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When our third child was born, I was determined to get back to my normal routine of caring for animals and gardening as soon as I could. Being outside is my happy place. I was able to get my chores and gardening done with my baby by babywearing. I wore my baby every day for the first 2 years of her life. When she was about 2 1/2 years old, I stopped wearing her on my back daily. My little adventurer wanted to explore and didn’t want to always be stuck on mama’s back. When I did put her on my back, she felt very heavy and would throw her weight around which would sometimes throw me off balance. Sadly, I had to admit that my baby wearing days were over.
This new phase of life definitely put a wrinkle in being active outside on the farm, but I was determined to continue to be outside, caring for the animals and tending the garden. Plus, I really, REALLY want my little girl to love the farm. She is so interested in everything that is going on around her, the animals, the vegetables and flowers, I don’t want to squash that.
How can you get farm chores and gardening done with an active toddler?
Get your toddler involved
Since my toddler loves to help and wants to go everywhere with me and do everything that I do, why not get her involved? She loves to help with feeding and watering animals, collecting eggs, milking goats and digging in the dirt. If something needs to be done outside, she is ready to go! My toddler likes to have a job that she can do all by herself. Yes, she slows me down and it takes a little longer to get the task done, but she takes pride in feeding the cats and rabbits and is learning so much. As time goes on, I’ll add age appropriate tasks to her list of “chores”. When you love to do something, is chore really the appropriate word?
Have a safe area in the barn where they can play
Even though my little girl would beg to differ, there are some jobs where it simply isn’t safe to have a toddler running around. If it’s a quick job, like delivering a bale to the goats, I have a safe area in the barn where she can play. A place where she can’t get hurt or get into anything; the milking stall in our barn works well. There are usually a few cats to keep her entertained for a couple of minutes. Once I get the bale delivered, we continue on with our chores.
Nap time and baby monitor
I try to utilize nap time as much as I possibly can. This is the time that I get the tasks done that are easier and safer to do without my little sidekick. My dairy goats are very tame, but hoof trimming can be interesting. This is a task best done by myself. Gardening can be done with a toddler, but sometimes it’s nice to focus on the task at hand without any distractions. Since nap time varies in length these days, a baby monitor helps you know when nap time is done.