You have to do it almost every night, and it's pretty tough to do with a toddler clinging to your leg. We're talking about making dinner- which, at least for us, also happens to fall at that cranky time- somewhere between five to six-thirty PM. So-what do you do?
Of course, there's always the television. Many parents say this is the only time in the day that they'll let their little one watch. But if you'd rather not go that route, or don't have one like us, there's still hope! (Depending on the age of your toddler, certain things may or may not work for you).
• Start early! We find if we start dinner prep around 4:30 even, we can cook in parts. We might spend a few minutes washing/chopping up veggies, and then spend a few minutes reading or playing with our daughter. This way she only has to entertain herself for relatively short periods of time.
• Many parents keep a cabinet in the kitchen dedicated to things the toddler can sort through and play with. Ours has some old baby food containers, paper cups, and a few cookie tins. A couple of pots and a variety of spoons have also kept her busy. If you want to keep your child interested longer- mix things up from time to time or add a surprise toy.
• Another option is to sit your child in the high chair or in his seat at the table and give him an activity. Things that have worked for us are play dough, magnets on a cookie sheet, blue painters tape cut into pieces for her to stick onto paper, water color painting, and big, bubbly stickers.
• There's also the snack option. As long as it's earlier and won't fill her up for dinner, we'll put out a plate or bowl of crackers for her to munch on at her "snack table" in the living area.
• If your toddler is a bit older, they'd probably love to "help" in the kitchen. You can give them small, safe tasks to do or even pretend to do. Many parents keep their child's play kitchen in the real kitchen for just this reason.
How do you occupy your toddler while you cook or clean up after dinner?