Families in the Kitchen

Families in the Kitchen

mom making cookies with childrenNathalie Bowman

“Mom, can I crack the eggs? Now can I stir it?” asked my 6 year old with eager anticipation. We were making yummy pecan tarts, and my son couldn’t wait to get them done so he could eat them. With the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your family baking and cooking together. Some parents don’t want their kids to have anything to do with the kitchen because they say it’s much quicker, cleaner, and easier without the help of little hands. While that may be true, families miss out if they don’t spend time together in the kitchen. Being in the kitchen together creates opportunities for family bonding and memories.

When parents make an effort to involve their children in the kitchen, not just everyday cleaning, but cooking and creating together, it provides an opportunity for conversation that may not happen otherwise. When children feel welcome and included (even in the kitchen), they feel free to be open and enjoy conversation with their parents as they work together creating yummy things to eat.

Making tasty food together creates fun traditions and lasting memories. Include your children in preparing your traditional food for holidays. Our children know what food we eat at Christmas every year and look forward to our baking and food prep days. We have lots of fun together creating the food as well as eating it. They are even more excited to eat what they have helped prepare.

Food traditions connect generations. When we spend holidays with Grandma in another state, our children love to help grandma make pies and rolls. Grandma gives them their own little pie plates and they get to make their personal mini-pies. The littlest ones play with the bread dough as if it’s play dough, and pretend they are making grand dishes. All the while, Grandma is cheerful with the children and thoroughly enjoys sharing her kitchen with them. They will never forget how important Grandma made them feel during that time spent together. (And Grandma is training them so when they are older, they really can be a help to her with all of her baking-and it will be fun!)

At some point in the game called life, children grow up and leave home. After they leave home, they will need to know how to feed themselves. Restaurants and fast food are always options, but teaching your children to prepare foods is a skill that will bless them every day when they venture out on their own as well as get married and have their own families. Holiday time is the perfect time to begin your training.

As you create yummy food in your kitchen with your family this holiday season, keep these 5 tips in mind:

  • Understand that it may be a bit more messy (or a lot more) to have the help of your children, and be ok with that. Let them help you clean up the mess as well as make it.
  • Be patient as they learn to follow your instructions, and forgive mistakes quickly.
  • Decorate cookies together, and have a “hands-off” approach. It may be difficult, but unless your kids ask for your help, let them decorate however they want to. This will spark their creativity as they have the freedom to do whatever they can imagine, without strict instructions as to what the cookies “should” look like.
  • Let them taste the dough before it’s baked. Children love to have a sneak preview of what their treat will taste like.
  • Have fun together! Don’t sweat the small stuff. If something goes wrong, take a deep breath and laugh with your kids. There is nothing like just letting things go and making things right with a good attitude.

Set your intention this holiday season to involve your family in preparing your traditional family dishes. Give your children the gift of your love through spending time with them in the kitchen, teaching them cooking skills and eating yummy food together.

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