The Holidays are a usually filled with lots of opportunities to cook and bake. The kitchen is a terrific place to bond with children whether you’re planning to rustle up breakfast or decorating cookies. You can create memories that will last a lifetime. Many of us are busy, aware parents or caregivers and find ourselves in a time-crunch when it comes to the hustle and bustle of a holiday time schedule. Here are ten, tried and true suggestions for making kitchen time with the kids fun and enjoyable for everyone! Take one day out of this busy month and spend it with your kids in the kitchen. Follow these steps to make it a fun, bonding, positive memory you all will remember.
Safety First– Kids need to understand the importance of safety. Teach young children to stay away from the hot stove, sharp knives and other kitchen dangers without immediate supervision. Every child loves to pour the milk and add the flour, so take a couple extra seconds to turn off the mixer and let them! Even better, do the mixing by hand when you can! When allowing a child to use any kind of appliance, teach them to turn the switch off and unplug the item from the wall. Small on and off switches can create unfortunate mishaps. Always teach a child to check the off switch before plugging back in. Better to always be safe than sorry.
Cootie Protection Good hygiene is an essential kitchen lesson to teach your kids. Make sure they understand the importance of washing their hands often, sneezing away from food, and to use clean dish cloths and cutting surfaces to avoid cross contamination. If you do it they will too! Teach children to work clean and organized— and to clean up in-between steps. Taking the extra time to do this will make your life easier when the project is over.
Stay simple Kids love to dig in with both hands. Choose recipes that are easy. Hand formed cookies are a fun start that keeps them involved. Don’t spend more than 45 minutes with one process. Keep them moving so they stay interested.
Try not to watch the clock If the recipe says it takes twenty minutes to prepare— count on forty with kids in the kitchen. Plan accordingly and keep it fun. You and your child will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not in a hurry— and the extra time is well spent when you consider those priceless memories and life skills.
Relax and have fun There WILL BE funny shaped cakes, maybe a few egg shells in the batter and a few spills. Who cares! Take it all to heart and give praise often, even if it’s not perfect. This is a great time to share your own memories or even a family baking secret. Remember, it is the process – not the results when you are cooking with the littles.
It’s Not Just About Cooking – The kitchen makes a fantastic classroom for kids. Learning to read, following written directions is a very important lesson on its own. Take advantage of showing them how fractions work in a recipe, how many minutes are in an hour when baking a cake, or — the science in making dough rise. The educational opportunities are endless. Share your knowledge.
How to answer why?- We all know that’s a child’s favorite question. Even if they don’t ask, you can provide all kinds of useful information. Explain why you need yeast in the bread— how baking soda works in cakes and cookies — and the differences between similar items like granulated sugar and confectioners sugar. Give children an opportunity to see, touch, and smell all the ingredients you are using in the recipe.
Teach, Food Safety – It’s important to teach kids how to care for food. Make kids aware of the bacteria that can live in food if not treated properly. Remind them that hot food should be kept hot and cold food cold. And cleaning up in between keeps food safe. Including wearing an apron to keep our bacteria where it belongs. Away from the ingredients.
It’s OK to use a pre mix The attention span of small children can be short to say the least. Using a pre made mix can take less time, leave less room for error and create less of a mess. Yes, this is one of those times where less can be more! Keep mixes handy for when time is of the essence. So what if it’s not made from scratch— it was still time well spent! Give yourself a break – the cooking police are not judging you.
Cleaning up – Teach children that cleaning up is all part of the process. Do it as you go to keep a safe and sanitary cooking area. Remind them that a good chef never leaves the kitchen until it’s clean. Let them choose their own color sponge when shopping for ingredients. Explain cooking and clean up are all in the same process. Cleaning up and working organized is a life skill children need to learn. The kitchen is a great place to teach.