The holiday season can be completely overwhelming. The mere thought of having your kids “help” you with holiday baking could send even the most grounded parent over the edge. It doesn’t have to be this way… I promise! I can have you to the top of Santa’s nice list with a little prep and the appropriate kid-friendly recipes . Truth be told, having your kids help in the kitchen is an awesome learning opportunity. You can work on fine motor skills (pouring and stirring) counting, memory, sight and smell recognition..the list is endless. It is also a really stealthy way to work on sensory skills . Kids who are a iffy with touching certain textures, will usually let all the apprehension fall away if they are engaged with the project (recipe) at hand. For example: kids who aren’t fond of getting their hands dirty will most likely not even notice they are knee deep in dusty flour as they are helping you sift dry ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Mabel LOVES to bake with my mom. My heart nearly explodes watching the two of them in the kitchen together. I’m really excited to see Evelyn get into the mix now that she is bigger.
How do you incorporate your little ones into your kitchen? Here are my top tips:
Deep Breath & Take Your Time: Don’t let the holiday stress get to you. Like our pal Elsa says, Let it Go!! Focus on creating delightful holiday memories and traditions with your little ones. Set aside extra time and don’t sweat it. It will take you longer to cook/bake than it normally does. Remember for little ones, it is the journey, not the destination. They will be so happy to be part of the process. Some of my fondest childhood moments were in the kitchen with my mom. I promise all your baked goodies will taste even better with all the love that will be poured into them.
Wash Those Hands: Teach your kids one of the most important culinary lessons… Washing your hands before starting any recipe. Germs can make you sick and washing your hands will help keep germs out of your food. A big part of safe cooking is keeping the chef and the kitchen clean.
Safety First: Tell your child how happy you are to have them help you, but part of helping is making sure they are safe at all times. Tell them that it is very important that they listen to your directions and ask before touching anything. Each time you introduce a new item (mixer, blender, food processor) make sure you repeat any/all safety information.
Being part of the action in the kitchen can inspire notoriously picky eaters to be more adventurous...
Plan Ahead: Have all of your ingredients, bowls, mixers, measuring cups, etc. pulled out and at the ready. You don’t want to be digging for parts to your mixer while little hands start “helping” by pouring flour all over your kitchen floor. Oh I remember that day well!!
Reference Material: Even though this is a family recipe you swear you know by heart, make sure you have your recipe printed, cookbook turned to the right page or iPad or tablet tuned into the recipe at hand. You will most likely be distracted with the addition of your pint-sized helper. This will help you keep to task. Plus holiday baking usually means the doubling of recipes which adds more thought to the entire process 😉 These protective sleeves are perfect for kitchen use with your iPad or iPad mini.
Tools of the Trade: Before handing over any tools to your junior sous chef, make sure you check for sharp edges. You will be surprised how sharp some culinary items can be. Who knew a pastry blender could also double as a weapon? Kidding aside, just give all your tools a check before you hand them off to your helper. A great gift idea for any aspiring culinary wiz is this foundation kit or even this cute apron for kids . For the serious child foodie in the making, there’s this junior chef jacket .
Taste Test: Being part of the action in the kitchen can inspire notoriously picky eaters to be more adventurous. That’s why it was so important to me that we had a garden this year and we went apple picking . I think it is so important to share our connection to what we eat.
How do you include your kids in the kitchen? Do you have any favorite recipes you like to make together? Any favorite holiday recipes? Next week I will share a favorite holiday recipe that is perfect to make with kids.