Saturday, January 22, 2011

How I Cook with Kids

I've had a lot of people ask me how on earth I cook with the kids. Don't they make a mess? Doesn't it take so much time? Definitely yes to both questions. I do not cook with the kids all of the time because quite frankly, it would be a disaster. I don't want to cook with the kids when I am stressed or running on a strict schedule, because I don't want it to be something they remember as me screaming at them or herding them away.

Today though was a day of freezing cold weather so we are staying in all day. Why not make cookies? Better yet, gingerbread cookies. Here are some of my pointers for cooking with little ones:
#1 Be patient and breathe: just lower your expectations from the beginning. You can be sure not all of the ingredients will make it into the bowl...there will be a lot of unhygenic practices, and probably not a lot of sharing. Just know that going into it.

Step #2: If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. I think that rings true here too. The kids are not patient people so them waiting for me to get the chair to climb to the tippy-toppy shelf to look for some forelorn ingredient usually is a recipe for disaster. So I've gone to measuring everything out ahead of time so we can just dump and mix. A lot of times we will measure out because that is good of course for math and all that, but with the two kids and just one Momma, I often time just pre-measure...especially when the recipe has a lot of ingredients as this one did.
#3. Laugh. I found humor in our "friends" baking with us today. I know some people think this to be gross but the cookies are just for us, and for Cal it helped him stay involved longer...let the toys play too :)

#4: Have the kids be prepared. I put the kids in their own aprons so they feel ready and excited. Thanks to my very generous Aunt Jan the kids have a great variety of cooking tools, pot holders, and all kinds of fun things, just for them. I think these help keep their attention a little longer and keep them excited

Chef #2!

#5: Find age appropriate jobs: I've learned this one through a lot of trial and error. Emma loves to cook but I've often given her jobs that were just too hard. She's frustrated, I'm frustrated, and then it's just no fun. I try to give the kids things they can do and feel a sense of accomplishment from doing.
Cook with your'll be glad you did :)

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