By Christina VanGinkel
Create a list of objects, shapes, and colors that your kids have to find while shopping. Each child should be provided with their own list and a crayon for keeping track of their finds. Most kids aged two to three and up, should be able to accomplish this task. Be sure kids understand that they only have to see the object, shape, or color, the item does not have to be in the cart. Lists can be reprinted numerous times, so do not feel as if you have to spend tons of time creating a unique list each shopping occasion. There are no winners in this game, yet for each child that makes a concerted effort to fill their list with finds, they will be awarded a star. When so many stars are earned, to be determined by the parent, some small treat or reward could be given. If kids act up when shopping, instead of concentrating on filling their list with checks for those items they see, they will in turn, lose as tar, thus not getting any closer to earning a reward.
The old standby of providing a low cupboard for baby filled with child safe plastic ware, and a few noisy pots and lids is still my favorite. Do make sure the cupboard is nowhere close to the stove, but close enough so that you can monitor their actions. If your kitchen and family area are open, utilize a spot in the family room. Spills or splashes from a hot stove are a concern, and your children should never be allowed to play where such an accident could occur.
For very young children, place them in their high chair, dump a few tablespoons of water on their tray, and give them a few plastic spoons to splash around with. I commonly did this after a meal too, while I cleaned up the dishes. It actually helped me by making the tray that much easier to wipe clean.
Work at Home
Kids love to play grown up, and providing them with their own drawer of office supplies is by far the best way to keep them occupied while you get in some work hours at home. If you have the room, give them a desk and chair of their own too. Add a few age appropriate workbooks and you are sure to be able to get in at least a half an hour of work here and there.
We have all been there. It can hit any time of the day, morning, noon, or evening. The kids want entertaining, we want ten minutes of solitude. For the very young, put that playpen to use and put them in it, and always keep a few new amusements on hand for just such an occasion. Toddlers can usually be entertained by providing them with a bowl of water and a few measuring cups. Spread a couple of bath towels on your kitchen floor to help contain the spills, strip them down to their diapers, and le them play. You will have to keep them within sight, but they will be so occupied, you will be able to enjoy a cup of tea, or flip through the pages of a favorite magazine.
If everyone needs to be de stressed, pop in a CD of some fun tunes and get everyone dancing. It can strip away your stress, and use up some of that over bottled energy your toddlers are expressing. Dancing fast, then dancing slow, ending on a slow song, can be a great prelude to naptime.
Kids love to partake of tasks that are outside of their normal routine. Letting them splash around with water, pretending to be grownups at the office, dancing, and more are all great ways to break up the monotony of playing with their usual toys, and following their regular schedules. When you need to keep the kids occupied, ask yourself what they have not done in a while that they love to do. If they are occupied in a task they enjoy, chances are you will be able to carve out a few minutes doing whatever task it is you want to accomplish.