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Should you sacrifice a clean house to be with your kids?

Mother Multitasking with Child
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It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Here’s one strategy to try.

Four of my five kids are in now in school, so for the first time in a long time I’m home with a baby. I imagined it to be a sweet, gentle time to reconnect with my youngest and recapture some of the peaceful bonding I remember from the early days of motherhood.

As it happens, I almost certainly fabricated the “peaceful bonding” part of my early motherhood memories. Our days are filled less with sweetness and more with tantrums and bids for attention, which is making the real memories of early motherhood come rushing back.

There were lots of things I didn’t know as a first time-mom that I know now, and I came across this article in Parenting that summed up the practical tips and tricks I wish I’d known when my oldest was my youngest. Here’s my favorite one:

No need to miss out on sweet snuggles for the sake of keeping up on housework. Do both! Investing in a good baby carrier can free up your hands to tackle all sorts of projects while keeping your baby close. Infants love motion anyway, and watching while you vacuum or fold that mountain of laundry might be the perfect distraction for a fussy little one. You can even use plastic rings to attach their favorite toy to the carrier strap so they can play while you work.

It took me years to find a baby carrier I liked — in fact, I didn’t discover the Ergo baby until my fifth. And while baby carriers are great for a limited period of time, the idea of including your little one in your daily routine is timeless.

My current favorite cleaning hack is to get a clean sponge damp, and let my toddler wipe anything and everything while I do dishes and wipe down the table and counters. Ditto with sweeping — I can get so much more done if he’s got his own play broom to use, so he feels like he’s working with me instead of being ignored for the sake of dust bunnies.

Of course, there are times when I can’t let him pitch in … he’s not the most helpful typist. Exhibit A:

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And even though he thinks he’s ready to chop vegetables, knives and toddlers don’t mix. So when I really have to buckle down and get something done, here’s my secret: Team Umizoomi.

Look, y’all, motherhood is hard. I don’t advocate letting your toddler spend their lives in front of the TV, but when the rubber hits the road sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And if it makes you feel better, at least Team Umizoomi teaches math skills.

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