Toddler time-saving tricks

Feel like you need more hours in the day? Tanith Carey reveals how to get everything done with more speed and less stress

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For fuss-free dressing

Don’t be dazzled by looks when you’re choosing clothes for your little one – think about the kind of garments that will make your life less complicated too.

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1. Go for popper buttons. These are much less hassle than other fastenings. Clothes with all those fiddly buttons and zips should be for special occasions only.

2. Look for reversible clothes. The average 1-year-old needs up to five outfit changes a day, so make your washing load lighter.

3. Dress your toddler in a few light layers. Every time she dirties her top layer, just peel it off to reveal a fresh one underneath.

4. Buy socks with fitted heels. It’ll ensure that you – and later, your toddler – will put them on the right way around.

5. Get socks in only one colour and style. You don’t have the time to waste searching around for the only other matching colour at the bottom of the sock drawer.

6. Look for underwear with a picture on the front. It will help your little one identify which way around it goes.

7. Choose three-quarter-length sleeves. This makes sure your toddler’s cuffs don’t get dirty or need to be constantly rolled up when she washes her hands.

Fixing hair

Does your toddler shriek at the sight of a hair brush? Save time by avoiding hair battles and knowing the best way to keep hair healthy and your toddler happy.

1. Get the softest bristle brush you can. If your toddler isn’t afraid of getting scratched on the face with bristles, she’s more likely to stay still while you brush her hair.

2. Never buy hair bands with metal bits. These bands can break the hair. Instead, buy thick comfy towelling ones so you won’t spend painful minutes disentangling them.

3.Tackle bad knots by pulling them apart with your fingers first. Then spray them with spray-on conditioner. Use a wide-tooth comb and hold the hair close to the root to stop it tugging and hurting.

4. Keep a pair of hair-cutting scissors in the house. You can trim every few weeks and you should then only need to go to the hairdresser every three months for a ‘shape’.

5. Let your toddler’s hair dry naturally. Do this as often as possible, avoiding the scary hairdryer. But don’t send her to bed with wet hair, as this will rough up the hair shaft and cause tangles.

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Mae bathtimes fun for your toddler!

Bathtime

Want a speedier bathtime? Don’t let your little one kick up a splash by making the experience enjoyable as possible.

1. Stick funny pictures on the ceiling. Pictures above the bath will give her something to focus on when she tips her head back to get her hair rinsed. Sing a special hair-washing song at the same time, so she knows the process won’t last long.

2. Buy a bath ring. For younger toddlers who feel unsafe in a big tub, a bucket-shaped
wash pod might be a good idea. This will enable her to sit up and will free up your arms to get the job done more efficiently. Or you could just get in the bath with her.

3. Use character gloves to make face-washing fun. Tell her Mr Monkey – or whoever – wants to kiss her face all over. Let the toys help with hair-rinsing too.

Teeth brushing

Don’t waste time nagging your toddler to brush her teeth. Get her involved to make brushing a breeze.

1. Make it more fun. Let her choose her own special toothbrush – and even her own favourite brand of children’s toothpaste – so that she feels grown-up and involved.

2. Make up a tooth-brushing song. Or you could really go the whole hog and buy an electric toothbrush that plays a tune to keep her scrubbing.

3. Clean your teeth at the same time. Ask your toddler to play copycat with you.

Bedtime

Don’t let your toddler dilly-dally when bedtime is looming – it’s not just a timewaster, it also leaves less time for you to have some free time.

1. Make special time. Set aside 20 minutes to have special time with your toddler. Keep it calm and relaxed, but make sure she knows it will not go beyond the period you have set aside to be together. Chat to her about how she’s feeling to relieve any anxieties.

2. Be consistent. Even if you have a guilt attack and feel you haven’t seen enough of your toddler that day, stick to your routine. Make a ritual out of putting on nightwear, brushing teeth and having a set amount of stories. As you reach the end of the last book, gently prepare your toddler to say good night by telling her how many pages are left.

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3. Don’t pressure her. Repeatedly telling her to go to sleep and warning she’ll be tired will only make her anxious if she can’t drop off. Instead, tell her to relax, and reassure her that lying quietly in bed is almost as good.

Adapted from How to be an ‘Amazing Mum’ When You Just Don’t Have the Time, by Tenith Carey (Lion Hudson, £7.99)

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