Photo by Esben Emborg
It sounds so lovely--gathering in the kitchen with children, making meals together, learning to cook.
But the reality of kids cooking can be a bit different, especially if your kids are quite young.
It's no good to have your kids in the kitchen only to keep raising your voice with a "Don't touch that! No, that's not for you."
I've been there, and over time I've developed a few techniques that have allowed me to enjoy having meal "help," without the frustration.
Here are three tips you may want to try.
1. Only assign jobs that your children can do (mostly) unassisted.
If you need to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes, you won't have the patience to teach your four-year-old how to chop onions. It's just not the right time.
Instead, chop the onions yourself--and give the skin and unusable parts to your child to put in the trash.
That's a job they can actually do, and it helps you as well.
Other tasks that my three children (ages five and six) do regularly: sautee vegetables in oil (providing I'm there watching, of course), fill cups with water from the tap, get items out of the fridge for me, and so on.
2. Give them their own bowl and fill it with a little of each ingredient.
This technique works really well during baking times.
When my three were babies and toddlers, I'd just toss some flour on their high chair in the kitchen and that was that.
But now they stand around the kitchen island, each with their own bowls. As I add ingredients to my bowl I give them a little as well.
They love this and spend ages mixing up their concoction--it keeps them busy and enjoying themselves.3. Give them focused kitchen time occasionally as well.
Invite your kids to the kitchen when you're not on a big deadline. Spend these relaxed moments teaching them how to chop, measure, and so on.
Think of this as "kitchen classes," and bonding time.
My daughter Trishna loves being in the kitchen....and she loves spicy food. Sometimes my husband will work with her to make a special dinner for all of us--where she participates in as much of the process as possible.
Don't just let your children be observers in the kitchen. You don't want their kitchen memories to consist of you speaking in sharp tones telling them to play elsewhere.
Physically nurturing our families begins in one room--our children love to be included in that process. So invite them in!
**How do you make cooking time fun with your little people?**