Having Fun With Kids In The Kitchen
Our house was visited by a special little visitor today. This little miss loves to cook. Her kitchen set at home, pumps out some of the most creative flavor combinations of food. Her specialties are pepperoni tea, fish soup, purple eggs, and of course doughnuts.
The kids and I thought she would love to create some real food while she was visiting with us. Did I mention that little miss is also verrrrrry fond of snacks? There was no doubt that this activity was going to be a big hit!
Having our sweet, little friend in the kitchen reminded me of all the years spent training my own children. My big kids have grown up in our kitchen, beginning with keeping me company while I cooked and progressing to me keeping them company while they cook. Kids in the kitchen isn’t always easy. At times it can be a real challenge, prompting us to create the family motto,
“A good helper listens and waits for instructions.”
While it can be challenging, it can also be a time for giggles, exploration, and learning. Not to mention that learning how to cook and be self-sufficient in the kitchen is something I think every child should know how to do. It is worth the effort to create a welcome environment in your kitchen.
With Christmas coming, you and your little chef(s) will have lots of opportunities to make memories in the kitchen. These 5 tips will help them be happy memories.
- Pick a Good Time: Be sure to pick your times wisely. Make sure that your little chef is well rested and in a good listening mood. Also make sure that you aren’t in a hurry. Little chefs aren’t known for their speed.
- Prep Ahead: This tip is especially helpful with young helpers. If the dish you are making has a lot of knife work or prepping, be sure to have that all completed before you call for your helper. Prepping ahead also cuts down on the time needed for your cooking session, holding their attention better.
- Don’t Stress Over Mess: In the same way little chefs aren’t known for their speed, they also aren’t known for their cleanliness. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that this was a big struggle for me when my kiddos were littles. I say, was, because now I understand the contribution that I was making to their future and that has changed my perspective completely. There isn’t a mess big enough that they can make in the kitchen that some soap and water can’t clean up.
- Safety First: Remember that whole point about kitchen time being a good learning experience? If your little chef learns nothing, but how to be safe around a hot stove, boiling pot, and a sharp knife then your time together is a success. The best way to teach these things is while you are working together around those hazards. Begin each cooking session by setting expectations, establishing rules, and talking through potential dangers.
- Praise and Celebrate: I am a huge proponent of praising and celebrating your children. When your child takes instruction well, praise him. When she stirs the pot to perfection, praise her. When the recipe is complete, celebrate by allowing the young chef to get the first taste. I may be wrong, but in my experience, praise and celebrating a child is the best way to build self-confidence in their heart. As parents we do a lot of “instructing”, finding ways to intentionally praise a job well done, is so important.
We were able to once again put these tips into practice with our special guest chef. My heart swelled, listening to my big chef’s provide instructions, expectations, and lots of praise as we tasted our snacks. The young chef loved both of her kitchen masterpieces and the big chef’s didn’t mind them either. Hopefully these tips will inspire you to get in the kitchen with your kids.