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Kids in the Kitchen

 
Even if it’s messy, your child can help (and learn) in the kitchen.
Cath Jenkin
By Cath Jenkin

Pic: Diane Cassells

Article originally in Parent24
There's a cliché that says something like "cleaning your house when you have kids is like brushing your teeth whilst eating cookies". A friend of mine lives in absolute fear of letting her child into the kitchen, because her biggest concern relates to cleaning up afterwards.

I'm not saying that being a parent gives you license to let the dust bunnies take over but, I am not content to have a bored child for the sake of being a spick and span fan. More importantly though, I firmly believe that the more you involve your child in your daily chores, the more likely they are to find them fun and carry on doing them on their own, without too much work on your behalf.

More time to cook real food

When my daughter was little, I'd often pop her into her Bumbo seat and talk to her whilst I made dinner. At that age of course, her conversation skills didn't extend far beyond gurgles and giggles but I still got to spend time with her while I made dinner or mashed up vegetables for her. I will confess I was one of those moms who refused cans of baby food in favour homemade baby food meals. It took more time than I can calculate but it was worth it in the long run.

Baking and boundaries

Because my kid's always been in the kitchen, she's quite aware of what she's allowed to touch, where she can help and how best she can stay out of mommy's way whilst assisting. She's an avid fan of grating cheese or popping peeled vegetables into the pot for me. When we bake, it's always great fun. She's recently realized she's big enough to use the handmixer. Of course she gets a guiding hand from me but she's getting quite accustomed to handling the machine. She loves to bake and is very keen on learning how to use the vegetable peeler. I'll hand over that duty to her as soon as I feel she's ready to handle the implement.

For now though, I get to enjoy quality time with her in the kitchen and she knows her time to be most helpful is when cleaning up begins. She's not afraid to make a mess because she and I both know we'll clean it up together. Our meals are made with love and laughter and our kitchen never really looks like a bomb hit it for too long. I look forward to these special cooking and baking times and hope she will pass on that tradition to her own children one day.

For me, I just can't wait for the day she can bring me tea in bed.

What is your child allowed to do in the kitchen?

 
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