I enjoy letting Eli help me in the kitchen. Really, I do! I found out very early on that it is easier to keep him entertained by letting him help me, than any other way. I also think cooking has taught him (and will continue to teach him) many important skills. While we cook, we talk about the ingredients, we count things, and learn that it is not good to touch the hot toaster. It isn’t always smooth sailing letting a 2 year old help in the kitchen, so here are some things I have learned that have helped the process go more smoothly for us.
1. Keep it simple– You don’t have to make a cake from scratch for your kids to be impressed. There are muffin mixes out there that are so simple you just add milk. Heck, Eli likes to help me make toast, and honestly, there is a lot he can learn from making toast. The best part is that he is much more likely to eat whatever it is, if he has helped make it.
2. Get prepared– If I am tackling a bigger project like pumpkin bread or granola bars, I try to get out all of my ingredients before I get Eli situated to help. I also get out any utensils, measuring cups, and bowls I’ll need. Also, make sure you have a safe place for your child to stand while helping you. We learned this the hard way when Eli fell backwards off a chair. He is fine 🙂 But we went out that day and got a step stool that works much better than the chair!
3. Let go of perfection–There will be messes. Not all of the flour will make it into the bowl each time. I try to give Eli direction and help, but not so much that he isn’t actually doing anything on his own. Yes, I cringe when I hand him the measuring cup full of oil, but if I help him hold it each time, when will he ever learn to do it on his own?
4. Use it as a learning experience– Cooking is way more fun than sitting down with a worksheet! Count things, name things, spell things. Allow your child to taste, feel, and smell ingredients. It is amazing how much learning can occur while cooking!
5. Make it fun!- Eli loves to wear an apron, even if it is 10 sizes too big. He loves to stir ‘Fast, Fast, Fast!’, and he loves to help me remember that the recipe needs ‘2 cups of something’…Oh and he LOVES to look at our creations in the oven…through the door of course. Your child will absorb your excitement and give it back tenfold!