Like many families the kitchen is the heart of our home. We cook, clean, create our art projects and come together as a family to eat there. I would say my family spends more quality time in the kitchen than anywhere else in our home. It came as no surprise to me when both my children started begging to be a part of the cooking and baking process.
I was apprehensive as most busy and efficient moms would be but we started off small with very specific rules / instructions and my children flourished. Now my children help with some form of cooking almost daily. My four year old actually does help and, my two year old…well…he will get there. It’s more about bonding at this stage than anything else. Cooking together has become a routine that has helped in more ways than I could have imagined. My children are more adventurous eaters, we focus on more healthy foods, they have become more patient, and follow directions more thoroughly.
The following is a guideline on how to begin working with your children in the kitchen. Our next blog will give various child friendly recipes and educational links to cooking / baking together.
Before getting started in the kitchen it will make a world of difference to have some clear cut boundaries and expectations. You will have to go over these many times until it becomes routine.
The Main Rules in Our House
1. Wash your hands before we begin.
2. Wait for directions before you touch anything.
3. Never touch a knife or the stove.
4. Wait your turn to do each step.
Depending on what we are making there may be more task specific rules, however these main rules help to ensure everyone is safe and happy. Your rules may be different as each household has to decide for themselves what their comfort level with cooking is.
When cooking with children it is always a great idea to have all ingredients and cooking utensils out and ready to go before hand. I usually tell my daughter I am setting up and this is when she washes her hands and climbs up onto her spot, waiting to be helpful. She will actively help me for 10-15 minutes before graciously leaving. My two year old is hit or miss and can last 10 minutes at the most.
When we first began cooking together I had problems thinking about child friendly tasks, however when you focus on a recipe step by step there are always some tasks that are perfect for little hands.
Some Tasks that Always Belong to My Children
1. Pouring into measuring cups (assisted)
2. Pouring the measuring cups into the bowls (independent)
3. Taking the stems off of vegetables (independent)
4. Peeling garlic or onions (independent)
5. Breaking an egg (assisted)
6. Stirring (independent)
7. Kneeding (independent)
8. Rolling out dough (assisted)
Cooking together is a great way to spend quality time with your children and finish the everyday tasks that need to be completed. With a little time and structure your children will be whipping up food by your side in a jiffy. Please follow us for Wednesday’s blog on a more in depth look into the child friendly kitchen and the educational links cooking has on our children developmentally.
Written by Nicole Rowley