Toddler Helpers

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If your toddler is anything like mine, then he or she loves to be a big helper (i.e. right underfoot) any time you clean. I have to keep Veronika safely contained when I do tricky chores like mopping floors or unloading breakable dishes! Here are a few tricks to keep your toddler as a true helper, not a hindrance.

Embracing your toddler’s presence makes all the difference. It helps to have a toy set of each item or tool for your child to use, although the “real” thing works too if you have duplicates or child-safe versions.

First up, dishes! When I’m washing dishes, I give Veronika a plastic set, along with a tray of just enough soapy water to get her dishes wet but not make a mess on the floor. This keeps her so busy while I knock out this chore!

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She also loves to “help” empty the dishwasher. I give her the baby utensils to sort, and she feels very important while I tackle the fragile plates and cups.

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Then there’s cleaning windows, a toddler chore made in heaven. Fill a spritz bottle with a little water, give your child a cloth, and let him or her go to town!

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And then there’s the aforementioned mopping. Now that Veronika has her own mini mop and bucket, I can set her loose in a safe, dry part of our home while I make the floor truly slippery and clean elsewhere.

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All this is fun and games, now, but it’s an important precursor to the first real chores down the road. How does your toddler “help” with chores? Laundry? Sheet day? Please share in the comments!

Wormy Apple Prank

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A couple months ago, Travis pulled pranks on family members with fake bug tricks. Today, it was my turn to pull a prank on him! For this one, simply use a chopstick to poke a deep hole into an apple.

Insert a gummy worm candy (Surf Sweets’ sour worms are vegan), and leave out where your unsuspecting victim will come across it.

Needless to say, this got a big laugh, an instant mood changer! Of course Travis then wanted to eat lots more worms.

Check out the full line-up of bug pranks here.

Paper Bag Shaker

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I came home from the grocery store with a few small paper bags today, the kind that’s just right for produce. Veronika immediately wanted to play with them, so we turned them into easy shakers!

First up was decorating with markers. Whenever she colors now, she names the color of each marker with such pride. “Black! Green! Yellow cap!”

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After this narrated decorating was through, I filled the bags with a little bit of unpopped corn kernels. (Dried beans or rice would work well, too). Secure with a rubber band. I added a ribbon on the first bag for a decorative touch, but she was more distracted by the ribbon than anything else, so we stuck to rubber bands on subsequent bags.

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We also learned by trial and error not to fill the bags too heavy with the popcorn. Lighter was much easier for her to shake.

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She got the hang of holding on to the top part (above the rubber band) for the best sound.

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And then there was just lots of exuberant shaking.

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I thought we might put on music, but I didn’t even get a chance! She just loved the cha cha cha noise these made. “Loud!” she said happily, and resumed shaking, often with one in each hand.

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Books in a Box

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You might read the title of this blog and think it’s about storing books in an easy-to-reach spot for your child (which, yes, is a great idea). But nope, I mean it more literally; a large enough box is just right for reading books in the box.

Veronika loves reading her “magazines” (Hello from Highlights) and I wanted to create a cozy spot where she could do so. To wit, I had a big box from a diaper delivery that was perfect for this activity.

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First, we needed to decorate it, and Veronika leaps at any chance to pull out her crayons!

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I thought she might like a cozy blanket and pillow nestled inside, along with a few books.

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It turns out she wanted nothing to do with the blanket. But soon was ensconced and rapt with her “reading”.

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Sometimes she wanted to turn the box on its side, more like a cave to crawl into and read.

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Sometimes it was more like her little reading boat.

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Add a snack if you want, or simply let reading be the draw. Whatever the case, she loved her little reading box!

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Tofu Salad

Tofu Salad

My kids love tofu, even when it’s served plain, but this easy salad is a flavorful spin to keep things fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1-pound) package firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  1. Place the tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork until crumbly.
  2. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, and carrot.

This is delicious on its own, but also great tucked into or served alongside pita bread.

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