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How to entertain your kids while you cook dinner

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Independent activities to occupy your kids

Keeping kids from hanging onto your legs while you attempt to get dinner made is nothing short of a miracle — but with a few clever activities for kids, you’ll have your meal on the table in no time!
Kid washing vegetables

From creating window art to sitting down for reading time, find out how to entertain your kids while you cook dinner.

Mommy’s little helper

Toddlers, preschoolers and big kids love to feel like they’re helping. That’s why kitchen activities for kids such as stirring, age-appropriate cutting , washing dishes or even “sorting” plastic containers or utensils will keep kids happy — and busy. Grade-school-aged kids can also help set the table so you can keep him occupied while still keeping one eye on him.

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Window art

Using foam bath toys and a little water, your kids can create a masterpiece on the window or sliding glass door while you cook your cares away. Simply set your child up with a bucket of foam shapes and a slightly dampened sponge in a plastic container and watch as her idle hands are kept busy while you prepare dinner.

Stashed toys

Toys are always more appealing when they’re reserved for special times — like when Mommy’s making dinner! Simply store toys designated for dinner preparation in a plastic storage tote or canvas bag where your youngster cannot reach them, and only pull them out to keep kids entertained while you cook.

Craft time

Whether you let your kids doodle and glitter up a printed photo or set up your kids with a low-maintenance art project, craft activities for kids are a tried-and-true solution for entertaining kids while you cook dinner. Other activities for kids perfect for the kitchen table include coloring, drawing or playing with clay.

Enlist older siblings to help

Make sure the little ones stay safe while lending a helping hand with easy tasks, such as helping your youngest kids wash their hands or clean up toys. The extra hand will not only free up your own, but also give older siblings a chance to pitch in with the family routine.

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Serve up healthy snacks

While you don’t want to spoil your child’s appetite, you can keep kids busy while you cook by serving your child raw veggies you’re already including in tonight’s meal. Just be sure to avoid foods that are choking hazards for younger tots — and keep your kiddo seated securely at the dinner table within arm’s reach of where you’re cooking.

Pretend to cook

Take a large Tupperware storage container, fill it with uncooked ingredients your child may see you use like dried beans, uncooked pasta and rice to keep kids busy. Then, pair with small bowls, measuring cups, a wooden spoon or even empty food boxes to make your youngster feel like she’s cooking along with you.

Book time

Especially during the school year, a hectic bedtime routine makes for little time to do assigned reading. So, instead of struggling to make the minimum reading requirement when it’s time to hit the hay, have your youngster read while you’re making dinner. For kids who are not yet ready to read, set them down in a quiet spot to listen to audio books while you whip up a family feast.

Regardless of how you choose to entertain your kids while you cook dinner, the most important thing to remember is to keep your youngster within eyesight. Even when older siblings are pitching in, the responsibility to keep your kids safe still lands on your busy shoulders.

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