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I’m not sure that balance truly exists for parents. I’ve been searching for this elusive concept for quite some time (right around the time Melissa Oholendt took our family photos when Bodhi was 5 months old), and while I’m certainly content, I don’t feel like I have a balance at all. The reality of parenting is that the child comes first. Bodhi always comes first. His comfort, his naps, his meals, his need for stimulation and learning, his need to play outside and get exercise… everything and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo by the lovely Gina Zeidler

While I don’t feel like I have balance yet or may never have balance, I have started to find some processes (see 5-minute clean-up post), tips and other things that make life just a little easier. They may be things that everyone but me knows, but I’m going to start sharing these things in a series called Balance.

In the case of it helping even one other parent who hasn’t had time to research child safety or mealtime or sleep or bedtime or how to keep the house clean, it’s worth it. And I hope all you parents out there can comment with your little tips and tricks for efficiency, comfort, ease of doing things, child happiness, parent happiness and more. Today is all about the kitchen.

Creating a kid-friendly kitchen 

We went without latches on the drawers and doors for a long time until we got incredibly tired of saying “no” constantly.

We purchased Safety 1st Grip ‘n’ Go cabinet locks in white through Amazon and left the drawers as they are. We also gave Bodhi one small cabinet. He stored his play food there for months until he got a play kitchen last fall. He is still too short to reach most of our drawers and the ones he can reach, we decided to give to him. He knows what is in them and knows what he can have. We leave things like bibs, place mats and plastic dishes, utensils etc… in the low drawers.

The cabinet latches have been great. We’ve had them for almost a year and he hasn’t once taken one off of the doors.

We also splurged on the Little Partners Learning Tower. You can read my thoughts and review of the product on Buy Modern Baby. If you have a toddler or child who really wants to help all the time, this may be for you. There are some other less expensive options to check out as well, but I can honestly say that this has been life-changing for us, especially at dinner time. Several of my friends recently told me that their children have no problem standing on a regular step stool, so if that’s the case for your kids, go with it! That’s awesome! That is not the case with my guy.

Allowing Bodhi room to explore in the kitchen has taken care of most of our challenges. He is less likely to just go after something because he does have access to a lot. We also give him something to help with almost every night. And if there is nothing to have him help with when preparing dinner, I make something up.

The best success so far has been banana almond butter dough. That’s what I called it.

Recipe for keeping a toddler busy in the kitchen

Ingredients:
1-ripe banana
1 T almond butter
1 bib or apron
2 spoons or measuring cups
Learning tower or safe stool

Optional:
Sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Place your child at the kitchen counter and clear the space around his/her work space.
  2. Place almond butter and banana in a large metal or plastic bowl. Give your child spoons (yes, plural).
  3. Allow your child to smoosh it, squish it, eat it, stir it, get dirty in any way they want and just let it go.
  4. Seriously, let it go. It’s messy. It’s crazy, but it will buy you 15 solid minutes (or more). I promise.
  5. If your child is really curious and isn’t super occupied, add in sprinkles. I don’t allow many, but I let him pour in a few pretty sprinkles from my baking cabinet.

My guy has been known to stay occupied for 25 minutes and also to eat all of it. Since it’s a fairly healthy option, I’m fine with that. Even before dinner, it’s completely ok with me.

What sanity-saving tips can you offer other parents? Have you found things that work or don’t work in the kitchen?

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