Welcome to the Week of Repeats. This post was originally published March 13, 2008. Ooh, my boys have grown so much in a year. (And cooking with them is sometimes still crazy…)
Let’s all just take a moment to pause to recognize what most of us feel most of the time in regard to cooking with our kids:
*It’s easier to cook without the kids in the kitchen. You can get it done faster…and it also doesn’t take nearly as long…and you don’t go so slowly.
*It’s not as messy. Not NEARLY as messy.
*You can think more clearly when they’re not helping you.
*Using only your two hands seems so much easier than having all of their extra hands trying to reach over and dump in extra flour…especially when the recipe doesn’t call for flour.
*It just takes more work to include the kids in the kitchen. It does.
Yesterday…all four of mine were helping me make monkey bread.
Do you know how many hands that is?! Do the math. Four boys, one mom…I think it comes out to something like two hundred and forty seven hands. All needing the butter bowl at the same time.
I found myself at one point…as the noise level rose in the room and as the excitement level over monkey bread rose…and as more and more hands were covered with butter and cinnamon… and they kept licking their hands and then sticking them back onto the dough…and almost touching my nice shirt with their grimy hands…and the phone rang…and we needed more butter melted…and the first pan was full and we needed a second one…
AND I WAS TRYING TO TAKE A COUPLE OF NICE PICTURES FOR THE BLOG SO I COULD SHOW YOU HOW WONDERUL HAVING YOUR KIDS IN THE KITCHEN CAN BE!!!!
I was like, “WHOA GUYS!! Can you just relax and have fun with this? Instead of making it such a crazy event where we’re all getting messy and touching things we shouldn’t? Just relax and have fun, okay?!”
And they all looked at me for a second…and then got back to rolling dough in butter and cinnamon…
‘Cause I’m pretty sure they were relaxed and having fun and didn’t know what my problem was.
Just because I’m writing this series on Kids in the Kitchen doesn’t mean I wouldn’t sometimes rather write a series called, “How to cope with all the quiet time you have as a mother alone in your kitchen while your kids are happily playing in the next room…”
Or…”How to get your kids to watch more TV so that they will hurry up and get out of the kitchen…”
Okay, so having said all of that…and establishing that it’s not always easy to have our kids in the kitchen helping us…I do have some tips for making it easier to have 247 small and grimy hands in the kitchen at once:
1. If possible, have ingredients and kitchen tools out and ready before you call in the troops to help.
For instance, if we’re making individual homemade pizzas…it is SO much easier to have all the pizza fixin’s out and ready to go first.
2. Instead of having all of your kids in the kitchen at once to help…let them take turns.
If we’re rolling out cookie dough and cutting it with cookie cutters….only one guy at a time gets to come in and roll and cut. This gives me special time with each one, and makes for a lot less chaos.
3. Keep it short for the short people.
If they’re little, they don’t need to be there for the whole process of watching you knead the dough for ten minutes, and then watching the dough rise…. Spend five minutes pouring and mixing…or tearing up lettuce for a salad…and call it quits. Short time segments and short jobs for the little guys.
4. Accept that it will be more difficult.
When you have your kids in there helping you, just realize that it’s going to be messier, take longer and in general be more difficult than it would be if you alone were throwing the meal together. If you plan on it being perfect and blissful every time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Sometimes, the beaters go a little crazy in the hands of the little people…flinging batter all the way to your neighbor’s house. Sometimes flour gets flung all over…giving mom a mustache and white hair (in more ways than one). Work to teach your kids how to cook without making big messes…but learn to laugh with them when silly things happen.
6. Keep trying.
Even though it is a little hectic (a lot hectic) at times…keep pulling your kids in there. The more you cook with them…the easier it will be…and the more they’ll be learning.
7. Remember your purpose.
What is it all about anyway? We want our kids in the kitchen with us. They need to learn the art of cooking. You are making sweet memories with them. Focus on why you’re spending this time with them in the kitchen…and know that you are doing a great thing!
Now, go get those kids and bake something delicious. And then, go soak in the tub so that you can relax… (And so that you can get the honey out of your hair. How did THAT happen?!)
Visit Tammy’s Recipes for more kitchen tips.