Mommas, I know how things can get when you let the kids help out in the kitchen. They get underfoot and you have to repeat things over and over again and again. In fact, many times things seem to go faster when you don’t let them help but trust me, you want them to help just as much as they want to help. In the long run, it will be beneficial to everyone if you can get them in the kitchen as soon as possible!
I really don’t let my kids help as much as they could and I am working on finding ways to get them in there more. My youngest son really LOVES being a kitchen helper and he can do quite a few things on his own and even more with supervision.
My kids have always been in the kitchen when I worked. When they were little they would sit contentedly banging wooden spoons onto pans or plastic bowls.
Then they start watching everything I do and ‘helping out’ by taste testing and letting me know if it needs something else.
Little ones can also help load/unload the dishwasher, fold kitchen cloths, and maybe even put away things in lower cabinets.
As they get older and have more skills they can begin helping to tear lettuce, spread peanut butter and jelly, add premeasured ingredients to the bowl, and even stirring up ingredients.
They also love to help set the table and we have had a lot of fun learning about different table manners with Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids. They also learn to clean up their places after each meal and carry their dishes to the kitchen so they can be cleaned.
It is so important to get them involved and let them know how important their participation is to the whole family.
We’ve also had a lot of fun learning knife skills with the Kids Cook Real Food program. I know that can sound a little scary and unsafe… letting a kid have a knife but Katie and her kiddos really make it a lot of fun and my kids really enjoy the lessons. She has a lot of great tips for getting kids into the kitchen and teaching them the life skills that they need… this is especially important now that a lot of schools no longer have Home Economics programs.
Once they’ve learned a few tricks and mastered some basic cleaning skills like wiping the table I start them on washing dishes. Most kids really enjoy it at first but I know that there are some who really despise it, like my 12-year-old. The most important thing is to make sure that they have other duties in the kitchen like helping to prepare meals and such so that they don’t despise everything that is kitchen related.
My kids love to help clean up as long as it doesn’t include doing the dishes for the 12-year-old and I love having the extra help… most of the time. I also love using our Norwex products instead of nasty chemicals because kids will be kids and sometimes the window spray finds it’s way into brother’s or sister’s eye because someone was playing around. With the Norwex Envirocloths all you need is a little bit of water in a spray bottle to clean almost anything.
We have been letting the kids help to plan out meals every so often and surprisingly enough they don’t ask for pizza all the time. They get to plan the main course, sides, and maybe even a dessert with a budget that we set. They then have to come up with the grocery list and go to the store to buy what they need. They really enjoy doing this and it is giving them some life experiences that they will need in the future.
Many days I will send the older girls into the kitchen to make a quick lunch which usually consists of sandwiches. They are also in charge of snacks at times because I am always hearing:
“Mom, can I have a snack?” If that’s something you hear a lot at your house, you’ll definitely want to grab this free ebook full of healthy snacks kids can make →
These little ways help to get the kids in the kitchen and inspire them to love cooking. We have found that my kids are more eager to try out new foods if they’ve had a hand in preparing them. They ask for things like fennel and parsnips when we go grocery shopping because we’ve tried them out and let them help make dishes with these new ingredients.
Try to come up with one or two things that you can let your kids help with in the kitchen next week. Just one or two and then once they’ve mastered those you can move on to something else. If you need some ideas on what your kiddos can or should be doing check out this awesome Life Skills Checklist from Kids Cook Real Food.
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