My little guy (20 months) enjoyed helping me make homemade whole wheat bread today. The last few weeks I’ve been learning to make bread. It’s very satisfying to knead and pound dough. I put my toddler next to me on a stool or in his high chair and let him maneuver the flour. He likes to trace his finger through it and sprinkle it on our dogs. Then I let him mix the flour and water and feel the sticky, pasty dough. Ounce it gets completely covered with flour and is nice and soft, it’s like playing with play-doh. We talk through the process of letting it rise and baking it in the oven. He never takes the hot bread out of the oven but he likes to put on the oven mitts just the same. It kind of makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Clean-up is just as much a part of the process as making the bread. B loves to help wash dishes, wipe down the counter, and sweep the floor. It’s amazing how difficult it is for me to let him do the work himself. Maybe because I know I can do it MUCH faster and it’s easy to think the “activity” is over – now go play! Today we worked for almost 30 minutes cleaning up dry rice that had spilled during a transferring activity (B will spoon the rice between two small bowls). It was very challenging for him to push the rice into the dustpan! Since he was intent on doing it and was not getting frustrated, I let him do it himself. It was more challenging for me to keep quiet and not interfere! He’s generally happier and more interested in helping the more I let him do things by himself.
In the afternoon, we had to run lots of errands around town. Everything goes much more smoothly (meaning no temper tantrums) when I go at a very slow pace, or I should say B’s pace. I internally want to get the errand down AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. I would think B would agree with me if he knew that meant more time on the playground when we are all down. But that’s not how it works. We have a much better time when I go at a slow, toddler pace. That means, lots of breaks for snacks, singing, talking with people, checking out signs and picture, and generally observing the world. At one store, B and I spent a LONG time swinging before getting back into the car. We had to try both swings and switch back and forth several times. Ah, I love how my toddler makes me a better person – someone who stops to smell the roses and not force the bloom!
Daddy was very patient with B while they decorated the tree! Everything is more fun with a toddler when you’re willing to go at their pace! Even the cat got involved. 😉