Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m taking a little break today from recipes to encourage you to invite your little ones into the kitchen to cook with you. As a mom of three boys, I’m rarely alone in the kitchen. But, baking and cooking with kids can be hectic and chaotic, and sometimes it’s tempting to try to shoo the little boogers out of your way and throw them an iPad to keep them occupied (guilty here) while you get back to the kitchen to do your thing. I thought I would take the time to intentionally think about all the reasons it’s worth the extra effort and patience it takes to invite the littles to be involved in the process. I’m giving myself a virtual kick in the pants here because I want to do better in this area, and also be an encouragement to those of you who influence the lives of kids, whether they are your own or just borrowed for the afternoon!
1. It teaches them teamwork
We work together to get the job done. One boy adds the salt, and the next vanilla. We take turns turning on the mixer, and fetching different ingredients. It’s a great way to learn to work together and practice taking turns, something that does not always come naturally!
2. It teaches to appreciate
Cooking with kids allows them to know that their food doesn’t just magically appear on their plate. Somebody had to work hard to fill their belly with good healthy food. This is why we say thank you to the hands that prepared it.
3. It teaches them about nutrition
It provides you with the opportunity to teach them about nutrition. You can tell them what nutrients the foods you are cooking with contain, and how this nutrient will benefit their body.
4. It teaches them to follow directions
Following a recipe is good for teaching kids to follow directions, and think in steps. Try having them think of something they would like to eat and then write their own recipe step by step.
5. It teaches them math concepts
Recipes are a great way to introduce basic math and chemistry concepts. You can teach them the different units of measurement, as well as how to measure liquids versus solids.
6. It teaches them patience
Kids learn the value of patience in the kitchen. Ten minutes is a long time to wait for chocolate chip cookies to bake!
7. It gives them ownership
If you are trying a new recipe and are uncertain how your kids will react to something unfamiliar, have them help you with the preparation. They are much more likely to be brave about trying something new if they take ownership of it by helping put it together.
8. It teaches them to have faith in the end product
Cooking with your kids helps them learn that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Sometimes I have my kids try the different ingredients of a cookie recipe by themselves. Salt, baking soda, lemon, and flour don’t taste very good alone, but when added to all the other ingredients, they make something delicious!
9. It teaches them a life skill
Unless your kids grow up to be rich and famous with a personal chef, chances are they will one day have to cook for themselves. Having three boys, and really enjoying the fact that my husband can whip up a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies, I really want to do their future wives a favor by teaching them how to cook as well.
10. It fills up their love tank
Most kids love to be included in what you are doing. Spending time with your kids makes them feel loved. Whether it’s folding laundry, pulling weeds, changing the oil, or chopping vegetables, they just want to be with you. Just because you are trying to get your to-do checked off, it doesn’t mean you can’t be spending quality time with your kids and making memories too!
So pick something easy to start, and invite those little crumb snatchers (or crumb makers) to come into the kitchen and create something wonderful together! And I will too.