When Toddlers Capitalize on Distracted Mom Time and How to Keep Them Busy

img_4850I recently found myself in tears after nursing my six-month-old daughter and discovering my two-year-old standing triumphantly on the kitchen counter in the middle of a concoction of several spices that he had emptied from their jars. My eyes darted frantically across the mess, trying to devise a way to return the precious spices to their jars. I quickly realized that, unless I was comfortable with a combination of garlic salt, cayenne pepper and a bit of nutmeg, it was unlikely that any would be salvaged. So much for no crying over spilled spices.

I’m convinced that my two-year-old wanders around, taking inventory of all he hopes to accomplish when mom is occupied. Dump spices? Check. Unroll all of the toilet paper? That sounds fantastic. Smear an entire jar of peanut butter on the dog? Can’t wait. And, yes, all of those things have actually happened.

It has taken me six months, but I think I am finally to the point to, cautiously, say, I think I’ve figured out a way to navigate this particular issue… sometimes. And it is to simply Choose My Mess.

This means leaving out the box of play dough and cookie cutters and being okay with some of the hardened pieces ending up inside the trash and the colors getting mixed together. This means a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of crayons and a stack of coloring books on the kitchen floor. This means free reign on the bubbles in the backyard.

Maybe this isn’t a difficult concept for some of you. But, for me? I really like it when the play doh colors are in their correct containers, untainted by other colors. I really, really like for all of the crayons to stay in their wrappers. And, I don’t particularly enjoy bubbles dumped out into my flower beds.

But, this is a mess of my choosing. And it is a mess I prefer over dumped spices, shredded paper towels, or plant food distributed evenly across every square foot of my home.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Tags: distracted, mess, toddlers

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