I get it – when it’s a special holiday or a “memory making moment”, you totally make the time. But an average Monday night? That’s a bit harder. By dinner time, everyone’s patience is waning, and you really, really just want your kiddo to go watch an episode (or two) of Paw Patrol while you have 30 minutes of semi-quiet to make dinner.
And sometimes those sweet little angels try to help, and their “help” is soooooo not helpful.
Being intentional about getting your kids in the kitchen is so important! Not only are you teaching your children valuable life skills (don’t let them go to college not even knowing how to make boxed mac and cheese!), but this is quality time your children will gain so much from!
Why You Should Get Your Kids in the Kitchen:
- When your kids get to help out, they take ownership in what is going on. That ownership will help them invest in the outcome. Meaning, if your kid cooks, they will be more likely to taste and eat what they have created! Win! (Also check out How to Raise Adventurous Eaters)
- Spending quality time with your kids while preparing food opens up amazing opportunities to talk about where food comes from, which also gives us a great opportunity to talk about the nutrition and health benefits of what you are eating (Yes, you can apply this to cookies, too!).
- This is an excellent opportunity to get your kids involved in math, science, and language skills! It also develops independence, responsibility, and a sense of their own culture as you share stories and memories and talk.
What Kids Can Do in the Kitchen:
*Please reserve judgment for what your child is capable of doing. Also, make sure you are demonstrating and supervising each new tool and technique.
- 1-3 year olds – Can help measure dry ingredients, pour pre-measured liquid ingredients, stir everything in sight, rinse fruits and vegetables, mash bananas and potatoes, and more.
- 4-6 year olds – Can help peel fruits and veggies, slice soft fruits and vegetables with a small pairing knife (think strawberries, zucchini, etc), spread things like peanut butter or frosting, knead dough, crack eggs, grate cheese, and more.
- 7-10 year olds – Can start helping around the stove (with lots of observation and assistance!), cut harder foods, read and lead recipes, and learn to use more tools.
Tips for Cooking with Your Kids:
- When you can, get out all the ingredients and tools you need for a recipe BEFORE you start cooking. This helps get everything within reaching distance, reduces time hunting things down, and helps you focus all your attention in one spot of your kitchen (which is handy with small helpers).
- I also recommend using a large bowl where you can throw scraps and trash, eliminating the need to walk away from your child when you take something to the trashcan. Try to keep everything focused within one small area of your kitchen.
- Know that messes WILL happen. It’s inevitable, and it’s totally ok. Have wet paper towels, sponges, etc ready for when it happens. Make it a learning experience on how to clean up, and don’t get upset. It’s ok to make mistakes and messes – it’s part of learning!
- Make a standing date to cook with your children. One way to reduce stress and increase intentionality of cooking with kids during the week is to create a standing date where everyone knows the kids will help. That way YOU can be mentally prepared, your kids are excited about the idea, and everyone can work together.
- If you have multiple children, either assign different tasks to children of different age groups (say the younger kids get to help you measure, stir, and prepare things first and then the older kids can help you cook) or try working with one child at a time.
- Always, always, always emphasize sanitation and safety!
But most importantly, have fun with your kids!
How do you get your children involved in the kitchen?