A word to families with younger kids. If you're anything like me, you'd really rather they NOT make a mess in your kitchen. I will admit that cooking with the my kids stressed me out in ways I didn't know were possible. I knew it was a good thing to do, and I knew it was the homeschool mom thing to do. But I still hated it. So I compromised a little bit.
When my children were wee, I focused on kitchen safety. I taught them how to properly mix, measure, cut and handle the stove and oven. I taught them how to follow a recipe (and subsequently ignore it completely!) And then I left the kitchen. Turns out, what was stressing me was watching the process and fighting the urge to take over.
When it was time for them to play in the kitchen I would step out and let them go to it. I was always nearby for questions and to step in if there was any kind of emergency. Pretty much, I was a security blanket. As you would expect, they regularly destroyed my kitchen. And then they learned how to clean it up. They made some fantastic disasters along the way. They made amazing discoveries. They learned how to cook!
When my oldest got old enough to babysit, they would always make something adventurous while we were gone. The girls still do this with the kids they now babysit. Sometime I must get and share the recipe for Sugar Delight. Helpful menu item if you were hoping to go into a diabetic coma.
Fast forward to the current day. My kids are now 19, 17 and 15. My oldest is going to college and preparing to get married, my middle is graduated and trying to find work so he can afford to go to college. My youngest is working, working, working and seeing what amazing thing she'll tackle next. (Have to throw my daughter's fiancé in the mix, because while I didn't raise him, he's family and cooks just as much as everyone else around here does.;o)
In addition to continuing to homeschool our youngest, I work part time at the library and battle daily health issues. Sometimes life is great, and I can do it all. Sometimes not, but still everyone needs to eat! As I was hobbling through the grocery store this weekend, I knew that I probably had another difficult week ahead of me, pain wise. So I shopped with that in mind, and basically just stocked the kitchen with enough meat, veggies and fruits and work with and hoped for the best.
When I got home from a late doctor's appointment last night, I was hurting, but what a sight to come home to. Everyone had gotten home from work/school and gotten started on dinner. They were on the porch grilling, and it smelled wonderful. They had raided the kitchen and come up with fresh grilled burgers served with whole wheat bread, fresh grilled pineapple, sautéed mushrooms and onions, some romaine and for the brave, guacamole. Wonderful meal!!
It really pays to have kids that aren't afraid of the kitchen, and who don't see food as magically appearing on the table.
Whatever your 'Kid in the Kitchen' time looks like, make it happen. It will benefit everyone, and with any luck they won't move out and eat nothing but microwaved frozen dinners.