Meals are a time of togetherness. Moms and dads are stuck in the kitchen while the kids run through the house, and there isn’t much family interaction. To create lasting memories and keep the kids out of trouble, try including your little ones in the meal preparation!
Kids are very eager to help with cooking and baking activities because it gives them a sense of pride as they work alongside mom or dad. There are many kitchen jobs that can be assigned to children when parents carefully supervise and instruct.
1. Homemade butter.
This is great for a young toddler. Little ones love to shake containers, cups, and anything they can get their hands on. Grab a resealable container with a sturdy lid and fill it with whole cream and a little salt. Secure the lid on the container with a couple rubber bands, and give the package to your kids. Tell them to shake the container, and watch them giggle with glee as they pass the mixture around. In about fifteen minutes, you will have fresh, homemade butter!
2. Mashed potatoes.
Another kid-friendly activity is to let your kids take charge of the mashed potatoes. After you have peeled and boiled a pot full of potatoes, drain the water and allow the potatoes to cool for a few minutes so that your children do not burn themselves. Then, let your children get to work on the potatoes with an old-fashioned potato masher. As they break up the potatoes, stir in the appropriate amounts of salt, pepper, butter, and milk. Kids think this is just as fun as playing in a sandbox, and it’s a great activity for even the roughest of boys.
3. Deviled eggs.
Filling deviled eggs is a great activity for the preschooler who loves to draw and color. Simply prepare your filling and pour it into a resealable plastic bag. Then, cut a small chunk out of the bottom corner of the bag. Show your child how to squeeze the filling through this hole into the hardboiled eggs, and then hand the task over to your little helper. The eggs may not turn out picture perfect, but the smile on your child’s face as he or she helps you prepare the meal will be priceless!
4. Pumpkin pie.
Parents of toddlers and preschoolers know that their little ones love to pour. Use this fascination to your advantage by allowing your younger children to fill pumpkin pies. Mix all of the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and let your children spoon the mixture into pie crusts using large ladles. Be sure to give your children lots of praise for being such good helpers!
Dinner is not complete without a basket of warm rolls to accompany the meal, and crescent-shaped rolls are one of the most enjoyed bread options. Incorporate your kids into the baking by giving your children triangle-shaped sections of dough and allowing them to roll the triangles into crescents. This activity is a lot like playing with play dough, and kids will enjoy tasting their creations during the meal.
Many moms and dads dread meal preparation–especially on holidays–because it can consume the entire day. Instead of interacting with their kids, parents are stuck in the kitchen. However, kids and parents can work together and use this cooking time to create many lasting memories. Things might get a little messy, but do not focus on the negative. No one will remember exactly what was on the menu or what everything looked like, but the time spent together will be cherished for years to come!