Getting into Everything

Shana Taylor* is an experienced mom of three kids. She's been learning on the job--the mom job, that is--and is happy to share her tricks of the trade. "I realized that my expectations were unrealistic. Toddlers follow you wherever you go and like to imitate you. It wasn't realistic to expect my boys to play happily in the living room while I was folding laundry in another room. I learned that if I wanted a peaceful household, I was going to have to go with the flow."

Educational Chores

"That meant that I had to make space for my kids to be alongside me as I did my chores. They wanted to copy whatever I was doing, and it made sense to me that this was educational, so I decided to make it easier on both me and the kids."

"So, wherever I go, I have 'toys' that aren't really toys, but just household items that are safe for play. For instance, in the kitchen, I'll give him a stack of plastic bowls and wooden spoons. In the laundry room, I give him a little basket with some clothes in it, say old socks without matches, or little t-shirts. He tries to fold them."

"When we go outside to hang laundry, I give him some clothespins I bought because the hinges seemed not to be the type that could snap onto and hurt his little fingers. He tries to hang his basket of clothes. He loves that."

Full Attention

Marley Baston* has a different viewpoint. "I try to do housework while my little girl is napping, so that she has my full attention when she's awake. I always have at least one planned activity. If it's hot, I might do water play. Sometimes I'll just spread old newspapers all over the table and let her loose with finger paint. Whatever activity I plan, I do it with her. I have old clothes just for messy times.

Sometimes I get her to cooperate by having her be the mommy. That means that when I give her a bath, I tell her to give her dolly a bath. I give her a washcloth and a little towel for her doll. She also has to lay out her doll's clothing for after the bath, so she can dress the baby doll right away. I explain that this is so her doll won't get a chill. I feel that this is kind of educational. It teaches a bit of childcare, and develops the side of her that will hopefully, one day be nurturing."

*Names have been changed.