Cooking With the Kids, not just For the Kids!1/15/2012 A year ago I made a personal choice to cut preservatives out of my diet. After a few weeks I realized that making a dinner from scratch was going to have a few challenges. Everyday I'd find myself singing and dancing around the kitchen with my clingy 1 year old on my hip and a 3 year old twin firmly attached to each ankle. While I enjoyed the giggles, and dragging them around the kitchen was a great work out, it simply wasn't conducive to getting dinner on the table. So I started a new regime in our house.
Submitted by www.upnorthtwinmom.wordpress.com
A year ago I made a personal choice to cut preservatives out of my diet. After a few weeks I realized that making a dinner from scratch was going to have a few challenges. Everyday I'd find myself singing and dancing around the kitchen with my clingy 1 year old on my hip and a 3 year old twin firmly attached to each ankle. While I enjoyed the giggles, and dragging them around the kitchen was a great work out, it simply wasn't conducive to getting dinner on the table.
So I started a new regime in our house. During naps I would review my recipe to see where the kids could help. If it didn't involve a knife or heat, it was mentally put into a "station" the kids could rotate through. I then ensured there was a simple craft (coloring, playdoh, stickers) handy for the inevitable "I don't want to help make dinner tonight".
Once it's time to start dinner the kids know what to do. One will move a few chairs over to the counter, another will open the fridge and holler "what am I looking for!?!" while the third runs for the bathroom to be the first to wash their hands.
I've learned from my husband that the kids are more capable then I sometimes think. Since I watched my three year old crack an egg without a problem, I've realized I need to give them more challenging tasks then just washing vegetables. They tear lettuces, measure dry ingredients, stir everything, etc. I'm not afraid to make messes, as messes usually ends up being the thing they remember the next time. "Remember last time we made meatloaf, mommy? The oatmeal spilled and Lily Belle had it in her pants?".
So now I set them up in an assembly line. Tonight Ted (1yo) washed the asparagus, then helped me load some things into the dishwasher. Lily Belle snapped the asparagus, and set the table. Pierce drizzled the veggies with olive oil and used the pepper grinder to season them. (side note--we often have WAY over seasoned food. No one notices or complains, so I guess they season it to their own tastes!) I popped them in the oven and the kids took off to make ice cream cones out of lime green Playdoh. After dinner they all brought their dirty dishes to the counter, Lily rinsed them and Pierce loaded the dishwasher. Ted was the lucky one who got to hit the buttons to start the cycle, a job they all covet.
We honestly have fun making dinner. Occasionally I resort to a quick save and turn on PBS, but the majority of the time we enjoy making dinner together.
So many of my friends and family have told me they couldn't cook every night saying it's too expensive, time consuming or takes time away from their kids. When I start in explaining how to eat foods that are in season, getting the most out of the foods you do buy, planning meals by grocery sale ads, and to try cooking with your kids most people just nod and say they's like to do it. So I nod, and hope that everyone makes the effort to at least make one meal a week with their kids. It is such a great way to get them to enjoy their food, and for you to enjoy them. Just make sure you all are prepared to clean up the messes together...there will be messes. The messes are half the fun.
I'm living proof that you can cook from scratch and spend fun quality time with your kids while you do. You may have an over seasoned pork loin, or shells in your omelette, but the laughter you will also have makes it so worth it.