I met Caty through a local women’s social club, but really got to know her better once our daughters enrolled in the same ballet class. I love reading Caty’s blog and am super thrilled to be a small part. I am a Graphic Designer turned into SAHM of three children Bradon (7), Hannah (5) and Sawyer (1).
I have always loved doing projects with my children, in fact I’ll never forget when my son’s 4K teacher said she was impressed that he was already a pro with scissors and Elmer’s glue! As they get older, and our time together is limited, instead of “arts and crafts” our projects together have been kitchen-focused. Inviting your children into the kitchen and involving them at a young age fosters a habit that will have lifelong benefits! Besides the valuable life skill of cooking, helping in the kitchen teaches reading, measuring and following directions. Plus it boosts their confidence and makes them experience a huge sense of pride. It also gives you a chance to talk about health, and show your kids what is healthy and what isn’t. I just read in the New York Times: “Experts say that the single most important thing you can do for your health is to cook at home.” And making it a family affair is the icing on the cake!
Maybe you have a few fun family traditions, like making cut-out cookies at Christmas, or cracking the eggs for birthday cakes, (plus licking the beaters of course!), but it’s not always easy to include them in the mealtime prep of our daily lives. I mean, let’s be honest. It’s HARD to LET GO and let our little ones take control in the kitchen, am I right?! How easy is it to turn on the TV so you can have a few minutes to yourself to make dinner?? (Guilty!) But it is SO GOOD for them to learn! And it’s so very amazing to see the pride in their eyes (like tears in your own eyes amazing!). Worried about the mess? Tacos are a good start. My daughter was three when she was slicing black olives (using a plastic knife). And now as a 5 year old, she loves measuring and mixing spices for the taco seasonings.
Recently I have adopted the idea of assigning an entire meal to each child. They pick the menu and we work together to prepare the meal. It’s been so fun. And I have seen my children grow in many ways: It has taught them responsibility, confidence, how to make healthy choices, plus that self-satisfaction that can be hard to come by for some kids.
The other night, it was my son Bradon’s turn. We made “homemade pizza dippers” together. I just grabbed an easy recipe off of Pinterest (Except we didn’t use pepperoni) and I printed it out so it was easier for him to follow along. The two sides he chose were frozen green peas and apple slices. It’s not the healthiest main dish, but as long as it’s paired with something green and fruit, nuts or yogurt, it’s good enough for this scrunchy momma.
- Hannah opened each string cheese, while Bradon sliced each one in half using a butter knife.
- Then Bradon rolled each pizza dipper himself.
- Bradon is brushing the melted butter mixture onto the pizza dippers.
So proud of the meal he prepared!
Here are a few examples of ways your children can get involved in the kitchen.
- Choose the meal
- Find the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge (may require a stool)
- Read the recipe or instructions on the box
- Cut up vegetables with a butter knife
- Set the timer
- Stir and mix ingredients
- Measure out ingredients
- Use a food processor/blender with careful supervision
- Set the table (instead of the kitchen counter, it’s a big deal to eat at the dinning room table in our home!)
- Pour the drinks for family members
- Pick the dinner music (usually their favorite part)
- Clear the table
- Wash or rinse off the dishes
One night during dinner, my husband shared with us the idea of Roses & Thorns. Family members take turns and share the best part of their day (the rose) and the worst part (the thorn). It’s a great way to get your kids talking about what happened during school, especially if he or she is reluctant to open up. Over time, it has become a daily tradition in our home. One of my favorite family memories was when Bradon made his first dinner on his own (which was lasagna — it took a lot of work!), and as we were enjoying it together at the “fancy” table, I asked him what his rose was and he smiled and said, “Right now.”
So I challenge you to just LET GO and LET THEM! Loosen up. Maybe pour yourself a glass of wine. Put some music on (our favorite is Kidz Bop Radio on Apple Music). Have fun with it! Will it be messy? Yes. Will it create extra dishes? Probably. But guess what. It will also create valuable life skills, special memories and that unbelievable sense of pride in your children. Pick a night this week and Let The Kids Cook! And please share your experiences!
Until Next Time – JK