Toddlers. Aren’t they just the most wonderfully paradoxical little beings? Baby snuggles meets teenage egotism. They are strong-willed, they are adorable with their little faces and language grasping (and the colorful use of the word “no”), full of boogers, and completely fantastic.
Dinnertime can be one of the most stressful times of day. You’re scurrying in an attempt to feed hungry bellies at a decent hour while the little loves (who are under foot) demand a snack, a piggyback ride, or reading their favorite story– all at a shriek.
What’s a gal to do? Ignore? Holler? Give in? How about a new strategy– invite your kids to cook with you.
It is not as scary as it sounds. All it requires is a bit of patience and creativity. A stool or stepstool. And a collection of DULL kitchen tools.
One of my favorite go-to kitchen tools is a cheese spreader. You can use it to serve CHEESE, which is a perfect no brainer way to a good day. And, since they aren’t sharp, my little man can use it to make little dents into a bell pepper (as you can see below) and feel involved in cooking dinner. At his age (almost 2), he really doesn’t know that he isn’t slicing the pepper… he just realizes that he is being included in the process, feels important to be trusted, and is not ignored. The best part? He is in my line of vision and I know he isn’t R-U-N-N-O-F-T making trouble!
One amazing thing I have noticed is that he is more keen on trying the meals he is helping to create! Any person who has a daily interaction with a toddler knows that getting them to eat is a cause for celebration!
Please note that the grouping of cut bell peppers was my doing! If your little love is using a tool that can do THAT, it’s probably much too sharp and little fingers could also be added to the pile of chopped food.
Ways that my son loves to help in the kitchen that involves no tools? Putting cheese on pizza. Oh my. This makes him so very happy. And he sneaks in a lot of bites of cheese, so it’s good to have an excess on hand! He loves to add already chopped veggies to a big bowl, or to stir just about anything into a big bowl.
Another activity in the kitchen that my son loves to contribute to is the making of scrambled eggs! Now, this takes a bit of patience! I let him crack the eggs into a bowl. Granted, some end up on the counter, but hey! this is where the patience part comes in! Fortunately, the counter was clean and I just gently pushed the egg from the counter into the bowl with the others. The rest of the day, he was so happy to tell anyone that was willing to listen that he “crackkk eggsssss” with motions included.
How about you? Have you tried inviting your kids into the dinner-making process? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?