Being the parent of a toddler is hard! Just when you think you’ve got things all figured out, the tiny terror finds another curveball to throw and most of the lessons you learned from the previous stage go right out of the window! Trying to stay organised with a toddler, making sure I turn upon to work on time, looking after my tiny human and making time for all the other things in life is really hard work.Kristin Brown
I spent many a day wondering whether I was doing something wrong. Am I just making things really difficult for myself? Am I missing something?
But then it dawned on me that it’s just a phase that all toddlers go through and as a parent, you literally have to go along for the ride. Figure it out as you go and try to make things as easy as possible!
So with that being said, here are 10 things that help me on my constant quest of staying organised with a toddler!
How to Stay Organised with a Toddler
1 – Toy Rotation
This was an actual game-changer for me, and I’m sad that it took me almost 18 months to figure it out!
The main driver for this was that I get very frustrated by mess and clutter; I found myself tidying up huge numbers of toys throughout the day. This was on top of a full tidy-up at the end of the day when Carter was in bed. I’ve not bothered to add up the total hours I must have spent doing this, because it would probably send me into a meltdown…
In a nutshell, I gathered all of Carter’s toys in his playroom. I grouped them into categories, and then I made 2 piles with a selection of toys from each category. One pile went into his wardrobe in a large tub, and the other pile stayed in his playroom. I plan to rotate the toys once every 1-2 weeks and so far it’s going really well. He’s playing with toys for longer periods as he’s less distracted by the variety, and I’m spending less time tidying up and stubbing my toes on toys. Winner!
When I get the time I will write a more detailed post about it, so check back soon!
2 – Declutter – Less is More!
Following on from the point about toy rotation, I also looked at the amount of stuff we had around the house. I cleared away anything that cluttered up my work-surfaces. If it didn’t have a space in a cupboard to call home, then I deemed it not really necessary and donated it to charity.
I’ve also been focusing on thinning out my wardrobe, as well as Carter’s so that overall I now have less laundry to do!Brooke Lark
3 – Snacktime
It’s very important that you never run out of snacks…! OK maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s pretty accurate. If your toddler is anything like ours, they get bored with things very easily. I’ve found that if I offer more variety then he’s less likely to turn up his nose.
I bought a pack of small snack pots with lids, and each morning (or evening before if I’m getting organised during the week) I put a mix of small toddler-friendly treats into each pot. We usually get through 2-3 of these a day; they’re easy to grab, and handy to have in your bag for convenience.
The main staples are things like Shreddies or Cheerios, some raisins or mixed dried fruit and chunks of cheese. Sometimes I’ll do a pot with some sliced fruit as well, such as apple or pear with some halved grapes. Any mix will do, and it’s way cheaper than buying individual trail mix or those tiny packs of raisins from the supermarket. There’s also less waste from packaging; so less recycling for you and less rubbish being sent off to the tip!
I guess this is a little bit like the toy rotation, but for snacks!
4 – Colour code
This one doesn’t quite apply to me yet, as I only have one child. But if you have multiple children, they’re probably wearing different sizes of clothes. To make sorting through the copious amounts of laundry and still stay sane, just assign a colour to each child then you won’t have to spend time looking at labels and can fold whilst on autopilot!
I’ve already made a habit of buying things all in one colour if I’m stocking up on the next size up. It saves me so much time as I don’t need to check labels to see whether it will fit or not.
I’m thinking mainly about things like vests, socks and underwear here. But you could even go as far as extending it to the rest of their clothes as well.
5 – Meal Plan
This takes about 20 minutes once a week, saves me a lot of time and also saves a lot of money. It just makes sense to meal plan before you do your weekly shop as well, rather than trying to think up new meals evening.
I normally do this on a Sunday, and it helps me to stay fairly organised. In fact, it all goes to pot if I don’t pull my finger out and get this done.
- you don’t end up buying a load of food which goes to waste. Perishable stuff like veggies are the main victim of food waste
- you can plan meals which are easy to cook in double batches, so you can have a couple of nights where you don’t have to worry about dinner and can just re-heat leftovers
- helps you to factor in a bit of variety. If we don’t plan, then our dinners can end up being a slapdash mix of whatever beige food I can find in the freezer and then I end up feeling guilty because it’s not very healthy
- it helps you think about what you’ve got planned in the week like meals out or visiting friends/family. Therefore you may not actually need to cook every day
- if you calorie count, meal planning is a massive help as you can plan your meals in advance. E.g. on workout days I plan in heavier meals to make sure that I have the energy to work out
- helps you stick to your food budget!
There are a load of other benefits as well, but those are the big ones for me.
How to Stay Organised with a Toddler
6 – Prepare outfits in advance
I always make sure that I plan out 4 work outfits for myself at the start of each week. If something needs ironing I make sure it’s done and then hang them all up so I can quickly see what’s there. (I also make a habit of buying things which require minimal or no ironing…)
I plan Carter’s outfits for the week as well. For nursery days he has a really simple wardrobe of tracksuit bottoms, vest and a t-shirt. It saves me running around each morning trying to find something for him to wear. It also ensures that he’s comfy so he can happily play all day. The nursery staff can easily and quickly change his nappies without too much fuss as well.
7 – Be prepared
In general, it’s a good idea to try and be prepared for every eventuality. But in reality, that’s not really a very practical tip, as with a toddler you never know what’s found the corner!
I find the main things I need to be prepared for are hunger and nappy changes. No parent wants to be caught out, so my advice here is:
- keep a stash of (non-perishable) snacks in your car. One day, you WILL need it!
- keep a spare outfit in the car. You could even go a step further and keep a couple of extra nappies and some wipes in the car as well, just in case
- stash nappies and wipes around the house. I have a couple of storage boxes, where I keep a handful of nappies and a pack of wipes as a bit of a ‘changing-station’. It saves me having to run upstairs all the time when Carter needs changing. I keep one in the living room, one in our bedroom and the main stash in his bedroom
- if you’re potty training, keep a travel potty in the car
- also, keep wipes EVERYWHERE! The car, the kitchen, your handbag. Nothing worse than turning up to work and having a colleague point out a dried line of snot on your black jumper…
8 – Containment
To keep your changing bag/handbag/car from becoming too cluttered, store your toddler’s spare outfits in a ziplock bag. They’re small enough to not be annoying and great at keeping everything in one place so you don’t have trousers and socks floating all over the place. It also makes it really easy to grab if you need it in an emergency!
9 – Stock up
As a toddler parent, you’re probably very likely to visit one or two children’s groups. These are designed to force mums (and dads) to interact with others of their kind. You can let the little angels run riot with various toys whilst they learn valued life skills such as sharing and good communication.
You’ll hopefully meet some lovely friends who you and your toddler get on really well with, and then you may get invited to things such as toddler birthday parties! (Be afraid…) Anyway, it’s a good idea to stock up early on things such as birthday cards and suitable birthday presents.
Cards can be bought really cheaply these days, and you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by just stocking up early. You can obviously set your own budget, but the cheapest ones are literally 10 cards for £1. If you get a selection of cute ones, suitable for boys and girls then you’ll be able to grab one anytime you need one and won’t have to worry about making a trip. If you’re really crafty then you can even make your own and store them!
Another thing to do is look out for big toy events as a lot of the major supermarkets, and places such as Argos do 2-for-1 events and other offers throughout the year.
10 – Relax
It took me ages to admit that when you have a toddler, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in. Creating healthy balanced meals, feeding the kid(s) on time, keeping the house neat and tidy, staying on top of laundry, walking the dog, working out, looking after yourself, making time for your partner…I could go on but you get the idea, right?
So some things are definitely going to slip, and they might seem like a huge deal at the time. But if you look at the larger picture, it’ll bring things back into perspective. Each stage goes by in the blink of an eye, and before you know it your toddler will be having their first day at school. They won’t remember the times that the washing wasn’t done. or the kitchen was a mess. They will remember having fun times and having a calm, relaxed mum or dad. (Well, as relaxed as we can be!)Max van den Oetelaar
It’s all a juggling act; every day you’ll learn a little bit more and every day your toddler will continue to challenge and astound you. But parenthood is a journey, so you might as well enjoy the ride!
If you’d like even more tips on how to stay organised, then check out this post!