You’re just trying to get a few things done around the house and of course this is the moment that your child has decided to make you his favorite person.
He’s following you around, wanting to be with you, asking for a snack and clinging to you like a third appendage. You try to give him something new to play with; something that you’ve been keeping hidden for such a time as this. You get him happily settled before returning to the kitchen.
Just as you roll up your sleeves you hear a little voice below you and feel a tug on your leg. “Mommy, hold me.”
You didn’t even know he could move that fast, but there he is, looking up at you with those adoring eyes. He’s managed to lose interest in a $15 birthday present in exchange for time with his favorite person. How are you ever going to get anything done?
We’ve all be there.
Then one day it hit me. Why was I spending so much time and energy trying to keep him occupied when he could be “helping” me with some of my projects and having fun at the same time.
Needing to do dishes? Not a problem. I filled my sink with soapy water, scraped the dry bubbles off the top, gave them to my son in a bowl with a spoon and bam…instant entertainment. He spent tons of time sitting on my counter, stirring bubbles around and “making applesauce.” It was great sensory play for him and I was getting my dishes done! Win, win.
Needing to make a salad? No big deal. I found that at 18 months my son could tear lettuce leaves up and throw them into a bowl. He also liked putting the croutons on at the end (and of course he sampled a few just to make sure they were good.) He could do the same thing with cabbage when I made stir-fry, etc.
Chopping vegetables? Let him collect them and put them in the pot for me. Picking up individual pieces kept him occupied for a looong time.
Needing to do laundry? My son loved collecting dirty things and throwing them into the baskets. And when it came time to switch the laundry over I’d put the wet laundry on the open dryer door and he’d have fun pushing it into the machine all by himself.
Needing to write a thank-you card or a letter of encouragement to someone? I gave my son a coloring book, markers and crayons and while he happily colored I flopped onto my belly next to him and wrote my card using the same markers. In his mind we were doing one of his favorite things together. In my
mind, I was seeing a big fat check mark on my to do list. (Even bigger bonus points if I could include his colored picture into that note of encouragement for someone.)
Needing to get my floor cleaned? Why not put a wet cloth on that Swiffer he was already pushing around and let him clean while he played? I could even take out the middle piece of the handle and make it perfect for his size.
See what I mean? A whole new world opened up for me when I realized that my son could take part in my own every day tasks. And the best part was that it also enabled us to spend time together; learning, creating and laughing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not super mom. Some days I have no creative ideas about how to involve him in what I’m doing and that’s when the high chair, a snack and “Curious George” on a screen become my best friends. And sometimes…that’s ok too.