Breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus snacks, bottles, and oh yes, cleanup — it all adds up to quite a bit of time spent within the walls of my kitchen each day. My almost three-year-old daughter is my big helper and adores being involved in whatever I am doing, but my 11-month-old boy is another story. Not content to sit still, he prefers to be active at all times, which can make it challenging to keep him safe and engaged while simultaneously making dinner or tackling some other task.
My answer to this dilemma? A drawer full of treasures all his own.
I've emptied out a lower kitchen drawer, one that offers a safe distance from the dangers of the stove, and I've filled it with the kids' cups, plates, bowls, and other plastic items. Whenever I start working, I open it up and let him at it. While all other cupboards are off limits, he's free to empty the contents if this drawer onto the floor if he wants, and I often find him converting bowls into drums and utensils into drumsticks, making music to his heart's content. Once I'm done with what I'm doing or he loses interest, everything goes back in the drawer until next time.
Here are some of tips that have helped this be successful for us:
• Large items only. Items with small parts that could pose a choking hazard should be stored elsewhere.
• Give him space. I generally avoid using the countertop that is above where he is sitting. The last thing I want to do is accidentally drop something on his head!
• Keep an eye out. Having your child close makes it easier to watch him, but don't assume that he's safe just because he's nearby.
• Rinse it off. Since the items in this drawer are going to be handled a good bit, it's smart to rinse them well before using.
How do you keep your younger children busy while working in the kitchen?
(Image: Christie Ellis)