We’ve all been there – a gorgeous toddler (maybe an older sibling or two), all loved by our friends and relatives who often drop in to visit.
Sadly, we panic that our visitors must think we are awful parents because the house is littered with abandoned toys, biscuit crumbs, unwashed pots and spillages.
If that’s you, stop now! It’s terrible for your mental health and your stress won’t do you, your toddler or the rest of your family any good at all.
Take a deep breath and try some of the ideas below. They just might help to relieve the anxiety.
Babies and toddlers are experts in depriving their parents of sleep. Research has found that sleep deprivation causes parents to look sadder and use less expression when they speak to their tots.
Zombies make terrible parents and are hopeless at cleaning up. If you can’t get your little one to sleep through the night, accept all offers of babysitting or opportunities for extra sleep you can get.
Seize, with both hands, any opportunities you have to sleep – sleep when your tot sleeps and it will give you the energy to play and do a little tidying up now and then.
Get your Toddler to Help
Your toddler adores being with you, whatever you are doing. He or she wants to copy your actions, share in your emotions and understand your routines – the complete opposite of what they will want to do as a teenager. Act quickly now to get them into great habits and doing the housework alongside you.
Buy them a little sweeping brush, find them a duster, get them to wash and dry the dishes with you, even emptying the washing machine with you. This approach might take you longer to get the housework done, but at least you’ll be doing it together.
You won’t be arrested for being a neglectful parent if you put your toddler in a playpen with toys, sit them in a highchair with finger food, or play them a downloaded movie while you clean.
As long as your toddler can see you, and you can see and hear them, it’s fine. They need some independent time while you get a little bit of housework done. Sit them in the kitchen while you load the laundry, place them in the living room while you are doing the dusting or plonk them in playpen while you put the hoover on.
Small habits can make a big difference. Before you crawl up to bed at night, wipe the kitchen worktops down and spend no more than 5 minutes doing it.
That way, you’ll wake to clean surfaces in the morning. Do it 12 times and you will have formed a habit.
While you are waiting for the kettle to boil, wipe the hob or rinse items in the sink.
Make your washing loads smaller and use quick washing cycles more often and they will take less time to empty and set out to dry.
And you’ll get more time with baby!
Lower Your Expectations
Accept that babies and children are messy. You cannot have an immaculate house with toddlers around!
Germs are great for children’s immune systems. Studies have shown that ‘good’ household germs and dirt are good for children and can lessen their chances of suffering some infections or allergies later in life.
Healthy habits such as regularly washing hands and faces, keeping clean and eating well, will ensure your child grows up healthy, happy and confident.
Children grow up too fast.
Will you regret failing to keep your house immaculate? Or will you wish you had spent more time with your children?
Only ‘super’ parents or those with cleaners have perfectly clean and tidy and homes. Having young children is not about immaculate living space – it is about spending precious time together.
It is about giving your toddler as much positive attention as you can, whilst nurturing, having fun together, exploring the world, learning, laughing and loving each other. No-one really cares if you haven’t hoovered up, wiped the stain off the cupboard doors or done the washing up. Really, they don’t!
Worrying about having a clean house causes unnecessary anxiety and is bad for your mental health. One of the teacher’s best tools when working with the youngest of children is the declaration “Tidy Up Time!” It really does work!
Make tidying fun – put on the timer, play their favourite energetic music while you tidy the room together. Then, have a huge hug and tell your children how wonderful they are!