Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

Whoever said that wasn't dealing with the five and under set!
However, is including the kids in the housework really worth it? Absolutely! This particular post involves including the kids in kitchen work. And I don't mean those special kid-centered cooking projects, although there's nothing wrong with those. We do plenty of those as well. But I'm talking about including kids in daily food preparation. While there are things that aren't safe for my kids yet (using sharp knives, handling raw meat, using the oven, etc.) there are PLENTY of things they CAN do! Once Linus caught the cooking bug, we've been off and running!

So examples of jobs appropriate for pre-schoolers:
1. stirring
2. kneading
3. whisking
4. greasing the pan
5. cracking eggs (Amelie learned at 4)
6. pouring ingredients out of measuring cups and spoons
7. counting the number of above
8. stirring a pot on the stove (Amelie started at 5)
9. arranging chopped fruits and veggies in a dish

Here's is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions regarding this matter:
1. Don't include kids if you care how a particular dish looks, if you're in a big hurry, or if you don't have time for clean-up after the food is prepared. It will not look like how you would do it, it will take more time than if you did it yourself, and there will be a huge mess to clean up!
2. Lower your expectations of the amount that "stays in the bowl." There will be spillage! I continually, albeit gently, remind everyone to stir gently. However, spillage happens! If the counter was clean to begin with, just scoop it up and put it back in!
3. If you have more than one child, use a combination of "taking turns"(pouring in ingredients, using the rolling pin) and "all hands" (stirring, kneading). Everyone is excited to help and patience will NOT abound!
4. Begin a collection of smaller kitchen tools. We've acquired mini whisks, a mini rolling pin, and even some small baking pans. These double as toys for the play kitchen and are used with play-doh. But as long as they're clean, they can be used in actual cooking as well.

Here is the evidence of our kitchen adventures.
Making pizza:

And cornbread:

And baked oatmeal:
[photo removed: we'll just have to get another baked oatmeal picture sometime=)]

And the ultimate cooking experience: making bread with Daddy!

Linus LOVES to play with the flour! Remember what I said about the mess?

Let me finish by saying that I am by no means perfect in this area. We've had some excellent cooking experiences. However I've failed and lost my patience while cooking with kiddos more than I'd like to admit. We just keep plugging along and they keep getting better and better. I know that one day they'll all be genuinely helpful while cooking.

I've reminded myself of the words of encouragement that Duncan's boss gave him when he heard we were expecting Amelie:
They just want to be with you.

It is oh-so true. And it is why we try, even though not always successfully, to incorporate our children in as many aspects of our daily lives as possible. That being said, I'd better stop putting off the kids and go and be with them already!


practicalgirl said...

awesome. love the floury pic of linus' hands!

ChrisandMissy said...

You are a great mom, Nancy. This post tugged at my heart. I let Anna help me occasionally in the kitchen, but the usual is Chris entertaining the girls so I can whip up dinner.
The pictures of all the kids' hands in the pizza dough and the one of Linus' little feet on the stool and flour down the cabinet...I loved those two.
Seriously, you are a GREAT mom. =)

Deb said...

Good for you Nancy!!
Believe me, these memories will mean much more in the future (for you AND your children) than you realize even now. Plus, the bonus is that your kids will actually be able to HELP you as they get older! :)

Mrs. Fix said...

I just laughed and laughed and laughed at Violet being naked in that picture! For some reason that was hilarious to me. Thanks again for inviting us today -- we had a great time!

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing this! My mother ALWAYS kept us out of the kitchen because she was ALWAYS in a hurry. Genuinely. That was the nature of life as a single mom to three girls. As a result, at 33, I'm still learning to cook! Maybe Amelie can show ME how to crack an egg.

I love the idea for getting mini whisks and things that are kid sized. It looks like you guys have a great time.

Also thank you for your honesty at the end. I think it's easy for me to forget that it's not always easy being a mom but that we can push through it and look to happier moments like the ones in your pictures! So fun!

CA Skellys said...

Well said...I've loved cooking with my kids and they LOVE cooking with me but ugh, the mess, the time, the food quality...sometimes I kick them out of the kitchen and then I feel awful because what's most important? Ugh...