I think sometimes those parts of our day that trip us up the most are the expected, anticipated, regular ones. The waking up with babies who need you immediately, the toddler who kicks and screams with every diaper change, the grocery store trip (aaahhh!), bedtime or cooking dinner with little kids who really do need to be watched and want your constant attention.
For so long cooking dinner was the part of my day I dreaded. I knew I would park my kids infant of the tv for too long so I could unload the dishwasher, start cooking, finish cooking, clean up the pots and pans and place everything on the table before calling them in. With encouragement and vision casting from my husband we started a new habit. As with all new habits it was painful at first, my quiet cooking dinner hour was gone, I had to encourage and teach and multitask when I wanted to run and hide. But, after a few days I began to see the success.
Here are my survival-for-cooking-dinner ideas that we used and worked!!!
1. Pattern blocks: this is great for 3 year olds and up. Can be done as a group or individually
2. preschool work books let them explore new things without any pressure and they think its fun! we loved the scissors one because I was close enough to watch while they felt independent! (Amazon, the Dollar Store, Target all have lots of options)
3. Kinetic sand (warning: I prefer this for my older kids 5 and 6), it is moldable and not as messy and beach sand but don't be fooled it isn't clean. An older kid can keep it contained on a tray keeping them engaged and busy with minimal clean up.
4. jigsaw puzzles with 25ish pieces were also a hit wth the 5 and 6 year olds. Difficult enough for them to take time but possible for them to accomplish on their own.
5. Wooden cutting food was great for our 18 month old until he was 3. He felt like he was cooking with me. I typically put him in his high chair for containment and so he didn't disrupt the older two kids.
This new habit created peace, it created a special time to look forward to and it allowed dinner to be cooked without the house being torn apart and our children to not zoning out on an hour of tv later in the day than we wished (no judgement on your screen time rules!!!)
If cooking dinner feels like an insurmountable task to you try something new this week, be creative, be brave...you might just be surprised at what you were able to enjoy and accomplish!
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