Cooking With Kids
Expectation vs Reality
Don’t you just love those images floating around Instagram these days. I’m talking about the photos of a Mum and her kids smiling, laughing and having the most amazing experience cooking together in the kitchen. Their kitchen is as clean as a whistle. The kids don’t have a drop of food on their freshly washed and ironed clothes, and the Mum looks like she’s out of a magazine.
And I know what you’re all thinking….. “why isn’t it this easy for me”?.
Please don’t be fooled! I’ve taken my fair share of images like these but have always hesitated posting them because I remember the jar that fell on the floor and smashed, the whole egg shell that entered the bowl when being cracked, and the pure frustration I have felt when cooking with my kids in the kitchen.
There are so many amazing benefits to getting your children involved in baking and meal preparation, and I’ll get into those a little later. First, I want to talk about how incredibly hard and frustrating it can be. Because let’s face it, any task with kids can be testing! And it’s ok to admit that.
Some days I’m that super Mum I always knew I could be. I’m patient, understanding, fun, full of energy and cooking in the kitchen with the kids is easy. We make cupcakes without spilling a thing, zero fights and I feel like I haven’t lost half the hair on my head during the process. We laugh, have fun, and truly do look like that happy Instagram worthy shot. Then there’s the other days. The days when the kids are fighting over who’s turn it is to mix the batter. A measuring cup full of milk has spilled all over the bench, and I feel like I’ve got a constant lump in my throat.
It’s days like this we take a break. I remove us from the kitchen, sit and cool down for 5 or 10 minutes before starting again. And it’s also these days that I remind myself of the benefits. It gives my kids the opportunity to learn, develop a number of skills, and to be involved in something that one day will be a huge part of their life. We all need to put dinner on the table, and one day it’s going to be our children’s job to do that for their family.
So why not start preparing them early?
I know some days it’s the last thing you might feel like doing. You might know in your gut it’s not going to end well (I’ve had these days). You also might just be exhausted and not be in the best mindset to deal with your independent “I’ll do it!” two year old. On these days I give out easy tasks that still make my kids feel involved but also has a lot less chance of turning into a disaster zone. These days the kids will
Drizzle oil on vegetables
Get something out of the pantry or fridge
Set the table
I personally feel like there’s a lot of pressure on parents these days to feel as though you should do everything with your children and not feel frustrated, to keep your cool and always be patient. As much as we all try, sometimes things are hard, and I’d really like to talk more about it without feeling like I’ll be judged for admitting things are hard.
As parents we all want what’s best for our children. And that’s why the benefits make it worth it. If something is going to benefit our child’s development, of course we want our little ones involved in that. That doesn’t mean it will come easy, as that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’ll have that amazing stress free experience in the kitchen, that’s also ok. It’s ok because regardless of the spilled milk or flour your child will be -
Enhancing fine motor skills
Increasing language development
Improving reading skills
Increasing focus and attention
Being exposed to healthy eating
Boosting self confidence
Learning life skills
And most importantly Encouraging family bonding. Not every time, but overtime. You’ll have those days you make the cupcakes stress free and your kids might even eat a vegetable they’ve never tried because they helped with dinner. And you’ll have those other days too. The one’s when the experience was just hard! But, you got this Mumma. And I got you!