Since the day my children were born they were in the kitchen with me. Propped up in a baby swing, in a baby carrier, in a highchair, crawling on the floor or on the kitchen table they were always watching me cook or bake for them.
Once they were old enough to stand on a chair they were right there at the counter helping me dump in ingredients (or making messes!) and I loved and still do love every minute of it. How lucky am I to have this adorable little helper in the kitchen with me. I mean, really ;)
Having my sons help me in the kitchen is a daily occurrence and no, it’s not always easy but these simple tips always help to make things go a little smoother. I hope they help you too!
- Realize and accept that there will be a lot more mess to clean up when you’re done and that’s okay
- Start with a clean kitchen (sounds counter intuitive I know, but trust me it makes everything easier and much less overwhelming)
- Have all your ingredients ready to go
- Bring out their special baking tools. I always pick up a few little things that are just for them (like their cute pink piggy spatulas or cookie cutters) a couple times a year
- Let them get over the need to dump and stir like crazy before you start <– I’ll expand on this below.
Typically while I’m tidying up the kitchen and pulling out ingredients I’ll set up my son at a counter that I don’t need to use. To get the obsession of dumping/mixing/running fingers through the flour calmed down a little bit I give him a couple bowls, a spoon, a spatula and a cup of flour. He’s free to do what he wants with it (and yes he makes a mess but it’s only flour afterall!) and after 10 minutes or so the novelty has worn off and he’s ready to get serious about baking with mom. Hang onto whatever’s left of the flour they were playing with and use it to make the best playdough of your life.
- Turn on some fun kids music and relax- baking is always more fun when dancing is involved
- Again, remind yourself and accept that there will be a mess to clean up when you’re done
- Have an upbeat attitude. Get excited. Use it as a time to bond with your children and build them up
- Let them crack the eggs (in a separate bowl) and get used to picking shells out while telling them that it’s okay it happens all the time to mama!
- Let them do all the dumping and pouring and stirring even if it means lumpy pancakes
- At the end get them a warm soapy dishcloth while you’re doing the actual cooking/flipping/stirring at the stove. And don’t be fussy. The point is to use the time as a teaching opportunity without getting flustered about a little flour in the cracks. Or shimmy their stool over to the sink, lay a towel down on the floor underneath them and let them wash dishes.
The idea of having children right beside the stove/oven is, I admit, a little nerve wracking. Part of the reason why I’d never have a gas stove is because I know I would be too nervous to have them around the open flame on the stove top. Afterall, accidents do happen. With my Frigidaire Induction Range my children can actually put their hands on a burner when it’s turned to “high” and nothing happens. The cook top remains cold and the dial reads “error” until the proper pot is placed on top. I knew induction cooking was amazing, but had no idea until I received the stove that it had so many safety features in place!
The quick preheating option is fantastic when baking with kids and the convection makes quickly baking 3 racks of anything a breeze. It’s not the easiest for little ones to wait for their treats to come out of the oven without opening the door at least 5 times.
I really enjoy teaching my little boys how to cook and bake and hope that it sticks with them once they’re out of the house. I cherish these moments with them because I know it won’t last forever. The extra mess is worth and a dusting of flour all over the floor just makes chasing around the island all the more exciting. The most important thing is to have patience, relax and get your children excited about eating what they’ve made.
Oh, and remember to shake your groove thang everytime you check if the dough is rising ;)
Disclosure: I am part of the Frigidaire Canada Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.