Many thanks to Katy for this installment of What’s Cooking with YOUR Kids – a series where we share your stories about kids in the kitchen.
If you’ve ever read my blog, it should come as no surprise to you that I enjoy cooking with my kids. I’ve always loved cooking, but cooking with your children is a completely different experience.
I started letting the Munchkin help out in the kitchen because he wanted to, not because I was pushing him to get in the kitchen. He saw me cook often, and being a kid of course he wanted to help out! He had his own play kitchen and cooking tools too, and I can remember plenty of times that he would “cook” using his toys, play-doh, cereal, whatever I’d let him get his hands on! The Sprout does the same thing, and I even give Squirt a bowl and spoon to play with while I’m in the kitchen.
Cooking with kids is not always easy, I’ll most definitely admit to that. I’ve had plenty of spilled milk, dropped eggs, even a shattered marble rolling pin and broken waffle iron. I can remember when the Munchkin was two years old and helping me make cut-out sugar cookies at Christmas. We wound up with an entire container of red sugar spilled all over the kitchen floor!
I’ve also learned that as my family grows, my patience has had to grow right along with it. Often what the nine year old can do, the three year old can’t, and no matter what task I assign to each child, they have a tendency to fight over who gets to do what. I guess that’s just part of having siblings, though! And then there’s the baby, who thinks he’s just as big as the other two, and should be involved in all the activities that they are.
There are so many reasons to get your kids in the kitchen. First and foremost though, it should be fun! I’ll confess, some days it’s more fun for them to help out than it is for me to have them in the kitchen, and there have been times that I shoo them out of the room, but even on those days I try to remind myself to take a deep breath and include them somehow.
Cooking can also be a learning experience for them. They learn to listen and follow instructions, and are presented with lessons in patience and cooperation. They have to learn about safety in the kitchen. Kids are also learning great lessons about math and reading, even if they are way to young to realize it. You can talk about colors, textures, shapes and sizes. You can even be discovering chemical reactions! Try not to over-think it though. I don’t choose recipes thinking “okay, we can talk about fractions while we cook this one.” I just try to keep my eyes open for opportunities as they present themselves and run with it.
I also think that being in the kitchen provides kids with great life skills. So many kids turn into young adults without being able to cook anything more than microwave popcorn and ramen noodles. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with ramen noodles. There was a time in my own life that I think I may have lived off them. 😉 But if kids know how to cook, and how to make good, healthy food choices think how much better off they will be! Plus, I keep telling myself that I’ll make my future daughters-in-law happy by teaching my boys to cook and work in the kitchen.
I learned something else today. Cooking with your children can be great for the relationship between you and your child too. The Munchkin and I were having a rough day today. This evening my husband took the two younger kids for a drive around the block, while the Munchkin stayed home with me to try out a new muffin recipe. Before I knew it, we were eating chocolate chips while we mixed the batter, talking, laughing, and enjoying each others’ company again. It felt good. I’m sure part of it was the one-on-one time we were having, but also doing something together that we both enjoy.
Seriously. Get your kids in the kitchen. It is so worth it!!
Katy is a dancer turned number-cruncher turned stay-at-home mom to three rambunctious boys in Texas. She started blogging as a way to entice her oldest to try new things, and now shares her many adventures in the kitchen with her readers. Her blog “Alphabet Soup” can be found at www.katy-alphabetsoup.com.
We’d love to hear from you about your experiences in the kitchen with your child. Please email me (michelle at whatscookingwithkids dot com) your brief story, along with a few photos. I’ll be posting your stories in the order they are received. Thank you for being a valuable part of our community!
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