This is the first post in our Cooking With Kids Series!
There is something about being in the kitchen that immediately draws the kids to you! Mine always want to help or want to know what I am making! I really enjoy cooking; it is relaxing to me. I like to turn on praise music and cook without thinking about anything. What isn’t relaxing is when there are 4 pairs of extra hands in there! That’s a total of 10 hands trying to do things at once!
I do love being with my kids and some really great moments have been spent in the kitchen, but I have had to set some ground rules in order for it to run smoothly. Without some type of order in place, there will be more food on the floor than what is being cooked!
So here it is ~ 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool With Kids in the Kitchen:
1. Have a Plan
Set aside a day or time that will be specifically for having your kids helping you in the kitchen. If you are already rushed to get dinner on the table, then this is probably not the appropriate time to have the kids helping you. I like to decide what we are going to make & you can include the kids in this as well. Ask them what they want to make! Then you can make sure you have all the ingredients ready and you can take your time and enjoy teaching your kids how to cook. I like to do this on a weekend afternoon or on a day where I know we can finish school early and we have no where else to be in the afternoon. After nap time is usually the best time.
This last weekend we spent putting together our Breakfast Station. What I love so much about this is that all the ingredients and recipes are already laid out for you. It saves a lot of time and stress and my girls LOVED mixing up the oatmeal packets!
2. Keep it Safe With Appropriate Utensils
I used to get really stressed out when everyone was grabbing for everything at one time. I never really thought about child friendly utensils until we went to a kids cooking class and I fell in love with them! They work VERY well and are extremely safe. I can let them go to town cutting up almost anything and don’t have to worry about them cutting themselves!
These are our favorites:
Curious Chef 3 Piece Nylon Knife Set $8.85
Curious Chef 17 Piece Measure and Prep Kit Was
Curious Chef 5-Piece Pizza Kit Was
Curious Chef Decorator 7 Piece Set only $4.99
3. Keep it Simple
When you are first starting off with kids in the kitchen you want to keep it as simple as possible. This is not the time to tackle a big, elaborate meal or recipe. My girls like to help me make energy bars. One time I let them all around the bowl at one time without a plan in place and it was utter chaos. 2 tbsps of chia seeds turned into 2 cups of chia seeds and the recipe was now a big seedy mess!
Here are some simple ideas: Fruit salad or fruit kabobs, sandwiches, pizzas or lunchmeat and cheese roll ups. These are very simple and the kids enjoy making their own creations. These are all very forgiving and nothing will go wrong with these if you miss an ingredient!
We love using the DIY Lunch Station recipes and ideas to create our own lunches in bulk for the month. This is so much fun to do together!
4. Give Everyone a Job
This is a must! With 3 little girls age 9, 6, and 3 there have been many fights that have erupted in the kitchen, which has resulted in broken eggs, dumped over bowls etc… They are usually pushing and shoving each other off of step stools and someone always wants to be right in the middle under Mom so they can see what’s going on.
I don’t want to spend the entire time scolding and correcting them. I have found if you give everyone a specific job this eliminates the fighting. Then they feel like they have a special job to do. When they finish they know they can go on to the next thing. I may have someone measuring and scooping, someone stirring, or someone assembling. If they know ahead of time what is expected of them, there is less bickering and they know if they are patient they will all get a chance to stand right beside me and help.
5. Give Grace
This is the most important. When you set aside a time to have your kids help you are training them and teaching them wonderful life skills. This is not a time to cry or yell over spilled milk, or expensive pastured eggs that are now in a pile on the floor! Instead extend grace to these little ones as they are learning and watching and eager to help. Let them make mistakes and show them how to correct them or be creative and turn the mistake into a new creation! If you stay calm then hopefully the activities in the kitchen will stay a little calm as well.