1. Yeah, like I am totally on board to do this but I get so overwhelmed with the idea of it. My daughter is 16 months and I’ve had her do tasks like rinse the berries she eats for breakfast and clean up spills, pick up toys, put stuff back, etc. But the actual cooking process or cleaning process I’m at a loss with. I WANT her involved, and maybe this is my novice worldview at work here(24 yo barely knowing how to cook anyway), but I don’t know how to get her involved with dinner or lunch. I feel like I’m always scrambling to be on time and keep with this routine I’ve developed and it doesn’t fit in the extra time to have her participate. The amount of mom guilt I have I sickening. I understand I need to plan more and slow down, which all the more feeds the guilt. So, I guess I’m taking you up on your offer at the end of this article for help or suggestions.

    1. Hi Leah,
      Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot describe how happy I am that you responded. Thanks for opening up and being vulnerable. My fear when sharing this idea was that I would make someone’s mom guilt worse, which is the opposite of why I wrote this.

      I plan to send you an email, but I wanted to share some of my first thoughts here too for anyone else who stumbles across this. It sounds like you already use many developmentally appropriate ways to involve your daughter in your daily tasks/chores. Totally solid foundation and I hope you can see how awesome is it that you make time for that!

      I’d love to dig more into the routine you have that makes you feel like you’re scrambling. Sometimes the chaos of scrambling feels more comfortable (because it becomes our normal). I think you might have found the best next steps when you said “plan more” and “slow down.” Especially the slow down part.

      My other thought is how can your daughter spend time around you while you are cooking/cleaning that doesn’t require to actually be involved? Without knowing you two, my kind of “basic” suggestions would be telling stories (fairy tales or just stories about you and your family), singing songs, or bringing out a special basket of toys during these times.

      Thank you again Leah! I look forward to talking with you more.

    2. Hi Leah (and Alysia!) –
      Mom of a 2yo and 7mo here. I’m still bumbling through each day, but 16 months was TOUGH. It’s the magical cross section of expanding skill sets and zero discipline. But this article really resonated with me, and I’ll share how I got my boy involved without losing my mind too often. I have him tasks that looked like involvement and/or helping, but we’re actually just on the periphery. While I measured flour, or stock, sugar, whatever, I gave him a non-breakable bowl and cup of flour/sugar/watery (anything that wouldn’t stain) and let him pour it back and forth. I also got a toddler stool so he could safely stand beside me at the counter. Messes were inevitable, but I set him and myself up for success by using easy to clean materials and tried to give him positive feedback (good pouring, buddy!). I also learned that opening the dishwasher wide created a great little wet work station for him. Long story short, incorporating my little helper was more about letting him work beside me, not necessarily ‘with’ me. I’m also a huge proponent of reusing cardboard, and I’ve made tiny ovens, fridges, etc in 15 minutes or less for him to pretend play while I make real food. It’s not perfect, but we get along pretty well.

      1. Oh my goodness Christy! Yes yes yes. I love this. I was grinning while reading it. Such a great point that your toddler gets to be “involved” in a way that works magically for both of you. And he’s still learning and observing while playing nearby. One day he will be ready to work “with” you, but it sounds like you found a golden balance at the moment. Thank you for sharing and I hope other readers get a moment to read your experience.


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