How to Get Stuff Done When Your Kids are Underfoot


Whatever your work situation, if you’re a mommy, chances are there are times when you are home with your children and REALLY need to get stuff done. I know this is easier said than done. In fact, I am writing this while one child naps and the second sits in my lap eating pizza bites and watching Beauty and the Beast. She asks me what I’m doing and I tell her,”Writing about getting stuff done when your kids are underfoot.” She says, “Oh,” and goes back to her movie. She’s too young for irony. 

Before I became a mom, I thought I would get so much done if I was home more. After I became a mom I thought I would never get stuff done again.

Like anything else, you need to strike a balance. When you’re home with your kids, their care should be your primary occupation, but life goes on and stuff has to be accomplished. So, I’ve wracked my brains and those of some other mommy bloggers out there and come up with these 10 tricks for to get stuff done with children underfoot.

[pinterest count=”horizontal”] how to get stuff done with kids around

[dropcap]1. [/dropcap]Have a Plan

Make yourself a list of everything you want to get done. What can you realistically accomplish today? Now break each task down into manageable parts and try grouping them together by location. For example, if laundry and cleaning the bathroom are both on my list, I might spray cleaner on the fixtures and let it soak while I sort a load of laundry. Then, I would wipe and rinse fixtures before carrying the sorted laundry into the laundry room. 

[dropcap]2.[/dropcap]Slow and Steady

On your own, you could probably crank through your to-do list in a couple of hours. With kids in the picture, tasks are going to take longer. Accept it. Move through your list slowly throughout your day. Some days it will feel like two steps forward, one step back, but try and remember, that still means one step forward. 

[dropcap]3.[/dropcap] “Ignore it” Jobs

Not all jobs need your attention exclusively. You can put in a load of laundry or dishes, then spend time with your children or move on to another chore before unloading and putting away. [quote]When you think of tasks in parts and pieces they are far less daunting and easier to accomplish.[/quote]

[dropcap]4.[/dropcap] Get Help

There are some chores that are just not practical to do with your kids around. Jobs that are dangerous or require chemicals for example. Here are three great ways to get help when you need it. 

  • Swap care with another mom–Managing children while trying to get stuff done is a common struggle for moms. Talk to a local friend. I bet she would jump at the chance to have a few free hours to do some deep cleaning, too. 
  • Lean on dad–Whatever your situation, many times the best way for dad to help out is to entertain the littles. Both your kids and dad will enjoy the uninterrupted playtime. 
  • Get a mother’s helper–When I was 12, I babysat half the town. I would never consider hiring a girl that young to watch my children, but I would definitely consider having one act as an extra set of eyes and hands. Most days someone to play with my kids and monitor the situation while I am a room away would be worth every penny. 

[dropcap]5.[/dropcap]Get the Kids Involved

Yes, a job may take twice as long in the hands of a four-year-old, but getting chores done slower is still getting them done. Plus, the benefits of including your kids are numerous. It gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership in the upkeep of their homes. Working alongside your children is a wonderful bonding experience, it teaches life and problem-solving skills, and shows them that it is not mom’s job alone to clean and organize. This Montessori website has some great information on age-appropriate chores.


Kate writes in her blog, Modern Alternative Mama that her kids are constantly asking for snacks, which happily distracts them for 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, hungry children are cranky children, and cranky children make it near impossible to accomplish anything.  

 [dropcap]7. [/dropcap]Closet Toys

A miraculous arsenal for all of your distraction needs, every mom should have a stash of closet toys. Closet toys get brought out on special occasions and then returned after a short visit. In my house this is Play-doh. I can put my daughter at the table with a couple cans of dough and a few tools and there will be blessed silence for at least 20 minutes. 

[dropcap]8.[/dropcap] Naptime or Quiet Time

I am a firm believer that all children need a rest during the day. Now, often this rest is as much for you as it is for them, but so what? If a child is too old to nap, call it quiet time. In her blog about this topic, Autumn, writes about the importance of making sure your child’s room is a safe place for them to quietly play on their own. Make quiet time part of your regular schedule, and you’ll be surprised by who dozes off and by how much you can accomplish during this time. 

[dropcap]9.[/dropcap] Set a Timer

See how much you can get done in 30 minutes. When the timer goes off play with your kids for 30 minutes. Then, complete chores for another 30 minutes. When there is a set time limit children are more likely to self-manage. Also, many people find themselves more productive when racing against the clock. 

[dropcap]10.[/dropcap] Remove Distractions

The key to moving quickly is focusing on the task at hand. So, put down your phone and stay off Facebook and Pinterest. We all know how these little distractions become a time suck. Before you know it you’ve spent the 3o minutes your kids were engrossed in Sesame Street looking at articles on “Dry Brushing” (or maybe that’s just me?)