It’s a crazy busy time of the year, that I know.
And for the last few weeks, I’ve had kids home sick just about every day, so believe me when I say I’m ready for summer.
Though summer means no homework, no projects, and no busy after school afternoons, it also means kids home. A lot of kids home a lot of the time.
Which is so totally awesome and also sometimes hard.
It means three kids home for three meals a day. It means lots of food prep and a lot of food clean-up.
So this year, along with our summer of Tabletop Surprises, we’re also doing a whole lot more to get our kids active in the kitchen. Bam. Just like that.
Kids who know the kitchen, own the kitchen, and enjoy the kitchen.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- 5 Tips for Raising Kids Who Can Rock it in the Kitchen:
If we don’t start early with giving our kids some ownership of the everyday household jobs, it’ll just get more difficult to do so as they get older. Right? Right.
What do I mean by ‘rock it’ in the kitchen? I mean: Can kids hold their own in the kitchen?
Can they fix themselves a snack? Get breakfast together? Find ingredients to make a cake? Know how to whip up some scrambled eggs or a turkey sandy?
Do they feel like the kitchen is theirs and that they belong there?
They don’t have to be superstars. They just need to be able to rock it if they need to.
1. Make your kitchen kid-friendly.
Even if you can’t make major changes in your kitchen layout, designate a few child-only drawers low enough for kids to reach and that hold only their dishes, cups, and flatware. This will make unloading the dishwasher and gathering plates for mealtime easier.
Keeping and storing food in places that kids can reach also makes sense if you want kids to learn to prepare snacks and simple meals–which we definitely do.
We’ve really tried to keep our fridge kid-friendly by keeping fruits and veggies, yogurt and snacks within arms’ reach, and we have worked as a family to decide the best ‘homes’ for our pantry and staples.
I’ve been surprised at some of the choices the kids have made, but I’ve gone with it. And I’ve found that when you give kids a chance to make the choices, the kids are more likely to feel as if the kitchen is ‘theirs’.
2. Choose one helper each day.
Make one child your ‘special helper’ each day. That child helps you prepare meals, set the table, and act as your assistant chef. This is a great way to allow kids to experience serious hands-on learning in the kitchen each day.
One of my friends shared with me that she did this with her kids, and ever since, I’ve done the same.
We align our ‘helper’ with whomever’s day it is, so there’s never a question about whose turn it is. We simply check the calendar, and that person is my right-hand guy (or girl) for chopping, stirring, adding, and tasting.
3. Let them make menu choices.
At the beginning of the week, sit down as a family and choose the meals for that week, looking at recipe books, your favorite sites, etc. Make a grocery list, set aside coupons, and get ready to assemble ingredients!
This is easier said than done, I know. But the menu-planning not only gets all stakeholders involved in the process, but it even saves families serious dinero in the long run.
We honestly don’t go crazy with trying to find new recipes each week, especially during busy times; we usually stick with the staples.
But this summer we’ll for sure explore some new dishes and let each person research, plan, and prepare the meal. We’ve talked about this–and everyone’s totally psyched. Talk about a great way of getting kids to try new foods and learn at the same time!
4. Show your kids that you trust them.
Give kids space in the kitchen.
Let them help you unload the dishwasher, put away groceries, measure ingredients, and crack their own eggs. It might not always be pretty, but you will slowly grow confident kids in the kitchen.
I’ll never forget the time years and years ago that a teeny, tiny Owen tried to add ‘a few shakes of salt’ to our banana muffins and dropped the whole salt shaker into the mix. Or the time Maddy lost her balance while adding chocolate chips to cookie batter and fell into the bowl, tipping the whole thing onto the counter.
Or the time Cora tried to crack an egg and instead crushed the whole thing in her hands.
Mistakes happen, and often, kitchen floors are a complete mess after kids are cooking. But kids need a chance to try because they need to learn.
5. Make being in the kitchen fun.
Play music. Dance around. Play games where and when you can, and make being there a relaxing and exciting place. It’s all about the attitude!
Our kids have always loved having their own child-sized aprons. You can find them inexpensive at thrift shops, or you can even make your own. (Confession: my amazing and talented mother-in-law made some for our kids–lucky us!) I have also found some super-cute ones on Etsy.
It really doesn’t matter where you get them, but having aprons makes my kids at least feel like cooking is a little bit more fun. Like when they walk into the kitchen on their day, they throw on their apron, and they’re ready for business.
check out this cool, easy pdf that I (no joke!) helped Whirlpool create: Whirlpool_5TipsForKitchenKids
What do you think? Are your kids active in the kitchen this way?
Do you think they could be with a little effort? I’d love to hear it!
fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little ones who are learning to really ‘rock it’ in the kitchen. Affiliate link used for apron.
Want to know more about the appliances we have in our kitchen? We have (and love!) the Whirlpool® 28 cu. ft. 4-Door Refrigerator, the Whirlpool Gold Series Dishwasher with PowerScour option, the Microwave Hood Combination with AccuPop Cycle, and the Double Oven Gas Range with Convection Cooking. True. Love. Forever with these. Seriously TLF.