Question: My problem is that there’s no obvious answer to what you’re meant to do with the toddlers when you’re scrubbing the floor! Answers anyone? [or more literally, how do we entertain our kids while other chores require our attention so that we cannot directly entertain them?]
Answer: This is a great question! (and one I constantly have to work and re-evaluate as the kids change in their development and ability to help!). You may already do a lot of these things as I know Johnny is really good at cleaning up after himself and playing with one or two toys at a time.
Thus, this may or may not be helpful for you (or what you were thinking of in the question), but if we are on the same page, I have several thoughts for how I’ve personally decided to deal with this
-First, pray and ask for wisdom. The Lord gives generously without reproach and I know he wants to help you in this situation of training your children and nurturing the peacefulness of your home. Also, find some women you admire and ask their wisdom. I’ve personally asked older, more experienced women whom I admire their thoughts on this topic and I think whenever we imitate others who have already succeeded, then it wonderfully eliminates us using trial and error on our own. ☺
-Second, I think it’s good to develop a realistic perspective of cleaning house and training our children. I think i sinfully made an idol (and still do at times) of wanting my house to be perfectly clean. I wanted people to think i had it all together. However, in this season of nurturing young children, it probably isn’t the time where things will be spotless ( or to set our expectations of it to be) and people can pop in unannounced and see a sparkly clean home. That’s not realistic or helpful. I read this post this morning and think it helps to clarify our expectation as mums of young children. It is a bit more blunt, but clarifies what we have been called to serve in our role with younger children: http://www.feminagirls.com/2013/03/19/march-15-running-the-race/
-Third, Consider fun ways to get your child involved. Augustine loves running the clothes to me from the laundry basket and throwing it in the washer. We make it a game and see how fast he can do it- Jane even likes to participate. Augustine can help “wash” the windows with baby wipes while I vacuum the room in which he is working on the windows. Sometimes I let him attempt to vacuum too. The more we make the tasks fun and continue to patiently teach them how to do it, the more likely they are to do it on their own in due time. Here’s a chart that might be helpful to evaluate what age appropriate chores they can help you with:
-Fourth, Consider directing your children to play in specific fun new areas which will distract them longer and enable you to work better.
I.e. My kids both love the bath, so I give them popsicles, then at a different stage I pour oatmeal in the bathtub and ask them to make porridge with bowls and spoons, or give them raisins and watch the raisins get bigger from the water, or cups of hot cocoa. Each of these separate activities enables me more time to fold a load of clothes or tidy up in the living room while they are delightfully amused with a new area of entertainment.
This is a blogpost I wrote with more details:
-Fifth, know your free times- i.e. when Augustine goes to playgroup, when Jane has a naptime, or when the kids sleep in the evenings are a lot of the times that I try to utilize the tasks that are much more difficult to complete when they are awake and requiring my attention.
-Sixth, try to cut corners to make tasks easier: use the slow cooker so you don’t have to prep for dinner during the witching hour, use paper products to cut down on your dish washing time, etc.
-Seventh, during overwhelming times, pay for someone to come in and help. We’ve done this on occasion when Shaun and I both have impending deadlines. If your financial budget is tighter, try to find a student at your church who may needs some extra funds for a one-off task to help do various chores around your home or talk with your husband about household tasks you need may need him to take on for a season while you are unable to get it done.
-Eighth- continue to remind yourself of the gospel. God loves us on account of Christ’s righteousness, not our attempts to have a clean home or be perfect at our parenting. Even our best attempts at parenting are seen as filthy rags next to the righteousness of Christ. May the joy of the Lord be our strength when we face various weaknesses. He is glorified when depend on Him. Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
I know this was super long-winded, but it is a topic that I constantly have to evaluate– so I hope you can find some of these resources helpful towards your desire to glorify God in this task!