Sunday, May 22, 2011

5 Tips for Getting Your House Clean While Home Alone with a Preschooler...Without Resorting to TV!

Numero uno:  Pull out the paint set.  In the kitchen.  Reiterate the "no paint anywhere but on paper or canvas" rule, perhaps 17 times.  Only after child can recite the "no paint anywhere but on paper or canvas" rule, do you actually give the child paints and paint brushes.  Load dishwasher, sweep floors, start a load of laundry, all while checking back in with child every 5 minutes.  Provide more blank paper and/or canvas every 5 minutes or so.  Also, keep reiterating the "no paint anywhere but on paper or canvas" rule.

Numero dos:  Find a box of toys you were thinking of donating to Goodwill because they'd been in the back of the closet for so long that you'd forgotten they existed.  Put said box of toys on the rug in the living room.  Introduce your child to this amazing and cool toy.  This should buy you perhaps fifteen minutes to fold some laundry and vacuum a room or two.

Numero tres:  If you happen to have any type of refrigerated cookie dough in the house, break it out.  Supply your child with cookie sheets, and ask them to make "tiny" balls of dough for each cookie.  While they are scooping, shaping, and placing cookie dough onto the sheets, you may possibly have time to unload the dishwasher, wipe the counters, or even clean out the fridge.

Numero cuatro:  Play dough.  In the kitchen.  With real cooking tools.  Maybe a garlic press?  Maybe a lemon juicer?  Maybe a melon baller?  Maybe a potato ricer?  There's something about real kitchen tools that makes them so exciting for preschoolers.  I've also found that throwing in some real birthday candles (no matches, though!!) can help extend the independent-play-life of the activity. 

Numero cinco:  The natives are getting restless.  You must pull out the big guns.  Search in your closet for an old shoebox.  Scrounge up some pipe cleaners and tape.  Bring out the paints yet again.   Yes, you know what I'm going to suggest...Let your child try to make their very first diorama.  May I suggest a pond or a farm?  This might perhaps provide you with enough time to dust and declutter one room.  (I recommend telling your preschooler to save anything they can't get to stand up for the end, when you will come in and be the tape-master extraordinaire.)

And there you have it.  Five tips for getting your house clean without having to resort to putting the preschooler in front of the TV.  (And here I must admit that having a friend take your child to the museum for a few hours on a Saturday also works wonders!)

How have you kept your children occupied in creative independent play when you're super busy?  Ideas are greatly appreciated!


  1. Great tips!! We do the painting and play doh a lot here while I clean the kitchen! I also get them to sort things, colored craft balls, things from Daddy's tool box, and count them after sorted into an egg carton. That kept them so occupied and intrigued the other day!

  2. I'll have to add the sorting idea to my bag of tricks! Thanks, Kelly!