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3 tips to get things done and have time for yourself with a toddler

mother and son painting together

Life with a little child is amazing beautiful, but also can be struggling. Specially if you have to get work done. And let us admit, this all of us has to do. 

We had a hard time in the last 4 years figuring out a system to build up a freelancer artist career and manage a household with out little son. 

Some of us are in the lucky position to have family and friends around to help out and take the child to the playground, when we have something important to do. With us it is not the case.  We moved to a foreign city a year ago with no family in sight and only a handful of friends around, who also have to deal with their own life.

So we were forced to figure out a way to get things done with out little son around. 
Here we share with you a few tips with you. If you have more ideas, do not hesitate to share with us. 

  1. Get your alone time. 

If your child is a little bit older, like 2 or 3 years old, you already are familiar with the sleep rhythm of him. Use the time when he sleeps to get things done. We tried many systems along the years. In the beginning our son was still making afternoon naps, so we could work in this time. Then he stoped doing it, and he also was pushing the limits so much, that he did not want to go to sleep without us. He had such a fear of missing out, that he was able to stay up until midnight, if he knew that we would be still awake. So we started to trick him. We pretended to go to sleep with him, and stood up after half an hour when he slept tight and stayed up for a few hours to get things done.

This was working good, but had two disadvantages. First we were really tired, after standing up again, and could not work concentrated. Second, sometimes we fell asleep by ourself, and did not manage to stand up. 

So now we try it the other way round. We go to sleep with him early and do not stand up. But we stand up after 7 hours of sleep very early. We usually go to sleep at 8 pm and stand up at 4 am. Hugo stands up at 7, so we have 3 hours just for ourselves.

2. Involve the child in the jobs

Sometimes we do not get enough me or work time when our child sleeps. One possibility is to involve the child in the jobs. This is sometimes hard, but with a bit of creativity everything is possible. If you have to work on the computer, give your child an old computer where he can hit the buttons of the keyboard and “write” by himself. 

A lot of times if I have to finish a painting, I give him a piece of paper where he can paint by himself. With housework children can be involved in a more interactive way, they can help to hang clothes to dry, empty the dishwasher or pack toys together.

The important thing is to make it fun, and have fun by yourself, then your child will enjoy it. 

3. Talk with your kid

Sometimes it is not possible to involve the child in the job. Then you can try to talk with him and explain the situation. Important is to stay positive, compliment him (“such a big and clever boy will for sure understand”), explain what you have to do and make it clear what you expect from him (draw a positive scenario and explain what he should do, not what he should not).  Give him alternatives for what he can do ( “you can watch a book, build with duplo or play with your cars). Never threat, but use rewards instead (if you behave good, we can bake after a cake together, go to the playground, make a trip…)

I do not want to pretend to be a super mom. It happens to me that nothing works, and I turn on cartoons to occupy our son if I have to do something urgent. But I try that this stays the last remedy after really nothing but nothing worked. It is important to take things easy and do not feel guilty if we did not succeed. Life with a child is a huge challenge after all and we can be proud of ourselves to feed, love and raise such a little wonder.

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