Trying To Find Time When You Have A Toddler

For something so small, a toddler takes up a disproportionate amount of my time. I have these grand plans of being a Pinterest parent (aka doing crafts and shit), being a male version of Mary Poppins with household chores, a great husband as well as a successful freelance writer. The truth though is that I am none of these, let alone all four.

I just don’t have the bloody time. I’m usually up at 7.15am and go to bed around 11.00pm, but there’s still not enough hours in the day. I kid you not, a successful day for me involves getting us dressed, eating breakfast and lunch, getting out the house with the dog, replying to emails, getting dinner on for the missus coming home from work and ensuring there are no major injuries.

I don’t get how some parents can do it all. Let me give you an example. Yesterday, we had a washing machine delivered, so I decided to move the old one and fit the new one. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I thought I’d be able to balance installing it with watching the toddler. She was happily playing in the garden, so I cracked on with the task at hand and occasionally stuck my head around the door.

On about the eighth time of checking on her, I discovered that I should have been watching her all of the time. In front of me, I found a half-naked toddler – she’d taken off her nappy – dangling from the roof of our shed. OK, so it probably sounds worse than it is – the roof of the shed is level with our top decking – but it’s still no place for a toddler to be toddling!

Let me give another example. We’ve recently got a water and sand table for Toddler L to play with in the garden. The other day, I needed to get a post written, so I was sat inside on the sofa with laptop on knee. She was was no more than five metres away playing with the sand. Again, I kept checking on her to make sure she was OK. In the blink of an eye, she’d taken off her nappy (again) and had gone from nicely standing next to the table to actually sitting in it as she attempted to shovel sand into areas where sand shouldn’t go – if you get what I mean…

finding-time-when-you-have-a-child-toddler-sat-in-sand-pit

This kind of thing seems to happen multiple times a day, thus meaning that I get very little else done because I’m continually watching her. As I write this sentence, she’s currently standing on her play kitchen kicking the pots and pans. It’s not too bad if she’s playing in front of me or sat on the sofa watching TV, but when she’s out of view, she could be doing literally anything. It wouldn’t surprise me if she vaulted over the back wall, was riding the dog around the garden or was hot-wiring the car – all with no nappy on, obviously.

As a result of the sprog filling 95% of my time, certain things have changed around the house to save time. Since becoming parents, stuff we used to do has either been sacked off or replaced with a different time-saving method. No, I’m not talking about sex. OK, maybe I am partly.

Here’s a few things that have changed in order to try and repurpose a bit more time in the day:

Using A Dishwasher

We have always washed our dirty dishes by hand. Neither Hay or I had a dishwasher growing up, so it was just habit to stick the pots in the sink. It took us – I kid you not – over five years to use the dishwasher in our house. Now though, we use it every day and don’t wash anything by hand. We may have been late converts to the wonders of the dishwasher, but it’s certainly saved us time and effort which can be spent on Toddler L.

Time Saving: 30 minutes per day

 

Online Food Shopping

Similar to above, we always used to physically travel to the supermarket to do our food shop. We even continued to do this when the sprog was born – oh, how stupid we were. Now, our food shopping is all done online and we barely enter a supermarket. Someone brings it directly to our house, we don’t have to juggle the boring chore with a toddler and we’ve found that we actually save money. Online grocery shopping is quite competitive, so we are regularly sent money off vouchers from different supermarkets vying for our custom. Win win.

Time Saving: 2 hours per week

Kudos @Tescofood for your free fruit for kids in-store initiative. I’m excited for the roll out of the free chocolate and alcohol for parents scheme next… *hint hint*

A photo posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on

 

No More Ironing

To be fair, we both have a dislike for ironing anyway, so it didn’t take much for us to stop doing it. I just think it’s a bit pointless – my Mum and Grandma iron everything, but stuff get’s creased pretty quickly anyway. Plus, a baby creates so much washing and ironing that you feel like you’re in laundry hell. It was probably taking up 18 hours every day – OK maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. The main reason we used to iron was my work shirts, but as a stay-at-home dad, they thankfully don’t form part of my daily attire anymore. As such, the iron does very little apart from gather dust and we have more free time in slightly creased clothes.

Time Saving: 2 hours per week

 

Cooking Differently

We’ve always eaten pretty healthily – apart from the odd takeaway pizza – and this has continued since having a kid. We’ve always wanted Toddler L to eat a smaller portion of what we eat, so it makes sense that meals continue to be nutritious and healthy. However, the way we cook has changed. I’m now much more likely to chop ingredients and stick them in the slow cooker or Tefal Cook4Me rather than slave over the hob. We still get really nice, freshly-prepared meals, but we let the gadgets do the work. This means that I can be do other stuff with my time as opposed to having to stand in the kitchen.

Time Saving: 30 minutes per day

We tried something a little different for dinner tonight…

A photo posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on

 

Showering Together

Rather than have an evening bath – like she did for the first 1.5 years of her life – Toddler L now usually showers with one of us. With baths usually taking half an hour or so, we’ve found that it’s much quicker to throw her in the shower with us. As the missus comes home an hour before Toddler L’s bedtime, it doesn’t really give that much time to eat, play and relax before she heads to the Land of Nod. Therefore, the sprog usually showers with one of us in the morning to allow more time to be spent together before bed.

Time Saving: 20 minutes per day

 

Adding all of that up, that’s over 13 hours every week we can spend on other stuff. Not bad for a couple of little changes in how we do things. Have you started doing anything differently to save since becoming a parent? Or do you just have some superpower that allows you to fit everything into your day? Let me know below!

  • Donna Wishart

    I have no idea how people get stuff done with toddlers around. But yep, online food shopping has been a godsend! x

    • We don’t, that’s the issue! Tell me it gets better when they’re actual kids?! Yeah, can’t believe it took us so long.

  • Flipper73

    Really interested in the showering option, an evening bath is (in my head) such a part of Mia’s very successful evening /bedtime routine, we’re loathed to change it even though she has a pre-bath meltdown most evenings. When you changed Toddler L’s nighttime routine, did it affect her likelihood of going to sleep?

    • In all honesty, no it didn’t. L has never been a ‘bath, book, bed’ type of kid, so our routine always used to be varied, e.g. sometimes she’d have a bath, eat, play then go to bed, other times she’d not have a bath and go straight to bed after food. The no bath in an evening thing now really hasn’t made a difference. She still plays and has fun in the shower, so it’s not like we’ve taken that fun part away by losing the baths, which was something I was worried about.

      For me, the routine part is when she’s going to bed – e.g. goes upstairs to the bathroom, gets changed, teeth brushed, into her cot with comforter, say night, kiss. leave room. I think that’s what she associates with sleep so know’s what’s expected of her.

      If you were wanting to change things up, my advice would be just to give it a go for a few days. I remember reading something that it only takes 3 days to start a new routine. You could maybe even try a shower on the same day as a bath to see how she likes it, then slowly transition?

  • Yes! It’s like you’ve just written my exact day today. I wasn’t even doing anything useful, I was trying to make breakfast and boom! every satsuma fingered.

    We’ve been contemplating getting a dishwasher for ages, for the exact reasons you’ve written above. I used to wash up after every meal, but now I wash up just the once thanks to T. A dishwasher would cut this right out. We’ve already ticked the online shopping box, not to mention the slow cooker box. Saved loads.

    Great post!

    • Haha, pleased I’m not alone. It seems like as soon as you look away, something happens, meaning you can’t look away! Yeah, a dishwasher has massively helped us out. We only used to wash up once a day in the evening, but there’s something so much better about loading it up during the day then sticking it on in the evening. 🙂

  • Haha, hilare and we all take baths together here too. Online shopping is so useful, I do also like to get in and have a feel of the fruit and veg too though so we mix things up! Fab post as always and there’s never enough hours with kids hey x

  • Martina Pichova

    Tidying up as you go along doesn’t work for me anymore. If I try to do that, my daughter is making mess somewhere else at the same time. I tidy when we start treading on lego or plastic dinosaur tails.

  • RachelSwirl

    We share some of these tips to save time. We also shower together to save time and online shop too.

  • onemanandhissprog

    Welcome to the club. They just demand all of our time, don’t they? I have the additional bonus of having an early riser. At its worst I was woken from 4.30am, although now we’re always after 6am. Days and long and very involved in creative play! I’m also amazed how some, parent bloggers especially, seem to churn out masses of stuff, while apparently doing all of this stuff too. I can only assume they cheat in some way! You’ve got some good tips – I also rock the natural ‘straight out of the washing machine’ look and lots of short cuts are the norm. I can vouch that it does get a bit easier when preschool comes along with your 15 free(dom) hours!

  • Ha ha ha! I am totally feeling you! We haven’t tried the online shopping yet, or a slow cooker, but I think we should. I feel like we get hardly anything done outside making sure our three year old is not killing herself 😀

  • Michael Jones

    Great suggestions – definitely with you on the ironing. One of the great parts of SAHD-ing is not needing to wear unnecessarily smart clothing!

  • Dave, well done here. Good list.

    Your newfound joy over the dish washer has given me some healthy new perspective on just how convenient they really are. I was starting to grumble and complain lately about loading and unloading the machine but that is sure as heck better than washing dishes by hand.

    We too did online shopping for about a year or so when our son was in the heart of his toddler stage. Such an incredible help to save the hassle of making the trip to the store. Our boy is 4 now, so a little more adept at shopping with us, so we have returned back to the store. We were getting a bunch of errors and mistakes from the online shoppers and it started to undermine any of the convenience. Maybe we should consider another service and give it a shot again. I agree it is much easier to stay on budget when shopping online. No dangerous impulse purchases!