Kids In The Kitchen: A Moms Guide to Creating Magic

 

toddler buttering bread on counterLet me be frank for a moment—I was raised in a home where mess was simply not allowed. Zero. Zilch. Nada. So, naturally, I rebelled against that. And yes, since you’re asking, it drives my mother b-a-n-a-n-a-s! As a mom, I thrive in a creative mess. The freedom to be messy in play has created some great memories in our home. Our favorite place for that? The kitchen! My son has been helping in the kitchen since he could sit up on his own, and at the ripe age of 3 he confidentially knows his way around the kitchen. It’s not always easy, but the payoff is always worth it. I’ve got some tips and tools for kids in the kitchen so you can start making creative messes with your little ones too!

How it Started

toddler pouring oat flour on floor and laying in lettuce
Playing in oat flour; crawling in lettuce that was about to expire.

As one might imagine, having kids in the kitchen is a messy experience. Let me tell you a secret—that’s where the magic happens. Let me tell you another secret—the mess can ALWAYS be cleaned up, so just let it happen, mama.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Embrace the chaos and embrace the memories.

Kids are curious creatures. Watch what happens when curiosity meets culinary.

We started with the basics of scooping and mixing {mostly things that we could clean up and use again–think dry oats}. In the beginning, the exploration happened with items we weren’t actually going to consume. But, the side-by-side interaction and conversations formed our foundation.

EDUCATING ON THE BASICS

mom and toddler sit on kitchen floor preparing food
Making popsicles together; pouring apples in an instant pot for applesauce.

Aside from the mess, another common resistance I’ve heard with kids in the kitchen is about safety. At our house, we embrace the concept of “doing dangerous things safely”. There are SO MANY opportunities to teach about safety in the kitchen. Don’t feel comfortable around the stove or oven yet? Try letting your little help put things in the blender, instant pot, air fryer, etc.

Starting where you feel comfortable allows room for both you and your little one to grow together. I am constantly teaching and reminding my son about safety measures in the kitchen. From fire safety to knife safety and everything in between. These are moments we choose to teach about instead of fear. Through our time in the kitchen, my son has also learned the value of composting and reducing waste. Together we have learned which foods make it to our compost and which foods have to be tossed. There are also so many opportunities to teach the concept of growing our own food {but, that’s a post for another day.}

Tools for Teaching

toddler using knife to slice mushrooms
Independently grabbed his own knife, a cutting board, and began chopping mushrooms for dinner.

Those tiny hands are capable of a heck of a lot more than we like to give them credit for. And, there are some really neat tools out there to give our kiddos the knowledge and confidence of learning their way around a kitchen. I think I’ve tried pretty much every product amazon offers in this arena, and most of it isn’t necessary. When you’re ready to give your little one a bit more freedom, here’s what you’ll need! Bonus–you probably have most of it in your kitchen already!

Learning Life Skills

As a {new to the game} home school mama, I constantly look for ways to incorporate teachable moments into our daily activities. Working together in the kitchen provides opportunities for both of us to learn and grow. First and foremost, those motor skills are developed through the slicing and dicing, the seasoning, the cracking of eggs, and the mixing of ingredients.

toddler cracking egg in bowl
cracking an egg to make fried chicken.

Cooking together in the kitchen creates ideal moments for fostering critical life skills. Following a recipe can build communication skills, problem solving, and teamwork. NOT following a recipe {my favorite} allows for ample creativity. I will often review basic shapes and colors while we are cooking. In addition, learning about the five senses while in the kitchen seems like basically the perfect place to do so. By continuing to learn all of these life skills, we all continue to grow with confidence. Allowing kids in the kitchen will continue to foster their autonomy, and importantly can teach patience. That patience goes for us too, mamas.

Kids in the Kitchen: How it’s Going

Let’s not get fooled here, some days are less than stellar when cooking with such tiny hands. Patience is often tested and sometimes it’s an altogether disaster. BUT, more often than not, my little one is asking why I didn’t wait for him to cook dinner. He is eager to help and eager to learn {and eager to taste EVERYTHING.} He outshines his dad in the kitchen any day.

Listen, I get it, this is a messy affair. I’ll *gently* remind you that it can all be cleaned up. Think of the lessons behind that! Embrace the mess and teach about the hard work behind cleaning up after ourselves. Then sit back and reap the benefits {and maybe grab a glass of wine.} The smile and surprise on my son’s face after an afternoon of baking bread was magic for us both.

toddler on counter kneading bread
Kneading bread.

Let’s get messy and let’s get our kids in the kitchen!


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Becca is a small-town {and likely barefoot} Louisiana girl who’s journey to Texas was unexpected to say the least. After getting her Masters in Social Work from LSU, she spent a few years working in mental health before she found her true social work love in hospice care. Not long after getting hitched to the best guy she knows, Becca and her husband welcomed their full of life red headed son {2018} and they now refer to themselves as “the big 3”! Fast forward to early 2021 when Becca was diagnosed with something that changed their lives forever and so, they picked up and headed west. What was supposed to be a short time in Houston for these small-town folks turned into a big city romance, a mortgage, some unexpected friendships, and a few opportunities to grow. Some might say Becca tends to err on the side of sarcasm and stubbornness. But those same people would also say that Becca is brave and compassionate. She’s a straight shooter, a little bit crunchy, and a lover of all things love. When she’s not building forts or playing pretend, you can find Becca roaming the isles at the grocery store, cooking for hours, or snuggled up with a good book. Follow her journey on Instagram at @thisblissfulpursuit.

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