Every mother simultaneously looks forward to and dreads the time when her child grows up and leaves the nest. It’s the cycle of life. Some leave at 18. And some parents wish the growing and leaving could start a little sooner. Like maybe at 12 months. Certain parts of life become much harder as a parent—like cleaning with kids.
Okay so a one-year-old can’t leave the nest, but her mom might just be pleading for a detachment from her own hip. Velcro babies can make your mama bird heart swoon. For about 48 hours. Then you notice the chores list keeps getting longer, the drive-through meals are making your stomach churn, and the dust layers on your bookshelf are getting a little thicker.
Eventually, you have to come to terms with the fact you have a very dependent (pronounce that as “loving”) child and like all parenting obstacles, you will adapt and overcome. And we’re here to help you tackle cleaning with kids.
5 Ways to Master Cleaning With Kids
Wear Your Child
Don’t let your kid wear you out, wear them instead. There are several different brands of baby carriers, such as the backpack style—we love the Baby Tula—or the one giant loop of fabric like a Moby Wrap. Carriers can safely keep your baby close and happy while keeping your hands free to chop vegetables, vacuum or help another, more independent kid, with their homework.
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Many carriers are able to hold a child up to 3 years old, so if this method works for you and your child, chances are you will be able to make it last until they outgrow their attachment stage. And then when they decide they need to be clingy again.
Turn Laundry into a Game
Instead of pushing your child away every time they get close to the basket of clean clothes, let them be a part of the process. Sit on the floor and play peekaboo as you wave the shirt free of wrinkles. Then quickly fold and set aside while they are distracted by giggles. Or let them sit in the basket next to you with a bunch of warm socks fresh from the dryer as you sort and fold the rest of the laundry. By cleaning with kids around, you’ll teach them independence and how to do these chores.
Move the Playpen Outside
There’s something about the breeze and simple sunshine that often calms a baby. If the layout of your home allows, put your baby in the playpen, fill it with favorite books, and toys and move it just outside a back window or sliding door for a little while. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen or drag out the giant umbrella. This way you both can still see each other, but you are able to eat in peace, clean the dishes, or get to some of that layer of dust. Plus, a little dose of Vitamin D is always a bonus.
Indoor Blanket Picnic
Turn mealtime prep into a fun indoor picnic. Lay a comfortable blanket out for your baby on the kitchen floor and let them play with safe utensils like a ladle, wooden spoon, or a spatula. Play with them for the first few minutes to explain how to interact with the “toys” while they still have your undivided attention. Then get up slowly and keep talking while you work. They’ll get to watch you in action and possibly even imitate your moves, too. Who knows, you might be inspiring a future chef.
Turn the Other Cheek
Sometimes, there are days when you realize this sweet, albeit occasionally annoying, stage won’t last forever, so soak it in. Stop glancing at the pile of dishes and give all your attention to the smiling face and the tiny hands gripping at your ankles. Because no matter how well you clean, the dust will always come back, dishes will clog the dishwasher and one day, your baby won’t ask to be held. And trust us, you’re going to miss it.
So try these tips out when you find yourself frustrated because you’re cleaning with kids around. But ultimately, don’t stress. Besides, even if none of these methods work for you every velcro baby has to go to sleep, eventually. And if one thing can wait, it’s cleaning.
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