If You Stay at Home with Your Toddler...

Updated on February 27, 2012
S.M. asks from Columbus, OH
12 answers

What is a typical day like, as in how much do you play with your toddler, how do you clean/cook, do you get out of the house? Share please!

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answers from Houston on

I have a 3 year old, and a 9 year old so I am lucky to get out twice a day to do the school run. That is the key GET OUT!! every day if you can. If I stay home all day I am moody and crankier than my toddler. Cleaning is accomplished by putting my girl in front of the tv with a snack. Not pretty or parenting magazine friendly, but it works. Tidying up toys is done by my kids before bath time, anything they got out they put away. My 9 year old is good about that. Cooking at 5 pm is hard, that is the time when I have to help my son with his acres of homework, and my 3 yo wants me most of all. I get through this time by yelling, sending to rooms and bribery.
A typical day is a bit of playing, walking outside, stories, a nap, maybe a bath - always calms them down, some free play, by herself...

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answers from New York on

Great question, one that I wonder about all the time. First and foremost, I get out of the house almost all the time. It is a matter of survival since I live in a rural area and there is nothing to do here! We go to parks, indoor playgrounds and of course the mall. I make the mornings about DD. I play with her and involve her in making breakfast, doing dishes (her favorite for now), and get down on the floor in her world for about 45 minutes. Then we leave the house and stay out until nap time. During naptime, I recharge, workout and finish the dishes. I save major cleaning with DH for the weekends. It's way too important to recharge to keep up with DD.

Afternoons, DD and I may hit the library or the store to run errands.

Then DH is home and he plays with her while I make dinner.

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answers from Rochester on

Well, here's my schedule. I stay at home with an almost two year old, and an almost seven year old, both girls.

7-8 am, wake up. It varies.
7:30-8:30, breakfast, shower, get dressed, watch one cartoon (15 minutes).
8:30-11:30, school. During this time, my toddler plays independently, watches maybe one more show (15 minutes), reads books, pretends to clean, colors, etc.
11:30-12 or 12:30, play time. Basically, what would be recess, I guess.
12 or 12:30 - 1 or 1:30, lunch. It takes an hour for us to do lunch.
After lunch, my older child finishes whatever school work she has left, and my toddler takes a nap. Sometimes, my toddler takes a nap earlier (like today) and misses lunch, so I will feed her when she gets up.

We are usually done with school by 1 or 2, so then it's kind've a free for all. Sometimes the toddler is napping and my husband will take our older daughter out to feed the ducks or go for a walk at the Nature Center, etc. Or we'll read books, play video games, play with toys, etc.

Dinner is around 5, then baths, play time, and bed....8 for the older child, and whenever for the toddler (who isn't on a great sleep schedule, unfortunately.)

Do I get out of the house? Maybe once or twice a week, to go to the grocery store or bank. During the summer we hit the library a lot, but only about once a month during the school months.

Clean, cook? I am constantly cleaning. I'm of the mindset that if you keep things clean, it doesn't involve a lot of time. I'll dust and do laundry/fold while I'm watching a show at night. I do the dishes, vacuum, and pick up the house as part of my after dinner routine...take about 45-60 minutes to do all of it. Cook? Well, I make breakfast and lunch, but my husband generally makes supper (how sweet is that, even if I have to do all the cleanup?)

I can't quantify how much I play with my toddler, I guess. She's with us all day long as we're doing everything, and usually joins in on it. Most of our "one-on-one" time is actually after her sister goes to bed; that's when we read books, etc.

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answers from Chicago on

Our little guy likes to watch tv when he first wakes up, so that gives me a chance to eat some breakfast myself, wake the other kids and get them out the door.

Then we usually go play or play a home for a little while. I throw in some laundry or we run to the grocery store. We are always "playing games" - can you find something RED? Do you see the number 4? Can you find...

It's home for lunch and his nap. Sometimes I clean, sometimes I am online doing other Mommystuff or sometimes I get in the shower or just relax.

Then the big kids come home, we're off to after school activities...I always bring toys in the bag for our little guy. He loves following the big kids around and running after them.

It's home for cooking for me - they usually watch tv, color or do homework. Dinnertime, baths and bed.

I make it a point to get my little guy out of the house to play with other kids at least 2-3 times per week. Sometimes it's the library, health club child care, playdate or preschool.

I think preschool is CRITICAL for the little ones. It teaches them how to socialize, watch Mom go away and come back (without dad, babysitter or grandma there too), and how to learn to follow instructions. WE LOVE our preschool and get them in at least 1 day a week by age 2 or 3. It gives me a break to run errands, get a haircut, go to the drs office, etc. while the little one is engaged, playing, doing arts n crafts and being well taken care of (instead of schlepped along with me again!).

We don't do it necessarily for the education, although our school is great for that. But we do it for the other reasons I listed above. I'm really surprised how many people wait to send their kids off to preschool until age 4.

From what I've seen and heard, lots of these kids have a hard time adjusting and already have become so dependent on mom or their "home routine" that school is like a foreign concept.

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answers from St. Louis on

When my kids were toddlers we never stayed at home. First of all when you always go in public it forces you to teach them to be human. The second is that it wore them out so they slept well. The third was with them not home to trash the house my house was always clean. :)

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they had a play group at the YMCA and I had coffee with the other moms. On Tuesday and Thursday I did the drop off there and worked out for four hours. The rest of the afternoon was weather permitting getting home at three to cook dinner and move the laundry I did before I left in the morning.

I really lived the life though I didn't know it at the time.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I get out every single morning with my toddler. There is some time before and after to clean up. Or when she naps. After her brother gets home from school is when I cook (and oversee him doing homework). A typical day is breakfast, help get big brother to the bus stop, come home and play/get ready/clean up, leave and go on our outing (Depending on the day of the week it is: Environmental center toddler/preschooler time, Music and Movement at the library, playdate at friend's house, YMCA for me to exercise, pool, or family meeting center which has an indoor play area for toddlers). Come home, eat lunch, put her down for nap. Then I can veg out or clean or do what I want while she naps. Then wake her up and go get brother from the bus stop. Then come home and feed kids snacks and help brother with homework. Then I start getting dinner ready. Depending on what time our morning activity starts we have time before or after to run to the grocery store or run an errand if needed too. Usually the morning activities are 9:30 to 10 or 10 to 11. We usually get home right at noon or 12:30. We eat lunch and she is down for her nap by 1pm. One day a week I have to take her brother to his piano lessons right when he gets home. We eat snack in the car. And while he has piano I take my toddler for a walk with our dog. That night we have an easy dinner (like pasta).

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answers from San Francisco on

We got out every day. Usually the park, sometimes the library, the mall, Target, a friend's house, an indoor play place, the zoo, the beach, etc. I tried to meet up with other mom friends as much as I could so that I had some adult company, and we stayed out as long as possible, usually bringing our lunch with us.
I never really played with them. I did sit down and read to them every day (day and night) and I would also watch TV/movies with them in short stretches, but mostly they played on their own. The key is making sure they have toys that are interesting to them. They loved blocks, cars/trains, balls and scooping sand and water (outside of course!) They also liked playing with empty boxes and pots and pans and spoons, and making forts out of the couch cushions. While they played I did housework, paperwork, cooked, worked in the yard and did workout videos. As far as housework goes, I would just focus on cleaning whatever area we were in at the time, I cleaned the bathroom sink, toilet, floor, while they were in the bath, and I would dust, sweep, vacuum, mop while they were watching TV, etc. Sometimes they "helped" mommy cook and do house and yard work which was sweet, and great quality time :)



answers from Detroit on

My kids are 18 months apart.. so when they were 1 and 2 or 2 and 3.. I had to play with them alot to keep them playing nicely and not fighting. WE went out almost every day.. 24 hours at home made me crazy. in the summer we can walk to parks... or play outside.. but in the winter playgroups...library story times.. kindermusik classes... just out of the house.. all activities were in the am.. afternoon was for naps and clean up..


answers from Los Angeles on

I stay home with two. One was different because we could spend the whole morning on an outing. Now I have morning nap to contend with.
6:00 nurse baby, snuggle in bed with family
7:00 Breakfast (mom clean house)
8:00 computer time, play with baby, read to baby
8:30 exersise video (kids play at our feet)
9:00 put baby down, play with toddler, give her reading lesson or play game
give toddler 1 hour of cartoons or iPad, and mom has one hour to clean or do what I want to do
10:30 - 1:30 outing, grocery shop, drs apt. or swim lesson, and often go out to lunch
1:30 nap for baby/ 1 hour quiet time for toddler, mom rest or fold laundry, 15 min on the computer
2:30 -3:00 play with kids, go to park
4:00 pick up house, start dinner, feed baby
5:30 hubby home and gives me a break

On wed we do a bible study with a kids program and so my kids get some structure and time with peers in a learning environment. Good way to break up the week. I spent more one-on -0ne with my first but when second child comes along they enjoy each others company.



answers from Oklahoma City on

When the kids were toddlers they played by themselves quite a bit. If you pay constant attention to them they expect all your time. If you teach them to play by themselves they will tend to do that more.

For our boy grandson, I had a gate up in the hallway and the doors that were not his room were shut. He had free access to his room. He would play for hours by himself then come out to the gate and let me know it was time to have a drink or eat. Then he'd nap for a couple of hours and he'd be back to playing. When sister came home from school they would play and play.

If he was wanting extra attention we'd play with cars or Lego's. Hubby actually spent more time with him doing guys stuff. I usually would let him play in the tub or with crayons or markers.

The girl wanted more one on one attention, she liked coloring and painting too. I would spend time with her but I still did not spend the day playing with her.

I did put the kids in a Mothers-Day-Out program 1-3 days per week. That was when I arranged my doc appointments, shopping, time with friends, etc...starting kindergarten and never being away from home is too hard on kids, they have all that separation anxiety to deal with and they need to go through that before school.



answers from Savannah on

When my oldest was an only child (age 0-3) I did spend more one on one time with him, but my suggestion even now with 2 children that entertain each other (now ages 5 and 2), it's still basically the same. I lived in a place that had A LOT to offer as far as opportunities for moms with kids before. The day was basically our morning routine (up early, stretch, prayer/meditation/shower, fix everyone breakfast, pack husband's lunch, etc, etc). Then I had some morning chores and I would just include him and turn them into games. Gathering/sorting laundry would be throwing laundry in the baskets like basketball, or showing him to sort "whites with whites, colors with colors, pants with pants", or when I'd sweep it rocked his world to hold the dustpan OR I'd let him swiffer and he loved that. From the time he was 2 he was able to go get the little trashbags out of the wastebaskets under the desk, by the beds, in the bathrooms and bring them to me, and I'd take the trash out. Silly little things like that, talking the whole time. It makes the chores take longer, but it's getting things done, teaching him, and playing at the same time. Then we'd play, read, sing, etc. Instead of chopping vegetables and stuff on the counter, sometimes I'd bring it all to the table and he'd sit in his chair and have a snack and watch and we'd talk about random stuff, practice something he was learning, or discuss cooking and what I was doing: he could tell you about "the trinity" (bellpeppers, garlic, onion) and what goes with what by about 2. When things are chopped I let him put stuff in the mixing bowls and have a go, or if mixing things, he could "squish" it and then I get a turn. Again it takes a little longer, but he was interested and it worked. We bonded over stuff I had to do anyway. Once it got to the part where you have to start cooking or broiling, you can just give him a couple wooden spoons, different sized pots and pans, and show him how different sizes make different sounds, and let him have at it. It helps keep him out from under foot, and it's sort of like an alarm in that if the drumming stops, you know to look for him, but otherwise you're free to cook without worry.
Going out: every day we would go for a walk. I still do this for my 2 year old-we pick one color, one shape for the week and practice it everywhere. Walk around looking for blue or squares, yellow and octagons, etc. Let your child inspect things (which means you're not going to be getting any aerobic exercise here----you may be watching ants march in a line or looking at broken chunks of concrete that your child is sure is a fossil, etc). You have a choice here to get aggravated that you're not going anywhere, or you can stop and watch knowledge, curiosity, imagination, and personality develop right before your very eyes. Was I perfect at that? Not on days when I'm at the store and rushing through, no.....but on my boys' outings, well, the outings are for them. We would walk down and feed stale bread or crackers to the turtles and ducks (and fish) at a nearby pond, play on the playground, go to the library for storytime and a craft or hear a special guest (our library has people do neat things like a drum circle, a childrens song guy with a banjo, Mad Science, the Critter Guy, etc), pick up 7 books and a movie or 2 for the week and go to the library every week. Now you have a book a day to read. We used to go to Small Fry Club at a local McDonalds for stories, games, crafts, guest speakers like a fireman, dentist, Ronald, etc (but we moved and this local McDonalds doesn't have that here). We'd look in our area and do whatever is available, whenever: children's theater to see a play, or a morning trip to the movie theater, swimming, zoo, art or sculpture musuems, (actually ANY museum), swimming, playdates, Bible study and letting your child play with peers at church, musical games, farmers market (let them ask questions and pick out one new thing a week to try in a dinner that evening). Tour a working farm, take lessons or classes together. Do different types of art projects together. Nap when your child naps, OR use that to get some chores/cooking done, or just veg out and play on the computer or read. If the weather is bad and there's no going outside, we can go to Chuck E Cheese, or walk the mall and ride the little carousel, "etc". If it's just my kids and I'm not babysitting, I'll let them put on their little boots and jackets and go splash around in the backyard on rainy days (for mild rains).
Right now: my guys have done some chores and a little preschool stuff with me. Now they're in the playroom upstairs. I'm just waiting on my neighbor's child to come over (any minute), since I provide childcare for her a few days a week. We'll do more playing, reading, preschool, and they can play together too. I am involved, but I also make sure to allow some "me time" where they're free to be kids and use their own imaginations too.



answers from Washington DC on

I make it a point to get out at least a few times a week that aren't just about picking up older children. SD's school has a playground next to it so in good weather we go play while we wait for her. We have standing events at the library and whatever comes up for our Meet Up that we can attend. I work PT from home, so I don't get out as much as I would like. I try not to have DD watch too much TV and we also listen to music, do crafts, etc. From waking up to when I have to log in is for her - snuggles, books, etc. So is lunchtime and any time she needs me during the day (I can stop and start.)

I am always playing catch up with the house. I try to get the dishes done and the main areas cleaned up. DD no longer naps. When she did, I worked.

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