Have you ever noticed that once you begin the process of making a meal, there becomes several tiny hands tugging and pulling on you? Yep, that’s me! It’s as if the kitchen fairies encourage my daughter to be right underneath me while I am trying to put things in the oven. I have found that including her in the process can make the whole experience go smoother. Notice I didn’t say faster? Having a toddler or young child help you in the kitchen can be an extremely messy and stressful experience, but it can also leave you with lasting memories. Ultimately, this is what I want as a mom – to make memories. I want to live in the moment and not always be concerned with the time or mess. Don’t get me wrong; I am still like any other parent. There are days we have time constraints… Days that I don’t want to clean up a big mess in the kitchen… Then I remember all of the fun we have and how much she is growing from these daily experiences.
I didn’t grow up in the kitchen. There are no memories of my mother and I cooking or baking together. That is not to say I didn’t have an amazing childhood. We had a lot of mother-daughter experiences, cooking just wasn’t one of them. I knew this was something I wanted to change when I had children.
When we had our daughter, we lived in a cozy, two-bedroom apartment of no more then 600 sq. ft. Needless to say my dream of being in the kitchen with my child wasn’t a possibility at the time. Fast forward 21 months later and here we are in our first home, with what I would describe as a large kitchen. While in many aspects I would not call in my “dream” kitchen, I would say its perfect for me. I actually have a dishwasher, room to move, counter, and storage space! So, while it may not have the charming appeal of beauty, it is the perfect place for making memories.
Aside from making memories, the kitchen is an excellent place for a child’s educational development. While my daughter stands on the step stool, I talk her through the process of our cooking/baking adventures. “We need a mixing bowl.” She responds, “Mixing bowl.” “Now I need to crack two eggs.” While she will no longer eat eggs, apparently it is hilarious to watch me crack them! I always count aloud the amount of cups or teaspoons I am placing in the bowl. Have you ever heard of Gallon man? He was a great teaching tool when I taught sixth grade. Within the next year or two I hope to have him proudly displayed in our kitchen, in an effort to make measurements easier to understand before our daughter enters kindergarten. The kitchen is the perfect environment for extending literacy and math skills.
Another positive to including my toddler in the cooking process has been to help combat the “picky eater” stage. Honestly, I was under the delusion that we would bypass this stage and so many others… Unfortunately, around 21 months it came full force. Having her assist me in dumping ingredients into the mixing bowl or stir seems to go along way in the mind of toddler. Plus, I always make a huge deal out of it! “Wow, you made this! I can’t wait to eat it! Do you want to lick the spoon while I put this in the oven?” The lengths a parent with go to have a child try something is AMAZING! If you saw me you would understand. I look like a giant dork – jumping up and down, while clapping! “Yay! You made some delicious food!” Whatever works right!?
Healthy eating habits were never a topic of discussion in my house. We hardly spent any time, if ever in the fresh produce section of the grocery store. Most of our foods consisted box meals, processed food, 85% fat ground beef, etc. See the pattern? But if you’re a kid who grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, healthy eating was not a big topic. Honestly, it wasn’t a prevalent topic amongst my friend’s parents or in schools. As a result, I have always struggled with my weight and eating health. This is not something I want for my child and future children. I want the discussion of health eating to be a regular topic from the start. But that it simply not enough – my husband and I need to demonstrate healthy eating habits as well. To be honest, we have done a great job thus far. We are not perfect and there are still things we are working on, but as far as our toddler goes – she eats more, well-balanced healthy meals then I ever did.
Is the kitchen the focal point of your home? Do you make beautiful, messy memories with your picky eaters? If not, give it a try – your children might just surprise you!
Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You