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Kids in the Kitchen, Joy or No Joy?
Posted By Jessica Fisher On December 18, 2008 @ 12:03 pm In Family Fun,Meal Planning | 7 Comments
So, as I think of ways to honor her, I’m particularly pleased to have today’s guest post, written by Jenna from Food with Kid Appeal . She offers some great suggestions for including your children in your kitchen tasks. And since the Holidays are a great time to invite the kids into the kitchen, I’m sure her ideas will be a great help to you in the coming days.
Even though a good chunk of my happiest memories with big boo  and little boo  involve eating food and preparing it — and my kids are welcome to help me in the kitchen whenever they want — I have to admit that there are times I wish they were off building Lego towers and not on their kitchen stools next to me.
They are, after all, just 2 and 4 and while big boo has improved a lot at getting most of the flour into the mixing bowl from the measuring cup, a fair amount always dusts the counter top, drawers, stool, and floor. Little Boo has probably cracked just as many eggs on the floor as he has in the mixing bowl. Then there’s what big boo does to entertain himself while I’m helping little boo with his turn measuring spices. Bang, pound, smash! (Sound effects of spoon on a near-by kitchen appliance.) The worst is when they fight over whose turn it is to dump or stir, or who gets the tall stool.
Help or hinderance?
When their help turns into a hinderance, I just remind them that Mama is busy in the kitchen with her eye on hot pans, sharp knives and measuring cups. They can only be in the kitchen with me if they are helpers. If they fight or play with dry ingredients, I ask them to leave. Sometimes the fighting is a sign they are bored with kitchen help and off they go to play. Other times they refocus on cooking.
Food is one of the best ways to connect with family. Since it combines the senses of taste and smell (and touch if you are involved in preparing food) these memories often get seared in our brain and stay with us for a lifetime. Sweet memories of my grandma emerge every time I make her cornbread recipe . I get lonely for my mom when we bake the family Christmas cookie recipes. I often find myself telling stories to the boys about their grandmas, one who is no longer living, and the other who lives far away. It’s a great way to connect the boys with the history of our family. Another bonus is that kids who help with food preparation are more likely to eat the things they create.
Whether you work outside the home and have to race home from work and childcare to get a square meal on the table, or you’ve been at home, toting toddlers and refereeing sibling rivalry all day, by the time the dinner bell rings, it’s often hard to get inspired about working in the kitchen to feed the family. I like to think of this part of the day as a relaxing way to spend time with the family.
I think once our mind-set of dinner time changes from being a burden at the end of the day to being an experience that nurtures our growing families, the work aspect of it becomes easier to manage. I enjoy the opportunity to slow down and see the wonderful colors nature makes in fruits and veggies, to smell garlic and onions coming together to add flavor to the meat of the night, and to share many taste tests with the boys.
Not used to working in the kitchen with kids? Here’s a place to get started.
Jenna blogs about feeding the family healthy food at Food with Kid Appeal . She can help the parents of even the pickiest eaters to get their kids eating more food that will grow strong bodies and big brains. Parents of healthy eaters will find lots of kid friendly and mom tested recipes on her blog.
What’s your vote? Joy or No Joy when kids are in the kitchen? Let us know why.
Related: Ready to Let Them Crack Their First Egg? 
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 My mother-in-law: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2008/12/treasure-each-one.html
 Food with Kid Appeal: http://foodwithkidappeal.com/
 big boo: http://www.foodwithkidappeal.com/aboutMe.htm#familyabout
 cornbread recipe: http://foodwithkidappeal.blogspot.com/2008/11/cornbread-my-grandmas-recipe.html
 nuts: http://foodwithkidappeal.blogspot.com/2008/11/snack-nuts.html
 pomegranate: http://foodwithkidappeal.blogspot.com/2008/11/pomegranate-faces.html
 Ready to Let Them Crack Their First Egg?: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2008/08/ready-to-let-them-crack-their-first-egg.html
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