I once thought patience came naturally to me. That was about four and a half years and three kids ago. Since then the true nature of my humanity has been brought to light…many times. I have always found peace and enjoyment in cooking. I love experimenting, creating, and learning about new foods. It can be difficult when, as a mother, what you enjoy doing does not fit easily into the flow of a day with little ones. I mean, I have to feed them, but taking time to browse the produce section, peruse a few recipes, and let the magic happen doesn’t seem to work the same way when I’m trying to keep three kids from licking the pile of mangos at the grocery store.
My oldest two are twins. I remember prepping most of our meals with one hand when they were smaller. The twins have always been busy kids. They are active and excited most of the time. My once peaceful activity of cooking looked quite different as soon as they leaped up onto the counter. My gut reaction was not patience. A big ball of stress would form in my belly as I watched them scoop flour, spilling half of it onto themselves and the floor. I found my patience would nearly disappear as I tried to direct the stirring, pouring, and scooping. I wanted to have fun, I really did. But the activity was overwhelming. I wanted a clean kitchen and nice pancakes, they wanted to know what an egg yoke felt like.
Cooking is my hobby, and I knew my kids needed to be part of it. I wanted them to experience the satisfaction of creating a healthy meal from scratch, to have ownership over their food. I needed to change the way I looked at cooking with them.
My first step was granola. I asked the twins if they would each like to make their own batch of granola. They were so excited and immediately began giving me some very…creative ideas. I helped them make a “base” so that the end result would at least resemble granola. They each started with oats, honey, and coconut oil and went from there. We ended up with a chocolate marshmallow granola and a double raison granola. We had so much fun and you wouldn’t believe how excited they were to tell everyone about the recipes they created! I decided then that I would make every effort to enjoy cooking with my kids. Yes, I do get a little overwhelmed at times when the baby is trying to be helpful or milk is spilling into the cabinet drawers, but I’ve learned to embrace it all and just have fun.
Here are a few of my tips for learning to enjoy cooking with kids:
- Invite them to help you before they ask.
This small step puts my attitude in the right place about what is about to happen. Rather than them asking to come into what I’m doing myself, I’m inviting them to be part of it. This makes a big difference for me!
2. Intentionally choose recipes throughout the week that are ideal for the ages of your kids.
Be sure you are setting your kids, and yourself, up for success. Choose recipes where your kids can actually be helpful! In my experience with toddlers, the more pouring and stirring the better. The twins just learned to crack eggs and that is now their favorite way to help!
3. Make it a learning opportunity.
Talk to your kids about why you are choosing certain foods. Why are they good for us to eat? Or, if it’s a not so healthy recipe (those are ok too!), try to connect it to when you were a kid or to a memory you have. We all have memories around food and it is a fun way to share some stories together.
4. Let them create.
Granola is our go-to creativity food. Find some “base” recipes to start with and let your kids go nuts! One of our other favorites is building mini pizzas! They have so much more fun with a little freedom to experiment.
5. Expect mess.
This might seem obvious, but it must be said. They will make a mess. Sometimes it will be much worse than you even anticipated. Let your kids’ memories of cooking with you be about the smell of the cookies baking, the feel of the bread dough, NOT mom’s crabby attitude. :)
I hope you have fun cooking with your kids this week! I’d love to hear what you decide to make together! We made some bagels for dinner last night. We sure had some funny shapes, but the kids loved helping out! The recipe is below!
2 hours, makes 16 small bagels
1 1/2 T yeast
2 c all-purpose or bread flour
2 c spelt flour
3 T coconut sugar or regular sugar
1 T salt
1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix and then knead until smooth.
2. Cover and let rise in warm place for 15 minutes.
3. Cut into 16 pieces and shape into bagels. Cover and let rise for another 20 min. I usually sprinkle some flour on a cutting board and let them rise there.
4. Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil. Carefully place the bagels in, about 4 at a time, and let boil for 7 minutes, turning once.
5. Heat oven to 375.
6. Place bagels on greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until just starting to brown on top.
*This recipe has been modified from...something. It was handwritten in my recipe book a long time ago. I have changed a few things, but I'm not sure of the original source!