Wow! I had planned to write this post and share this topic near and dear to my heart BEFORE the pandemic started, not realizing that this might be full of some helpful tips for moms, dads, and caregivers having kids at home full time.
I’m pretty sure we all find ourselves at home more than normal because of COVID-19. With schools, restaurants, sports, and social events closed or canceled, you might find yourself needing to adjust to a new schedule and routine lately. But you still need to keep your home and family life running, and do something to keep those kids busy!
I started implementing ways to involve my kids in the kitchen very early on. With homeschooling and farming added to our plates over the years, I really needed help and efficiency in the kitchen just to juggle all the things and keep home life running smoothly.
Below, I have 5 simple ways that you can let kids help in the kitchen. I think that by cooking together you can build one-on-one time with them, and teach them a valuable skill at the same time.
I believe that you can take this unexpected turn of events and find creative ways to build connections with your kids. You’ve got this!
-Just a note for parents who have tiny kids or haven’t let the kids help much in the kitchen before: let go of expectations and embrace the temporary mess that kids can cause in the kitchen. This was a hard thing for me to do, but so worth it.
-Keep them safe above all. The kids are messy at first for sure, but with practice and more time with you, it gets better and easier. I promise… start small, with letting them help a little, and then you’ll both grow in confidence and you’ll feel like you can let them help even more.
- Have them make “no-cook” snacks. (Ideas: Trail Mix, Cheese and Crackers, celery boats). We love letting our kids make a simple snack in a big bowl just by mixing cherrios, raisins, and chocolate chips. Then they all get to mix some and enjoy their work! Great for tiny hands, 3-7 year olds.
- Lunch helpers- Let a child be in charge of making all the PB & Js for the family, or meat sandwiches. Kids usually love spreading condiments and making sandwiches. Great for 4-8 year olds.
- Slicing safe- Have little ones use a butter knife and a cutting board to help cut up soft foods like watermelon, cucumbers, apples, bread, etc. This can keep them busy for a long long time. Great for 3-7 year olds. Our children this age just love cutting food into tiny pieces. And then eating them!
- Skillet training- Have mature enough 8-12 year olds cook up ground beef in a skillet for dinner while you work on side dishes. Our big kids love doing this and it doesn’t take them long to understand the safety rules around cooking on the stovetop.
- Teen Dinner Night- Give your teen the challenge of preparing one weeknight meal out of just what’s in the pantry or fridge currently and give supervision as needed. This is a great skill for any young person to learn, and it lets them be creative. Hopefully it will be a tasty experiment. If not, they can always try again.
My last and final tip. If you can, have a small stool and a mini apron ready and waiting for whenever you invite your little helper into the kitchen. The younger the child, the less time they’ll want to spend helping you normally, and they are usually happy with one simple task and then want to go play. Older kids can sometimes stay for longer and help even more. Eventually, your children will become a true help to you in the kitchen because you’ve trained them and allowed them to make those messes and mistakes at first.
At the end of the day, you can feel good knowing you’ve fed your family a good meal, helped train your kids in a valuable skill, made them feel like they are doing something helpful and important, and build connections with them all at the same time!
Please share with others that might could use some tips and inspiration, and let me know in the comments other ideas of how you like to let kids help in the kitchen.