Most toddlers love to be close to you and involved in anything and everything you do.
Sometimes this is tricky and you would just prefer them to be playing out of the way while you get on with things, but quite often it is actually easier to allow them to join in.
Plus, they'll learn so much if they're allowed to be involved in your jobs. Don't forget to praise them for their help. If they see how much they pleased you, they may well help again!
How CBeebies can help
There are a number of programmes and websites that encourage young toddlers to join in with what you do and that may provide you with some day-to-day activities that may be suitable.
In Come Outside, Auntie Mabel and Pippin the dog carry out some simple tasks and then investigate something more complex, such as exploring how paper is made. Most toddlers will find both Pippin and Auntie Mabel very engaging, even if some of the concepts are more appropriate for pre-schoolers.
As both Auntie Mabel and Pippin are 'real', it provides a grounding in reality, as well as an opportunity to develop an understanding of the world.
Something Special is simple, fun and informative and each programme focuses on aspects of the children's world about them.
Justin is often out and about with the children, whilst Mr Tumble is at home doing chores or causing mayhem. It has a gentle pace and is great for encouraging parent/child interaction whilst simultaneously teaching sign language.
Big Cook, Little Cook and I Can Cook are both programmes that may provide you with some simple ideas of recipes to make with your little one. Both include songs that engage the children in the concept of preparation, washing hands and tidying up, which has to be a good thing!
How to make a magic moment
If it's time to make lunch, pop your little one in a high chair in the kitchen, give her some plastic utensils, real food or play dough, and tell her how fabulous she is at whisking, chopping etc! Don't worry if she's doing it 'right' or not, as her play is about exploration, discovery and experiment. She'll watch you and copy or perhaps do her own thing.
By all means show her how she could do things, but if she chooses to do it differently (or incorrectly in your opinion) then let her. If you interrupt too much you're likely to spoil the whole fun learning process.
Cooking and baking with a toddler is a huge learning experience and great fun (albeit a bit messy). There are lots of great children's cookbooks in the library or bookshop to inspire you or just involve them in whatever you wish to make.
Cooking and baking from scratch helps your toddler understand simple maths (big packets versus small packets, heavy versus light, plus weights and measures). It helps with fine motor skills (e.g. picking up small items or decorating a cake). It also encourages concentration, imagination and language development.
Talk to your toddler throughout the process, describing what is happening - e.g. “We're greasing the cake tin so that nothing gets stuck”, “Let's get the eggs out of the fridge” and so on. Ask your toddler to hand you measuring cups and spoons, or the dry ingredients.