To keep your child busy while you throw a meal together, put him to work. He'll feel like a grownup and you'll be able to accomplish something more involved than just crisping up some frozen chicken nuggets. A few jobs he'll get a real kick out of doing for you:
Hand him your grungy spice jars (be sure the lids are screwed on tightly) along with a toothbrush, a bowl of water, and a dish towel. Encourage him to scrub each one clean, then dry it.
Give him a sponge, a spray bottle filled with water, and a towel. Point out the dirty cabinet knobs within his reach and ask him to wipe them down.
Have him help you measure some ingredients. Set out a measuring cup, a spoon, and a bowl of, say, rice, and show him how to transfer it spoonful by spoonful into the cup.
Scan your recipes for other tasks he could tackle, such as brushing melted butter on bread, rubbing an oil-dampened paper towel on a baking sheet, or spooning grated cheese onto a pizza.
- Turn him into a food or table stylist. Ask him to arrange slices of fruit into circles or squares, or let him sprinkle chopped-up chives or parsley onto each plate. He can also color paper napkins with washable markers to decorate the table.