Without fail, if my children discover me in the kitchen, three wooden chairs are dragged into the room. Three beaming faces show up at my elbow, and six little hands start picking, prying, and poking at what I am doing.
Sound familiar? How does one balance fostering a love of learning and helping in the kiddos, but also retaining one's sanity?
I no longer allow three additional cooks in the kitchen with me and breakfast time. Cooking oatmeal or scrambling eggs are both very simple, quick preparations. "Helpers" usually make the process take twice as long and make it three times messier. My two year old is a very energetic egg beater--but also an expert egg spiller. The girls are wonderful stirrers, but somehow the butter disappears whenever they are at the cooking counter. So when I need to cook quickly, the kitchen gate goes up.
Yet I do love to share our love of cooking with the kids. They seriously enjoy being in the kitchen, and are learning wonderful things, such as counting, following directions, and more advanced coordination to name a few.
So when I am making something that I can break down into simpler tasks for them, and when I am not pressed for time, I like to let them in the kitchen. Snack foods such as muffins, trail mix, or food processor foods like dips for veggies are all fun. They get the immediate gratification of tasting what they make, and they are not time intensive for
|Pretty much what it feels like with them in the kitchen.|
Today, we made muffins, and what a glorious mess we had. I gave each child a separate job--beating (spilling) eggs, chopping (dropping) nuts, and stirring (flinging) flour. Of course I got slightly frustrated when things started to slightly unravel, but they all loved the process, and were gleeful about their participation in preparing the day's snack.