Sometimes it feels as if the daily tasks of living cannot be accomplished with a toddler. Reading books and playing can easily occupy one for an entire morning, but then everyone gets hungry and tired, blueberries stain a new t-shirt while a mountain of clean laundry gets upended onto the dog-hair laden floor and nap time is interrupted by a heffalump; the prospect of cooking dinner looms.
What to do? Put your child to work! Toddlers love helping in the kitchen. As long as you accept a bit of extra clean-up time, cooking a simple dinner can be a fun and collaborative activity that not only feeds your family but provides an opportunity for learning.
Suggested menu: Soup, Veggie sticks and dip, easy drop or roll Biscuits.
With patience and help, even a 2-yr-old can prepare vegetables, measure ingredients and stir a pot. Safety is paramount, so proceed slowly and never leave your child unattended.
preheat oven to 450F
1 cup AP flour
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
5 tablespoons Cold Butter
7/8 cup Plain Yogurt
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor. (I find a food processor or stand mixer easier when baking with a child, until they have enough muscle control to avoid flipping half your ingredients onto the counter through exuberant stirring.) Cut in the cold butter until the mixture is evenly "sandy" in texture; there should be no lumps larger than a pea. Stir in the yogurt, turn onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly. Press dough into a 3/4" thick rectangle.
Use a biscuit cutter or simple cookie cutter to make desired shapes and sizes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of biscuit. Left over bits can be pinched together by little hands and rolled in parmesan cheese or cinnamon sugar before baking.
Sometimes the winter blahs set in. Cold, wet, grey outside. Pent-up kids and anxious caregivers inside. What everyone needs is a little easy outdoor time to release the energy, oxygenate the brain, and excite the senses. Here is Huckleberry's list of outside excursions that are doable in winter!
1. Puddle Stomping: Grab the rubber boots and muddy buddy, put a snack in your pocket, and leave a towel by the door to sop up the probable mess when you get home. Head for the nearest puddles and start stomping. Fun variation? Containers for pouring, plastic dinosaurs, leaf boats, amphibious vehicle (ie. nearest toy truck).
2. Pond Play: On the Coast you might trade an open ditch, pond or shallow creek for a puddle. Sticks make great fishing poles. In Gibsons, the pond behind the museum is very kid-friendly. Go after making some art at Little Hands, at the Arts Building on Mondays 10-11:30, $5 drop-in.
3. Beach Exploration: Boots, warm clothing and a toque are required for wintery beach play. Throw a fleece blanket in the stroller or car for wrapping up a chilly toddler on the way home. A thermos of something warm is a good idea too if you have the time to make tea, apple cider or hot chocolate.
Try throwing stones in the water; they make such satisfying sounds. Look for shells or pretty rocks, balance on logs, count ducks, write in the sand, watch passing boats and make up stories about where they might be going.
We have a lot of great beaches, but sometimes a level-entry is beneficial. Here is a short and no doubt incomplete list: Hopkins Landing, Soames Beach, Labonte Park on Bay Rd, Georgia Beach, Chaster/Bonnie Brook
Roberts Creek Mandala (also good for bike riding), Henderson Beach
Mission Point, Davis Bay
Sechelt Ocean Front via Boulevard or Ocean Ave
4. Your own backyard. It's so obvious, so overlooked. Bundle up and go scrunch leaves, gaze at the sky, throw/kick/roll a ball or drag a wagon around loading and unloading whatever can be found. Even 15 minutes makes a big difference to everyone's mood.
5. Trail Walks: Call it a hike, a parade, a science experiment or whatever makes the imaginations in your family run wild. For about 6 months my family called a forest walk "ghost hunting" and did a lot of calling out for ghosties while running down the trails. Depending on where you live and the physical ability of your toddler or baby-wearing self, there is a perfect forest trail.
Langdale: Sprock Kids Park has a host of trails perfect for short legs, plus a skills park of logs and boardwalks that is as thrilling to a new walker as mountain biking is to a teenager.
Gibsons: Shirley Macey Park has some beautiful trails behind the soccer field; be bear and frisbee golf aware, Soames Park & Hill has both flat and inclined trails, Whitetower Park leads up from Lower Gibsons and ends behind the Credit Union, also joining up to the Mahon Trail which runs down toward Secret Beach, plus intersects with Chaster Rd which leads onto Gospel Rock. There is a beach front trail leading east from Chaster Beach with several road access points.
Roberts Creek: Cliff Gilker Park is endlessly fun and always age-appropriate. Trails off the B&K Rd are more difficult for short legs.
Davis Bay: the playground across from Mission Point Park leads into a fun forest trail filled with carved trees; look for all the elves.
Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay: Smuggler's Cove is a wonderful day trip. Expect to carry your toddler for some of the trail, as it is a bit long if you want to go all the way to the water.
Living, working and playing with little Sunshine Coast kids.