We have to eat at least three times a day. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with our kids and teach valuable skills. I’ve let my kids help in the kitchen since the first one was itty bitty. She loved to be in the kitchen with me and still loves it today. She now helps me teach the littles how to cook as you can see in the video.
It’s hard at the beginning when they are little and they make more messes than give help, but it is so worth the time and effort. Your kitchen will be a mess, but the memories will last forever.
But let’s get real and talk details. How did I pull this off with three little ones in the house when I was a young mom? And how do I continue this habit now that I have eight kiddos?
As a young mom, I knew how important being in the kitchen was to my little ones. Kids love to be creative. Giving them a chance to play in the kitchen and contribute to preparing their own meals changes their perspective. And they are way more willing to try new foods if they helped prepare them.
My biggest problem was that all three wanted to help at the same time. Ahhh! This easily turned into a stressful situation and no one was having fun. I only had three in the beginning, so each child was assigned a meal.
The early riser was given breakfast duty, the one with the shortest attention span and youngest was given lunch, and the oldest and more skilled was given dinner. We did this for years until they could prepare their meal with no help from me! I had worked myself out of a job.
The meal helper was also in charge of that meals prayers. This eliminated fighting over who’s turn it was to pray. Really? Why would one argue over who gets to talk to God first, but hey, they were kids.
Now that I have a houseful of busy kids, the assigned meals don’t work so well. But then they kind of do. The three that started this assigned meals, still manage their meals. They just now have a sidekick that helps them. And now that I have two grown girls, they pretty much take care of dinner.
It was so worth the time and effort to teach them how to cook a meal. And not how to open a box and mix. My kids cook from scratch and don’t even use seasoning mixes! I have gifted them with a life skill that will carry them throughout their lives. In Our Life in 5 video this week, watch my kids help with pizza, yogurt and dinner rolls.
For some practical advice, I’ll share a few tips for encouraging little ones to jump in.
These little ones are my go-fors and my stirrers. I send them on treasure hunts through the pantry, refrigerator and cabinets to find ingredients and bow
ls and pots. They also love to stir things! In the video I had the little ones pouring in ingredients and pushing the buttons. They can’t resist pushing the buttons, so you might as well let them!
These guys will make a mess. Unless you have a very meticulous first born, there will be messes. It’s ok! But be sure to let them help clean it up. Clean up can be fun too and they need to learn young how to clean up after themselves. It will save you fighting when they get older.
This is where they start to really want to help and treasure hunting isn’t nearly as much fun. You are going to have to step back and let them do a lot of the prep work. My 9 year old loves to knead the bread and she’s good at it. My 7 year old makes oatmeal on the stovetop all by himself. They can make salads, granola, and cook almost any frozen veggie.
They are the muscles behind cooking. They still can’t season things or read a recipe without help. This is a great time for teaching all the cooking lingo, how to properly use a knife and measure, learn baking, and grate cheese.
And, as always, help clean up their mess.
I also let this group start helping with the menu plan. I usually let each kid pick one meal per week. They love this ownership over “their” meal.
Middle and high schoolers
Now it’s hands off! These kids cook meals by themselves. And it’s glorious!
It’s not always perfection, it’s not always to my taste buds and it’s rarely ever clean afterwards. But if frees me to do other tasks and allows my children ownership over part of their day. They read recipes independently or can go through our pantry and create their own meals.
They can learn tougher skills like bread making, handling meat, and how to season foods without the mixes. And they can most definitely start cleaning up on their own too, but it’s always more fun to work as a team.
Now go have some fun in the kitchen!!