It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pre-toddler in possession of natural curiosity and energy, must be in want of entertainment. Clumsy Austen references aside, this is a fact that certainly rings true for me most hours of the day, in direct conflict with the fact that as a stay at home mum, I also have a certain amount of chores and housework that needs completing in order for a safe and sane running of the household.
Despite the fact that my darling son still goes down for two naps a day (one in the morning and one after lunch), there are simply not enough hours of baby sleep time during the day for me to complete said tasks. Therefore, many of these jobs must be done during his waking hours. And therein lies the conundrum.
Baby and toddler books advise including your child in some of your busywork. I have found allowing him to help me unpack the shopping bags (after frantically removing potentially dangerous cleaning goods and squashables like eggs, soft fruit and bread) is a worthy, if drawn out source of excitement. He's mildly diverted by rolling cans of tomatoes across the kitchen floor as well as dropping them on my toes when I'm not quick enough to jump out of the way.
Folding the washing is also great fun for him, though not necessarily so for me, as recently he has taken to flinging carefully folded items out of the basket quicker than I can get them in, then proceeding to use them as rags with which to wipe the usually less than sparklingly clean floor. He's obviously seen me doing the same thing on many occasions (not with the clean washing, I hasten to add) and wants to 'help Mummy'.
Oscar also absolutely adores the vacuum cleaner (what a blessing!). Rather than being frightened by its loud bellow, he gleefully 'helps' me by pushing it around behind me, raising his legs up to stagger and awkwardly bending over to propel it before him, occasionally switching it off completely by resting his hands on the power panel. He shouts with joy as he does this, attempting to out-sing this loud and demanding electrical beast that his mother seems to want to play with all the time.
The problem with the vacuum cleaner, of course, is that it drowns out all other sounds, including those of him fooling about somewhere else in the house after he's lost interest in it. Mere seconds have passed with my back turned, before he's off again, his little hands slap-slapping on the floor purposefully as he heads into the bathroom, to visit his current favourite self-created distraction, the toilet.
Lid open or shut, it does not matter to Oscar as he hoists up the lid and seat at the same time, his chubby hand reaching into the bowl and clawing at the water mysteriously housed in there, cold and deceptively pristine.
On at least three occasions this week, I have been too slow on the uptake to prevent him dipping into this irresistible font, and at, times too late, I have also caught him posting treasured items into it, such as a half eaten rusk, a full roll of loo paper and even a freshly washed and folded pair of my undies from the washing basket.
The bathroom door now remains resolutely shut, for obvious reasons. However, it does necessitate being open when I myself need to use the facilities, and it is usually during this unavoidable circumstance that Oscar will strike. I can only flush with lightening speed before he attacks.
These domestic distractions aside, I've found by far and away the best and most diverting of all is Daddy. His presence at the weekend is both a joy and a delight for both me and the baby. For the baby, an endlessly funny and interesting source of entertainment, compared to Mummy, who by comparison is just boring. Not that I mind – it means I am free to pursue my own distractions, especially those involving a long bath and a good book. With the bathroom door closed.
How do you distract your toddler? What mischief do they get up to when your back is turned?