How To Work With A Toddler Around.

I started my business when my daughter was a toddler and my son was 3, so I have experience working with toddlers and young children around. Having said that, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GET ANYTHING DONE, YOU PEOPLE WITH TODDLERS???

Lunchtime...Don't even pretend, just strip the shirt off and hose them down afterward.

Oh my, babies and toddlers are a lot of work. I remember when my son went to preschool and I suddenly only had one child to deal with for three hours a day. It was like a little vacation! Now that my kids are both old enough to vote, I've really lost the ability to get anything accomplished with a toddler around.

This has been proven to me because my cousin has been bringing her son (who's 18 months when I'm writing this) for me to babysit once a month or so. She goes up to Starbucks and does a bunch of writing or class prep with no baby to watch, and I watch the baby. It's fun for me because I'm at the age that I want to grab every baby I see, but my house isn't childproofed, and he takes a lot of monitoring because of that.

I started thinking about how I got anything done when my kids were toddlers and preschooelrs. Here are my suggestions, or what I can remember about what I did.

-- Have a dedicated corral area that can contain them when you need them to be contained. I drilled holes in the wall and attached baby gates to an entire section of my house so that I could create a huge playpen, for lack of a better term. As long as this one area is totally childproofed there's less of a chance that they'll stick a fork in an outlet when you're not looking.

-- Don't be afraid to let them watch tv or a movie. Age-appropriate videos or educational computer games can actually teach kids how to read. My son started with educational computer games when he was under 3, and he's a programmer now, so, yeah. The electronic babysitter works. I'm not saying to park them in front of the tv all day...Maybe reserve their favorite movie for the times that you need a solid hour of work time, and only let them watch it then. But seriously, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it unless you're letting them play Grand Theft Auto.

-- Let them "help" you by staying out of the way but keeping busy. Tell little kids that they can have their own play dough to make flowers or decorations, but they can't use yours because it's for your work. Buy a set of Wilton cutters and let them decorate a dummy cake with play dough or extra fondant. Don't tell yourself that they won't understand this...My kids knew not to eat the fondant while they were "working" by the time they were 3. Make sure to give them a treat when they're done with their work. If you want to really go deep with this, you can make an extra 8" layer and let them decorate it with icing and whatever they want to use. But you have to totally stay out of it if you do this. They'll love it and you can get some work done while they mess around. My kids made some truly horrific cakes when they were little, but we'd take them to the grandparents' house and they loved them.

-- WORK LIKE CRAZY DURING NAPTIME. This is not the time to clean the house. This is not the time to lie around reading a magazine. This is the time to get some stuff DONE!!

-- Let them play in the kitchen cabinets. Make one cabinet the pan cabinet or the tupperware cabinet, and let them take that stuff in and out while you're working nearby.

-- Don't overschedule yourself. When your kids are little, don't take too many jobs. It will only result in burnout and frustration. Be realistic about what you can handle as one human being.

-- Take advantage of people who want to babysit. When I had to get my kitchen ready for my first inspection, I had my inlaws come over and watch the kids so that I could clean everything to within an inch of its life.

-- If all else fails, hire a babysitter. Even if you have a neighborhood kid come over and play with your kids a couple of hours a week, that will free up your time and you'll be able to get some work done.

-- Relax your standards. If you have young children, your house will not look like a magazine no matter how hard you try. Don't put that pressure on yourself. There's a difference between messy and dirty. Messy is fine, just keep it clean where it matters and don't worry about it too much. This too shall pass, and you will eventually have time to scrub the baseboards with a toothbrush again (if you're into that kind of thing.)

-- Use any and all "convenience" services that are available to you. Drive-throughs at banks and pharmacies are the bomb. The thing where you order your groceries online and just drive up to have them brought out to your car is the BEST THING EVER. I don't even have little kids anymore, and I use this. I've seen that CVS is going to start curbside pickup at a couple of stores in my area too, so it's a service that's spreading. USE IT. You won't regret it.

If you have any tips, or if you have young children and you can add any insights into being productive with kids around, please comment below!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and

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