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Kids in the Kitchen: Don’t worry about the mess, enjoy the moment!

Kids in the KitchenI hope you didn’t just cringe at the thought of having your child(ren) in the kitchen with you.  It can be such a wonderful time to play and teach them and it is always good for making memories, even if those memories are of the absolute crazy mess that ensued.

I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I can understand if you did cringe.  Believe me, there are moments when I want to grab all my utensils back and do it myself, but then I take a deep breath and remember what awesome memories we’ve made so far and how I need to encourage their little hands to keep trying.  Besides, the sooner they learn how to cook, the sooner they can bring me breakfast in bed!

In order for your experience to go well when you invite your child(ren) to help you in the kitchen, I would encourage you to Prepare Yourself & Prepare Your Sous-Chef.

Prepare Yourself…

Give Yourself Extra Time.

Do not ask your kids to help when you are rushed for time, which will cause a lot of frustration and stress, but instead, find a time when you can give them more attention.  Add at least 10 minutes for every child you invite to cook with you.

Expect a mess. 

Expect the mess and then you won’t be upset when a child is stirring the flour and it falls onto the counter.  You might even be more relaxed and surprise your kids by practicing the alphabet in the flour or having a flour fight.

Start with something simple.

Coconut balls are super easy.  Simply, measure & pour into the food processor.

Lemon balls are super easy. Simply, measure & pour into the food processor.

If you are a bit leery about letting little hands help, start with something simple like PB&J sandwiches, a smoothie, scrambled eggs or lemon balls, then work up to banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, and personal pizzas. The possibilities are only limited by your taste buds and patience level.

Smile & Laugh a lot.

Remember, you are making memories and teaching your kids how to become independent.  So smile, have fun and don’t let your controlling self get in the way of a good time.

Prepare Your Little Sous-Chef

Dress Up

Prep their hands by washing them and get their chef attitudes fully engaged by putting on a chef’s apron.  (I purchased some at The Dollar Tree for my kiddos.)

Explain Momma’s Kitchen Rules

My rules go a little like this…

Wait for Instructions & follow the recipe – Nobody pours anything into any container without my instruction.  (I really don’t want to bite into a ninja turtle or find that paprika has been substituted for cinnamon.)

Take turns – If more than one mini-chef has suited up then I try to be fair in letting them add ingredients to the dish.  If a recipe calls for one cup of flour and I have three kids helping, I let each of them put in 1/3 cup.  This makes them happy and let’s me talk about how three of those little 1/3 cups make one cup.  (Didn’t you always want to know how math applied to life?  Now is your chance to slip it in undetected and hopefully help them understand fractions & algebra later on in life.)

Cleaning is part of the cooking process – Creating something scrumptious is our goal and cleaning up is part of the process.

My two year old adding flour & mashing bananas at the same time.  She is either ambidextrous or doesn't like to share.

My two year old adding flour & mashing bananas at the same time. She is either ambidextrous or doesn’t like to share.

Cooking = First to Lick the Beaters!

Want to enjoy the fruits of labor? Then labor!  My two year old daughter understands this and now pulls me into the kitchen, points to the mixer and says, “Let’s make something!”  Her goal is to lick the beaters and making something is definitely a means to an end for her.

My Favorite Part!

It has become second nature to have at least one little sous-chef in the kitchen each day.  My favorite part about my children cooking is seeing their little faces brimming with joy as their family gushes over the wonderful dishes they have made.  So, what are you waiting for?  Oh, do you need some simple recipes?  Well, check out the recipes below.Recipes - Banana Bread & Lemon Balls

What are some of your favorite cooking memories, either with your own kids or from when you were a kid?

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