This messy kitchen is a happy kitchen. She’s beaming at you; eyes alight with delight and pride having placed her very first cookies in the oven – with your help. Pigtails, momma’s apron, and floured up cheeks…she’s perfect.
Unfortunately, your kitchen is empty, sparkling clean, and you’re alone staring at the Pinterest picture, while your entourage is busy doing “stuff.” You get the urge to shake things up a bit. You want to teach, to play, to bond while the kids are home.
Stay calm. We have 3 kid-proof ideas for making even the most reluctant family member ditch their “stuff” for a bit and actually enjoy some family time.
- Make it a present. Hand your child a wrapped present with a simple note inside – “This week we’re cooking a meal together.” The gift can be their own apron, personalized spatula, or their first measuring cup. Ask older kids what they want to cook and when, then tell them they’re in charge. You’re simply second fiddle. Ask toddlers and preschoolers what they want to cook with you. Browse our recipe library for inspiration.
- Play make-believe. Wouldn’t you have more fun making pasta if you were wearing a puffy white chef hat, speaking in an Italian accent, and listening to Dean Martin sing That’s Amore? Let the kids choose the country where they want to eat, and cook your way there together.
- Bring out the Jar Game. Any empty jar or bowl is the perfect tool. Write various kitchen “roles” on pieces of scrap paper and throw them in the jar. Each family member (including both parents) must pick one and perform the task at the next meal. If you have smaller children, make a special jar for them with duties at their level. Fun is once again key. Here are some examples: Little Chemist (You get to help measure and pour), Teppanyaky (Like a Japanese steakhouse chef, you get to clean and chop ingredients), Cinderella (you get cleanup duty), etc.
If all else fails, start a food fight. Preferably when everyone’s in a good mood. Just remember…a messy kitchen is a happy kitchen. This may become your mantra during cleanup.
These are some of our ideas. What has worked for you to get your kids more involved in the kitchen?