7 Ways To Keep Your Tot Busy While You Make Dinner, Pay Bills Or Chat On The Phone.

There’s something about a parent getting on the phone or trying to do the dishes that makes your tot suddenly (and desperately!) need you at that exact second. Although there must be some cosmic rule that will never change this phenomenon, parents can avoid the battle of kids and the kitchen with these 7 ways to keep your tot entertained.
By Michelle Bruns

According to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), preschoolers are expected to spend over half of their time playing on their own by the age of three years old. And, by the time children reach kindergarten, they are expected to have a 15 minute attention span. 

Unless you have a 15-minute meal cookbook (we are still waiting for Rachel Ray to scale back her 30 minute dinners), here are a few tips to keep your kiddie entertained while you get dinner on the table.
Fridge-Front Activities
Since tots will inevitably end up in the kitchen, keep them from being underfoot by taking advantage of your fridge…the front of it, that is. There are tons of toys and games that have magnetic backs that stick right on the refrigerator and seem to maintain their novelty. If hesitant to drop a cool twenty bucks on toys such as LeapFrog’s Fridge DJ, then classics like magnetic letters and numbers will keep them entertained while teaching them the foundations for their education.
Kitchen Aides
Crunched for time or want the simplest solution? Your darling babe probably just wants to be like Mommy or Daddy, working busily in the kitchen. Instead of fighting their urge to be in the middle of the action, pull out some extra pots, pans, and utensils like soft spatulas and wooden spoons for them to play with. If kitchen conflict happens daily, designate a low cabinet filled with appropriate plastic storage containers and kid-appropriate kitchen items you can feel comfortable knowing he can access while you’re whipping up dinner.
Play Food
Although playing with pork chops isn’t appropriate, pulling out the play food for your little chef in the making is a great strategy when you’re busy in the kitchen. Play food, such as this colorful, plastic set ($16.99) from Toys 'R' Us, can help teach kids about foods that are good for them and is a clever way to let them get familiar with what they’ll be eating throughout their lifetime.
Play-Doh Time
Whoever invented Play-Doh should be both praised for their ingeniousness and reprimanded for making something that doesn’t seem to come out of the carpet…ever. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand, with the right floor covering and a table to sit at, this simple invention is guaranteed to give you enough time to work your culinary magic.

Heading to the store isn’t your only option. You can whip up your own salt dough right at home and let your sweetie’s imagination sore. Click here for an easy recipe for homemade Play-Doh.

Let ‘em Stir
If your child is old enough, getting them involved in the prep work is easy when you let them stir, pour, and gather ingredients. Dinner preparation may take a little longer this way, but chances are that your little one will feel satisfied with having participated and let you finish up your tasks. You never know…you might be inspiring a blossoming chef!

Feed Them First
Putting your youngster at the dinner table with some grub may be the key to feeding the rest of the family. Give them some of the veggies or fruit that will be part of the meal anyway. Kids tend to eat slower, so there is still plenty of family time over dinner by the time the rest of the family sits. Food shouldn’t be the answer to entertaining your youngster, but on those days that your little one is extremely clingy, once in a while shouldn’t hurt.

Reserved Toys
Along the same lines as rotating your child’s toys, a box or container filled with toys reserved for dinner prep time may help keep your tike entertained. Books, puzzles, and toys that he can play with on his own (avoid frustrating items or board games that require you to participate) may seem more entertaining since he isn’t able to access them any old time.

Every child is different, so finding the right activity for you and your child while you cook dinner may be a learning process. But, with a few tries and a little bit of patience, dinner will be served before you know it!

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