Tips for Fun Cooking with Kids

My daughter is 3 and she loves to help me cook. Sometimes I’d rather just get whatever I’m cooking cooked, but cooking with kids is a great way to spend quality time with them. Here’s some tips to help make it a little more fun for you and them. funcookingwithkids

1. Let go of perfectionism

They’re kids for heaven’s sake. They’ve got their own ideas of what makes things fun and beautiful.  This past Christmas we got together with my mom and a family friend to bake Christmas cookies. Now I didn’t realize this was going to be an ALL day affair, but that’s what it turned into.

Hanna was having a blast, however, my mom was NOT. Here’s where they clashed. My mom thought there was a “right” way to decorate Christmas cookies, you know… 3 m and m buttons on the snowmen, a red hot on every little branch of the trees. Hanna ~ not so much. She thought 5 buttons was perfect, and a half a bottle of glitter made those trees just perfect.

If you’re willing to let go of “right” when it comes to cooking with your kids you’re going to have a lot more fun.

2. Make it a game

It’s a perfect time to throw in some learning games. Count out teaspoons, or cookies put on the cookie tray.  Not only do they get some practice you get some help remembering just how many teaspoons of salt you already put in there.

3. Let them do

There’s nothing Hanna finds more frustrating than getting to help cook, but not really getting to help cook. My husband is notorious for this, he let’s her help but that really means you get to stand on a stool next to me.

Yes, messes will happen, but that’s how they learn and it can all be cleaned up.

Also ~ let them do things you may think they can’t do yet. Cracking eggs, measuring out flour, pouring liquids. Letting your kids do more than you think they can will build their self esteem and help them learn just how much they ARE capable of.

4. Let go of the mess

There’s likly going to be a mess when kids get to help cook. Just get over it. It can all be cleaned up later. How better to learn what happens when you turn the mixer on fast with flour in it than doing it? Flour is easily cleaned up ~ and the expression on your kiddos face will be priceless.

It may be much easier to just tell them what would happen if you did it, but the learning will be much deeper and more concrete if they get to experience it themselves. (this is true in all areas of life, not just the kitchen.)

5. Make it part of your regular days

It’s quite easy to set aside to cook with your kids when you’ve got a special project going on, holiday cookies, or a birthday cake. It’s more difficult to make special time during the week when life is crazy and your little one wants to help cook. Take a breath and find a way to let them in on the day to day cooking action. These will be times that will build a love of cooking, and fantastic memories.

If  you aren’t a big “cooker” yourself here are some great cookbooks to help you get started having fun cooking with your kids.

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