House Cleaning With Two Toddlers: A How-To

Disclaimer: Its not actually possible to deep clean your home with two toddlers in tow. Therefore it is wise to do small things every day as part of a cleaning routine. However, if you are forced to clean up the whole house in one day here’s how I do it. (My kids make big messes every day so I’m always cleaning.)

  • First, I recommend taking a thirty minute break or so, just to mentally prepare yourself for task(s) ahead.
  • Set the kids up with some screen time if you allow it. I am trying to keep screen time to a minimum so I let them play in their mountain of toys until I’m ready to tackle that room, which is the living room and the main part of my house. It never looks like I’ve done anything until the absolute end. Ugh.
  • Change diapers and give snacks (no chips!! Those end up smashed into the carpet) right before beginning.
  • Turn on some music or use your headphones. Try listening to an ASMR video while cleaning. It might change your world.
  • Walk around a bit or stand amidst the mess and just marvel at it for a moment. The popcorn on the floor, the window that’s smeared with something, the sticky habdprints on the fridge door. Resist the urge to quit before you even start – sometimes the hardest part.
  • Follow this order to a degree: kitchen first (I usually wipe the kitchen down before bed so that its easier to clean up after breakfast. It doesn’t always get done though. Pick up all garbage and take it out. Wash dishes and put away. Start a load of laundry. Fold those clothes on your “clothing chair” (I know you have one). Put folded clothes away and dust. Change sheets after spraying shower and toilets with cleaner. Wash glass surfaces, wipe down and clean toilets/bathroom(s), and sweep. I also have to vacuum. Then, mop or swiffer.

Some Tips

  • Check on the kiddos often! While you scrub the toilet they could be coloring on your couch or something.
  • Keep them in the room with you if you can and encourage them to help with picking up their toys or dusting the coffee table.
  • Accomplish one task (or room) and give yourself a pat on the back. Take a cofee, tea, or Red Bull break and get back to work before you decide to give up.
  • Pro tip: always multi-task and never leave a room empty-handed!

Good luck! I’m off to vacuum up some of those chips I was talking about.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Day 6 was a success! Sergio didn’t use the phone once, mainly because he didn’t have abuelita’s phone anymore. And also because I am loathe to give up my own phone so that he can look at YouTube.

Now, on day 7 we are making some real progress. The phone’s whereabouts have not been sought after and the hose is going full blast. (Indeed, a worm was just brought to me).

I’m not sure what the end goal will be for this trial. I’m not sure how much screen time my children will be allowed yet. And there are a lot of recommendations out there. I just want my children to have fun off the phone. I’m sure we’ll find a middle ground soon.

Or I hope so.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Days 3 and 4 have been rough. I’ve won some battles and also lost a few. However, he had very little screen time on Day 3, even though when I awoke later than usual I found that my husband had already given him a phone.

Day 4 was full of arguments over the phone. By 9:00 a.m. Sergio was begging for the addictive device.

“It’s too early!” I told him.

Around 11:30 we went outside to play in the hose (an excellent tool for distracting children). Things went smoothly until the daily afternoon phone calls started coming in. Abuelita answered and tried speaking with a sibling of mine.

As my mother tried to speak on the phone Sergio became very loud, boisterous, and frankly, bratty. The phone call was cut short. Sergio asked for a cellphone. We caved.

Sergio promptly ran inside to sit on the couch with the phone, Marisol hot on his heels. Marisol likes to try and watch the phone with him but Sharing is not Sergio’s forte. I don’t mind that Sergio doesn’t share YouTube with Mari because she’s too young for it anyway. Soon she grew tired of Sergio’s stinginess and came back outside with myself and my mother.

While my mother, Marisol, and I gardened outside, Sergio watched his phone. We are always in and out eating snacks and such. Then, suddenly, at 7:15 p.m. (which is close to bedtime) Sergio came out onto the porch dancing and singing to a music video. Marisol carried a toy that sings Baby Shark (my. favorite. song.).

We all clapped and danced. I stubbed out my last cigarette of the day and hauled my ducklings off to bed.

As I laid next to my children in bed I started looking through my own phone. Then, from the darkness, came a little voice telling me to turn it off.

I smiled and did so. I guess we all need a reminder to turn it off once in a while.

Lessening Screen Time With Sergio

Day 2

Surprisingly, our second day of abstaining from YouTube went quite well. At 10:00 a.m. there had still been no mention of the phone and shortly after, the two babes went on a rare outing with S. to wash his work truck.

The day was not without its hiccups, however. When my family returned from the truck washing, S. offered Sergio the phone because he was being whiny and inconsolable.

“Let’s go outside,” I suggested, putting a stop the argument over the phone.

We ventured forth into the sun and spent most of the day outside. We had a backyard picnic and watered our garden boxes. Things went well.

Until around 4:00 p.m. when I considered giving in. S. had gone to the store, sending Sergio into a temper tantrum. Thankfully, S. returned rather quickly and the phone was forgotten.

Around 5:00 p.m. Sergio begged for the phone again. I ignored him.

Finally, Sergio got his phone from 7:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. He laid in bed with it, relaxing until he fell asleep.

Ah well, we did our best.

Tips on Painting with Toddlers: Don’t Toss Out That Easel Just Yet

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases. I try to only recommend items that I personally own or have used, and hope that they serve you well also, if you do decide to buy.

Sergio and I like to paint. Not every day, because you can imagine how messy and time-consuming that would be. But, on rainy days like today, we like to fire up our creativity with a few art projects. I am not a creative person when it comes to colors, paints, or anything visual. I’m still learning, I suppose. However, I am one of those stay-at-home moms with nothing better to do than cook up ideas for the kids. Painting is one of those ideas that always sounds fun. It can be frustrating for mom or dad though, so here are a few tips to keep it fun.

I am interested in researching how to recycle paint, and which paints are better for the environment. For now, we paint what we can (old jars, rocks, pieces of wood, and of course, paper) with what we have. This keeps the price for materials down (canvases look great, but are incredibly expensive).

Washable Crayola paint, watercolor palette, brushes, and a recycled jar to put rinsing water in

I love trays. This one is made from silicon (I think? It doesn’t say on the bottom) from Aldi. It has handles and is lightweight; Sergio can lift it also when helping to clean up. Trays tend to keep everything together, easy to reach, and this particular tray doesn’t mind a few spills. Other good options are available on Amazon.

Set up your area, including snacks, utensils and paints, mediums, and whatever else you want to add, before telling your son or daughter about the day’s activity. I have made this mistake many times, and am often followed frantically by an excited, chattering three-year-old on my quest for supplies.

Something else to consider is where you and your little artist will paint. I like to set up a spot outside, so that stubborn paint stains can be pressure-washed from concrete areas or, more ideally, absorbed by the grass and dirt underfoot. For me, painting can have calming effects, which are multiplied when practiced in the open air. I have a screened-in patio, so making a paint station outside is easy for us. If you have a few more obstacles in the way, think creatively, and hoard some cardboard or old linens to use for covering important spaces in your home.

Once your area is clean, covered with an old tablecloth or piece of cardboard, arrange your tools of creativity and make sure the child can reach everything. I also use this easel (I love that it is not made largely from plastic and is easy to carry from room to room) to give Sergio ample access to his work. This is not a fun activity for the children if you don’t allow them to explore and grab their own materials.

On this note, painting is an excellent way for toddlers to dabble in colors, shapes, and textures. It’s a good time to practice vocabulary, so don’t forget to talk about whatever they’re doing. (Today Sergio said the words “dark” and “star” while painting.)

I practice my own creative efforts while spending time with my son.

Mistakes and spills will happen, making supervision necessary. Young children are prone to tasting, smelling, and smearing things all over the place. While working with paints (washable or not) supervision is very important. While sitting next to Sergio, I looked away for one second, and turned back to see a blob of blue paint in the tin of rocks still to be colored. My son had opened a paint jar by himself, and dumped everything out; at least it wasn’t on the floor. Another good reason to use washable paint.

We quickly found a solution by simply painting the rest of the rocks blue. Painting is a nice way for children to explore their surroundings because accidents can turn into artwork.

Another tip is to slyly remove items or tools that are not currently interesting your child. Too many objects to use or things to do can be overwhelming for young ones, and you might have less mess to clean up if you secretly take away the less exciting stamps, stickers, or glitter. Please don’t let them catch you doing this, and remember: I am not liable for any tantrums that occur in your house.

Don’t forget to have fun and don’t worry about cleaning up: everything is much easier with a tray to toss it all into. If you and your artist made it outside, there should be even less to worry about cleaning. Stick your brushes in a jar of water (mineral spirits or paint thinner for acrylic and oil-based paints), and go take a break. You’ve earned it. Keep that easel for the days when you’re not sure what to do, or those times when inspiration strikes.

Plans for a gallery of Sergio’s work are under way because displaying your toddler’s artwork is just as important as making it.

Tantrum in the Salon- How to Get Your Toddler’s Hair Cut

We cut our son, Sergio’s, hair for the first time almost two years ago. His father did it with an electric razor and Sergio was perfectly fine. I kept some hair. Some of the baby’s hair went around the base of my favorite garden member, helping the sickly hosta to grow strong and beautiful, with smooth, bright green leaves. That’s a totally different story, though. No, today I’m going to talk about the temper tantrum in the hair salon.

My son is a great kid, and I don’t mean to sound like all the other moms. Really, he’s way smarter than I am, more friendly, and overall more hilarious than I could ever be. However, he’s got some of my faults in him. He’s very cautious about trying things that could result in pain (maybe not a fault), he gets frustrated easily, and he cries or whines all the time, just like I did. He’s a hoot, and a wonder to me.

Like I said, he’s had a haircut before. Several, in fact. His papá is no hairdresser, however, so most recently, we took him to a local hair salon. My mother was referred to this hairdresser and she does a nice job. Referrals, as most of us probably know by now, are a great way to find your car mechanic, hairdresser, or next favorite book.

As a new mom, I think I know what I will need to bring. Half of the time I’ve got the basics. I forget one thing or another every time. So here’s my list of things to do or bring for the next haircut.

  1. Book your appointment. Duh. Call the salon. Make sure they can schedule your appointment for a time that works for you, (the salon might need notice, too) or ask if they accept walk-ins (not all do). Make sure they can cut children’s hair. After the tantrum I witnessed today, I’m surprised our lovely hairdresser didn’t just throw up her hands and kick us out. She had experience cutting children’s hair, but some may not.
  2. Ask a friend or family member to go with you. My grandmother also wanted a haircut, so she came along for the ride. I have two children now, and I think people often underestimate the difficulty of taking them places. If you have someone to go with you, ask ’em. At least you won’t be embarrassed alone.
  3. Charge your phone! It didn’t help this time, but it might have. Nothing is worse than a dying phone in the hands of a thoroughly entertained toddler.
  4. Pack your bag or purse with the stuff you will need: candy (yes, as a bribe), an extra diaper if the toddler is not potty-trained, (If your tot is potty-trained…well, aren’t you special), an extra T-shirt because there will be hair, a favorite snack (don’t rely on the stale stuff they may or may not have at the salon), and some water to cool everyone down after the fight. I also needed to bring the baby’s bottle, her diaper necessities, and an extra muslin blanket. She’s perfect so I didn’t need toys for her (she is interested in everything around her). If you have two (or more) rowdy babies with you, I’m sorry.
  5. Wash your hair. Or the child’s hair. Whoever is getting a haircut should have clean hair. You don’t want to be gossip for the next client.
  6. Prepare for the worst. I thought everything would go smoothly, since Sergio has done this before, but I was so wrong. He screamed and tried to push her hands away as she combed his hair. He almost wriggled out from my arms as she clipped and snipped. Afterward, he continued to scream and beg for candy. As previously stated, I always forget something.
  7. Don’t forget that this is something new for your son or daughter. Try not to get upset, it can only worsen the situation. As my son stood, yelling into my face in front of the surprised hairdresser, (“He’s got some lungs, don’t he?”) I wondered why I had even bothered. His dad could just do it. But I took Sergio outside, knelt and spoke to him at his level, and he calmed somewhat, better able to cope with the unknown situation. I have to remember, before everything else, to bring along my patience and look at things from Sergio’s point of view.
When all was said and done, he took to a hat.