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How to Cook Dinner with a Clingy Toddler

Apr 14, 2008
My son has always been a delight in my life. Even when he was a clingy toddler and it was time to make dinner, and he really wanted Mommy's attention... now! Not Daddy. Mommy.

I always found that made it really hard for me to cook.

It's something many a parent has dealt with as children are raised. Trying to pass the kids off to the parent not in the kitchen (assuming you're not home alone with the kids) can be a real challenge. Here's how I sometimes coped.

Get supplies out to make dinner. Pick son up and show him what was going to be made. Answer half-clear questions about whatever catches his interest.

Try to put son down. Calm his tears as he insists he just wants Mommy. Try to disentangle his arms so that you can get cooking. Settle for him clinging to one leg as you prepare the food for cooking.

Decide having a child clinging to your leg is not a good idea when you're actually cooking the food. Try to distract him with a favorite toy. No go.

Pull lettuce out of the fridge and announce that you'll be having a salad with dinner. Set up a place for toddler to tear up lettuce and wash his hands. It doesn't really matter that you'll be eating a combination of almost whole leaves and microscopic lettuce particles, does it?

Toddler tires of lettuce and wants to help you cook. Tries to open oven. Fortunately, you're cooking on the stove top tonight. Remove him from the kitchen.

Back he comes. Pry him off your leg again and set up a stool for him to watch from a safe distance. He's not happy, but you can reach him and give a pat or a hug as needed. Give him the lettuce again and suggest that he could tear the leaves smaller. Watch as more microscopic portions are removed.

He wants to help mooooore! Ideally by stirring that nice pot of boiling water you have there. Time to find another toddler-safe job! Have him watch you chop more vegetables for the salad, and let him throw those in. Just keep the knife well away from those eager little fingers! And don't underestimate a toddler's ability to stretch.

Finish cooking dinner as fast as is reasonable. Hope he stays distracted long enough.

Time to set the table. Another thing clingy toddlers love to help with. Thank goodness for forks, spoons and any toddler-safe dishes you may choose to use. Allow him to help and ignore the many fingerprints his previously clean hands leave all over the place. Dirt appears to be magnetically attracted to toddlers. Hope that the salad is reasonably sanitary.

Call the rest of the family in for dinner. Hope that you get more than two bites in before your toddler demands that he be allowed to eat his dinner on your lap rather than in his chair.

Be grateful that your toddler loves you so much, even as you look forward to a little break after the kids are in bed.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster wrote One Arm Recipes with busy parents in mind. Visit http://www.onearmrecipes.com/ and buy the ebook to learn more about how to cope with kids who just won't stay out of the way when you need to cook.
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