At 21 months old, Pippo is feeling pretty big these days, both to himself and to us. He just loves being able to do things by himself, or to help one of us get something important done, whether it's helping Daddy take off his boots after work or having his own cloth to wipe down the table with Mama.
The shape of my day is changing, as more and more of my own daily tasks are changing from "work I can only get done while the baby is in bed" to "activities my baby thinks are fun!" It's work for me, and both work and play for him: he is learning to take his part in the order of the house and the life of our family in his own little way.
I've been rearranging things and routines around the house lately to make it easier for him to help (and "help"), and thought I'd show you some of his favorite little jobs these days.
Pippo helps me unload the dishwasher by handing me the things he can reach (gently, one at a time), and then I put them up on the shelves. We moved his dishes into this drawer that he can reach on his own, which means that he when unloads his own plates, bowls, and utensils, he puts them away himself.
Then, when it's time to eat, I tell him what he needs ("get yourself a plate and a fork!"), and he runs over to pull them out.
(One of his favorite jokes is to pull out the wrong thing -- a spoon instead of a fork, for instance -- and proudly show it to me with a mischievous smile, a shake of his head, and a big "Noooooo!")
I recently moved everything out of the cupboard under the sink except for the trash and recycling, in part because he loves to throw things away for us (heck, anything involving trash and/or trash trucks is a big thrill around here), and I wanted him to be able to do that without me having to unlock the door for him.
But there were also some cleaning supplies in there (which is why the doors were locked), and he would get excited every time he saw the dishwasher detergent. There are only so many dishwasher-related meltdowns one mama can take.
Now the soap only comes out when it's time to run the dishwasher, and the toddler can throw trash away by himself. Win-win.
I mentioned that I got a new vacuum cleaner recently, and it has revolutionized my life. Not only does it work like a dream, but the best part is that Pippo loves it! This is huge, since he was terrified of my old, upright vacuum. Up until a few months ago, I vacuumed downstairs only during his naps, and upstairs... not as often as I should have.
I don't know if it's the novelty of the thing or just that the canister design is less intimidating, but now, he gets excited whenever I suggest that we get ready to vacuum. He helps me tidy up beforehand and then follows me around with his little cart (which he decided is his new vacuum).
His favorite part of all is pressing the button to wind up the cord when we're done.
Another of his favorite jobs -- right up there with starting the dishwasher -- is helping me make my pot of iced tea. I give him two bowls and a stack of teabags: he opens them up and puts the tea in one bowl and the trash in the other. Then I give him the trash to throw away (by himself, of course, since he can now get at the bin on his own), we put the tea into the pot, and pour in the hot water.
He just watches that last part, of course, but he loves seeing all the steam and telling me how hot it is.
(He has studied my teabags to the point where now he points out all the Lipton brand products in the grocery store. Who knew there were so many?)
He loves to help with the cooking too, especially when there is measuring, stirring, or pressing buttons involved.
The other day we made Smitten Kitchen's homemade goldfish crackers together (which were, incidentally, easy and delicious).
He helped pour in the ingredients and did all the mixing -- I turned around for a minute, and they were done!
|This boy really doesn't like aprons, but he will consent to me safety-pinning a towel around him.|
I am really excited about this stool that we found him (from IKEA -- simple, sturdy, and cheap. Perfect!), that lets him reach the counters easily and safely.
I pull it over when I have a job for him to do. He can just barely move it around himself, but not without making a lot of noise. This is perfect, as far as I'm concerned, because it makes it harder for him to get into trouble without me knowing about it. I don't always want my toddler to be able to reach the counters!
Last week our Friday night pizza was ready on time for the first time in ages, because instead of waiting for his daddy to get home to play with Pippo while I did the final, messy preparations, I gave Pippo his own piece of dough to pat and roll while I worked.
(This brought back such memories of my mom giving Nick, me, and Suzanne each our own little ball of dough to roll out while she made bread. We would diligently knead it and pat it into our little baking dishes and sprinkle it with cinnamon and raisins. In turn, she would bake ours along with the big loaves. I always expected mine to taste basically like a delicious sticky bun, but somehow it always came out like a hard, dry, bitter cinnamon roll. That didn't stop us from trying again next time!)
|Poor kid. It didn't occur to me at first that I should knead some flour into his piece to make it less sticky.|
We may make a little bit more of a mess (no worries: new vacuum, remember?), but we both love doing our work together.
|Our deal was that he could eat anything that dripped onto the pan, but he wasn't allowed to stick his finger into the cupcakes themselves.|