One of the first challenges I've had to face as a new stay-at-home-mom is simply: how to get basic household chores done when I have a little helper who insists on doing her part? I don't want to discourage her from being involved in what I'm doing and I haven't found a satisfactory distraction technique. So most of the time I try to find a safe way to let her give a hand, even if the hand makes the job take much, much, much longer.
When cooking, I used to be able to set her up with a pile of tupperware and some spoons and she was happy doing her own thing while I prepared a meal. Now she wants to be right in the middle of the kitchen with me. But there are hot things and dangerous items in the kitchen, oh no!!!
Well, I've decided to approach kitchen safety like gun safety. If I teach her how to use the kitchen properly so that she is comfortable with it and aware of the dangers, instead of simply telling her she can't touch anything, she is much less likely to get hurt. (Don't worry, the guns are still locked up around here...this is just what's called an analogy ;-). Hence, you see that the burner to Aurelia's left in the picture above is red and hot. And she is happily cooking "chicken" or "rice" or "fries" or "soup", whichever her imagination alternately conjures up.
I also let her help me open the oven door when we bake something, showing her where it is safe to touch and where she would get burned. So far, so good. And I believe that allowing her a small level of independence makes it easier for her to accept when she really can't help with something, like actually taking something out of the oven or cooking with hot oil.