We love cooking as a family and getting our kids in the kitchen. I strongly believe that teaching children to cook is one of the best ways to get them engaged in nutrition and ingredient sourcing and ultimately help them lead a healthy life.
Sometimes, though, it can be a bit of a messy experience.
With three boys ages five and under, we have a whole crew of little hands-on culinary artists. Here's how we've learned to maximize the kitchen fun and minimize the mess.
Create a work surface. Clear off a big table or countertop so kids don't have to work around clutter. I like to lay that sticky saran wrap down on the table if we're tackling a really messy task.
Use simple measurements they can understand. I do my very best to find recipes that use basic whole-tablespoon and cup amounts. Once they can easily visualize one cup of flour and one teaspoon of salt, we branch off into quarter-cups and even ounces, pints and more complicated units of measure.
Choose age-appropriate tools. For example, I often have Some Boy – our five-year-old – use a stick blender because it's easier for him to maneuver than a hand blender. Plus, it's more fun for him to use.
Don't make them be neat and tidy. There's just no point, and constant reminders to “be careful!” can ruin the fun. I parlay the whole “kids in the kitchen” experience into a little lesson in the art of cause-and-effect, showing the boys that messy food and the occasional spill simply means it's time to do some laundry!
Just like we select the best tool for the job while cooking, my kids know it's important to use a powerful detergent for tough stains. Our sponsor OxiClean™ HD™ Laundry Detergent blasts away stains like none other. The before-and-after and hands-on experience gives the boys (and myself) a real sense of accomplishment.
For older kids, it's also a smart lesson in wise spending: springing for the high-quality stuff produces TRUE value in terms of effectiveness.
Let them eat with their shirts off. As long as you've gotten the laundry going, save yourself from any further mess by waiting to get re-dressed until after you indulge.
Get them involved in clean-up. We have Some Boy already helping out with laundry, and we also have Sidekick getting hands-on with dishes and table clean-up. Choose age appropriate tasks to teach them that many hands make light work. Which brings me to my last point…
Start them young. Even tiny tots can stack a couple crackers on top of each other or dip a cheese stick in some sauce. Use what you have and let them enjoy the dining experience!
What special tips or tricks do you have for having fun with your kids in the kitchen?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Oxiclean™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Oxiclean™ all opinions are my own.