Monday, March 15, 2010 11:42:46 AM America/Denver


Ever feel torn between your "to do" list and having fun with your child?  Just combine the two and have a guilt-free day.  Toddlers love to help and they love being by their parent's side, so look over that to-do list for the things that you and your child can do together.

Laundry time?  Even two-year-olds can help you sort the colors from the whites and have fun stuffing the clothes into the machine!  You can also make a game out of pairing up the loose socks once they come out of the dryer.  If you digress for a moment and make a sock puppet that sings in silly voices, it's OK!

Cooking -- Yes they can!  Have a roll of cookie dough?  Have your toddler slice it with a wooden or plastic spatula.  They can apply the non-stick spray to the cookie sheet and put the dough on it, too.  They can turn on the egg timer and watch it tick away.  Have some tubes of frosting?  Your kids can make  smiles and frowns and maybe even animal faces on the cookies.

Need to wrap some gifts?  My daughter loves the look, feel and sound of wrapping paper.  I lay a big sheet of it on the floor for her to hide under and play with or give her smaller pieces and she wraps "gifts" out of items found around the house.  The present giving and unwrapping game never gets old at our house!  I've learned to somewhat convincingly feign surprise and joy when unwrapping a wooden spoon.

Time to do the dishes?  Set up a station next to you or on the floor with a small bowl of soapy water and a dish towel.  Your child can "wash" plastic toys and safe kitchen items just like mom and dad.  Even small children can dry the unbreakable items.

Need to sweep the floors?  My 3-year-old son is fascinated with brooms and dust pans.  Give them an area to tidy up while you work close by or take turns sweeping and scooping.  Throw in a little "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" ("This is the way we sweep the floors, sweep the floors...") and sing and dance together.

It's faster to get through your to-do list on your own, but it's a much nicer day when fun and games with your child are part of the mix.  You might just find the slower pace and giggles were exactly what you needed.