I’ve been trying to get the boys as involved as possible with things at home.
Besides the fact that they are responsible for keeping their room clean (a mission on its own) and tidying up their toys from almost each room in our home, there’s a whole other list of chores they have to do each day, sorted by their age abilities.
It’s still a mission to get them to do what they need to do each day because there’s always a fight about something or they have “pain”, a new fake excuse to get out of chores which just doesn’t work with me.
One of the biggest time consuming things in my day is dinner prep. While the menus I work from are quick to cook/bake, the prep takes sometime to do, which means a chunk of my time during the day is lost due to this.
Over the last couple of month since Cay’s birth, I have tried to include the boys to help with cooking sometimes…
It really wasn’t the best experience because I didn’t have the patience for it. Gremlin wanted to fool around with the ingredients and the food and Monster just didn’t like taking time away from playing. So everything took twice as long and in the end I was behind on cooking and that just caused more frustration.
There were other reasons as well.
The mess they made. They didn’t take anything seriously and things fell on the floor or spilled over and spattered against the walls, and I had to CLEAN everything, while trying to finish dinner in time so that everyone could eat…
Whining. That was the other reason I started slowly giving up on trying to involve them with preparing dinner with me. Each action, each word, each suggestion; all these were followed by constant whining. Which if you hear over and over, you’re going to lose your mind. Each time I suggested something, Monster would whine about it. If I need to chop something up, and I explained why I needed to do it, Gremlin would whine because he wasn’t doing it. It was really one way to push up my blood pressure and to turn into a steaming pot.
However I have come a long a little, really) way to understand what I’ve been doing wrong and actually making the whole experience very unfun for them, causing them to react the way they did each time.
Now before I get to the part where I explain how to make it fun for your kids, I want to chat about the benefits of letting your kids help you with preparing dinner! As frustrated as it may make you, it’s beneficial to your kids as well as you!
I’m not saying you need to give the whole floor to your kids to do everything, I mean, keeping it in the age limitations, but you can teach your kids to be responsible and independent by letting them work on something that they know they can do and no one else (in that moment).
Teaches hard work
Cooking isn’t fun for me, I’ll admit it and I do it every day. It becomes tedious. And the boys are still under the impression that you just snap your fingers and dinner is ready. They don’t fully understand the work that goes into preparing food and the time it takes from scratch to finish. By letting them help me in the kitchen, they share the work in preparing dinner for everyone and have a glimpse of how long it can take and how much hard work goes into it. It teaches them that not everything in life is just given and that it takes effort to get what you want, like preparing your own meal.
It’s a time for bonding
Life is pretty hectic with three kids at home, and I don’t always have time to spend quality time with each kid. By letting them helping me with preparing dinner, we have an opportunity to spend time together and bond, make memories and even keep it educational as we chat about what we’re doing.
While you might look into the negative aspects of letting your kids cook with you, the positive ones are pretty damn good to work towards and give the experience another chance.
After a couple of trials and errors, I’ve worked out a couple of tips and ways to make cooking with your kids fun, and make you want to make a habit of it!
Easy recipes and instructions
The harder you make the recipes and instructions, the more resistance your kids will show against the activity. And if they don’t understand what you’re saying, frustration levels will rise in everyone.
Wash, mix and sprinkle
If your kid is old enough to chop and work the stove then it’s cool, but if they’re still too young for either, let them help wash the vegetables, mix and whisk the sauces and sprinkle the spices over. It might be something quick that you can do but it’s an important job for them to carry out and they will feel proud of their efforts.Take turns
My kids fight because they want to do something at the same time, especially something that can only be done by one person at a time. Enforce the rule of taking turns, including you so that everyone gets a chance and everyone ends up happy.
Talk about what you’re making
As I mentioned above, this can be very educational. Talk about what you’re doing, what you’re cooking, ask them questions about what they are doing, how they are feeling, etc. Keep it interactive to keep their minds busy, absorbing information through fun.
Show and tell
My kids LOVE watching cooking shows with us (that’s where they found their love for noodles) so to make time pass a little faster in the kitchen, I make them pretend we’re on our own cooking show and we’re telling our audience what we’re doing. And it’s so fun watching the boys take on personas for the fake camera in our kitchen.
We listen to music a lot in our home when we’re not busy with our school work and the boys love hearing their fav tunes when we’re busy with our chores. Playing music while cooking can keep your spirits and emotions on a high.
Making it for someone else
Knowing that they are cooking for everyone to eat, they take a sense of pride in what they are doing and they try add in a little extra effort. Explaining to them the importance of giving your best does create a sense of achievement for them to want to do it again.
Clean up together
It’s fun to cook and have fun, but cleaning up afterwards-not so much. Let them assist you with helping with cleaning up because it teaches them responsibility as well and leaving a room in the same state as they found it.
Let them go
If your kids end up fighting that day with you about cooking, don’t force them to stay there. They are going to get cranky, they are going to whine and you’ll actually do more harm than good. By forcing them to stay there will create a negative impact on them and they will always associate it with cooking (until they’re a little older but who has the time to wait?)
What tips do you have to make cooking with kids fun?