
Bringing out blocks on a blanket or finding other open ended okay toys will keep them busy for a bit.
Aside from that, you can “include” them (i.e. A damp rag to “clean the kitchen” while you’re finishing dishes or cooking a meal) sometimes we just need to take breaks and give them our attention! It’s about balance.(:
These are great tips! I have tried to do most of them, but I have yet to try using an end time! Will be attempting with my three year old soon. Thanks so much for sharing!