Now let’s be honest, who doesn’t like the idea of your kids cooking you breakfast while you get a sleep in? But understandably a lot of parents put teaching their kids to cook into the too hard basket. It is definitely one of those short term pain for long term game scenarios but I promise it is very DOABLE. I should know….my mum taught me how to make a great Spanish omelette, among other things, from a young age and it was only as an adult that I realised her clever plan. 🙂
In addition to getting breakfast in bed one future mothers day, there are so many wonderful benefits to involving your kids in the cooking process. Firstly, it is a great life skill to have. Next there is the value of knowing where your food comes from and the maths lessons in disguise. Then there is learning how to follow instructions, practising patience and developing their fine motor skills. Finally, with all the time we spend cooking, involving the kids means more time to connect with them and hopefully makes it more fun and less of a chore for everyone.
It does however require a LOT of patience on your part, particularly in the beginning. I have had Mr 3yrs helping me in the kitchen for over a year now and we have gone from about 10 outbursts to generally one or none per cooking session – he can though pretty much make crepe batter on his own, peel and cut vegetables/ fruit, make me a cup of tea (minus pouring water), mix cakes and make egg toast.
“This is the perfect everyday learning opportunity – you are already doing it and involving the kids provides a wealth of benefits without much more work, or the hassle of creating/ setting up separate learning activities or things to entertain the kids.”
Here are my top tips to get you started with minimal headache:
- Wait until they show an interest and you have the mental/ physical energy to do it. You don’t want a battle just to get them in the kitchen with you and you want to make sure you have the energy to give that extra bit of attention during the process. If your kids see you often in the kitchen cooking, chances are they will want to join in at some point and will also start pretending to cook.
- Set clear ground rules and repeat them each time before you start. For me, my boys know that if they are helping me in the kitchen they must listen to me explain/ demonstrate things first otherwise they stop helping.
- Take baby steps – they won’t become a junior masterchef after their first time in the kitchen. Let them watch you a lot to start with and have them help you by getting the ingredients out or passing things. Then get them mixing, scoping or something else simple to build their confidence and yours. I suggest letting them stick to doing one job until they can do it comfortably and then add another, following their interests and skill level…..and you will likely be surprised with what they can do given the chance.
- Only involve them when you have time to go at their pace. This is a BIG one for us which I need to keep reminding myself of…..like today when we were making crepes. I was getting hungry and wanted to keep moving along but Mr 3 was happy making walls in the flour and didn’t want to make a hole in the middle so we could pour the eggs and milk in – insert outburst here (from both of us).
- Be prepared – make sure you have all the ingredients and are mentally prepared for some mess, but also hopefully some fun. You will also need to set up a way for the kids to reach the kitchen bench – we have a dining chair in the corner of our kitchen bench and I stand next to the kids so they can’t accidentally fall off.
- Regularly acknowledge and thank them for their efforts – eg you are doing a great job of mixing the batter nice and smoothly and how yummy does the cake me made together taste, thank you again for your help. It is very important to build their confidence and keep them excited.