As a parent, it is so easy to be rushed. It starts first thing in the morning if you’re anything like I am; brushing teeth, packing lunches, dressing multiple people, combing through snarls… by the time I get to dinner, I really just want to order take-out or have it delivered.
I can’t do that though. I must be financially responsible and eating restaurant food would blow through my grocery budget much too quickly. My mom always had a great meal on the table every night of the week and sometimes more than one time per day, so I try to at least make a home-cooked meal happen at dinnertime.
My four-year-old has been “helping” since she was two. Now that she is four, helping truly is helping for the most part, though I may not like the speed in which the help is always delivered. It’s so much easier for me to just throw together tried and true recipes that I’ve been making for a decade or more practically with my tired mom eyes closed. Because I want my daughter to learn confidence in the kitchen, I’ve found the best way to teach her is to try a new recipe that we can learn to make together.
Having to read a new recipe forces me to slow down, gather all of my ingredients and plan. As much as I think I’ve let my kid have a lot of experiences near the stovetop, new recipes allow for new ingredients and more surprises or exclamations. Tonight’s were, “I didn’t know corn has hair!” as she shucked corn for the first time while sitting on the kitchen stool over the garbage can. The look on her face was like she had struck gold. I had an extra ear of fresh farmers’ market white corn specifically to let her try it. “Corn has milk and it tastes sooo good!” She didn’t take bites off the cob as I do. She sucked the juice she called milk, so excited to try something new.
On nights we cook together, we share so many special moments. The “yums” and “MMMs” are more plentiful at the dinner table when we mutually understand the effort and time put into our meal. Even bed time is more fun. At tuck-in time, I always thank my daughter for a wonderful supper. Some nights, she spouts off a thank you first. When she was three, it most often was something like, “Thank you for letting me help with dinner.” Nowadays, she tells me, “Thank you for helping me make dinner.” How’s that for confidence?
Do you have a story about cooking with your kids that you would like to share? It can be a success story, or it can be about a recipe that flopped or left a mess on the floor. Our readers love hearing about kids in the kitchen, and these stories inspire them to cook with their kids. Thank you!
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