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When you look at your friends’ posts on Facebook or Instagram, do you sometimes feel that they’ve taken a little artistic license? By which I mean, you know those “I just baked two dozen cupcakes with my kids” posts? How often do you think the parent really did bake with full assistance from their kids?
On the other hand, how often did they do all the baking themselves and then dab some frosting on their child’s nose for the photo? It’s not a huge gripe, but it’s about the difference between doing something with your kids for the experience, and doing it for the Likes. Hey, we all like social media engagement – but does it miss the point to do it this way?
There is never a bad time to get your kids interested in cooking. Although you should probably wait until their teens before having them help with a barbecue, for safety’s sake. One great time to get them interested is when you want to treat your significant other. What’s better than a three-course meal? A three-course meal made with love and attention by the people you love most, of course!
How Do You Make It Work?
The great thing about cooking as a team is that it doesn’t limit you in what you can do. You can be straight down the line, with simple, hearty food for each course and everyone will know what they’re doing. You can also get a lot more adventurous, slicing and dicing with the best of them. Your youngest child doesn’t need to know how to operate a mandolin – they just need to count carrots.
Control The Chaos
One thing that kids enjoy about cooking – whether it be spaghetti and meatballs for the main, or delicious cakes for dessert – is the mess. Although the old saying goes “many hands make light work”, it’s not always accurate.
For all that you have a few helpers, it can take longer than it would if you did it all alone. Why? Because you know to clean up as you go along. Your kids, meanwhile, may well touch everything within reach with ground beef on their hands. So get a system going to make sure the mess doesn’t mount up. Elect your eldest as the sous-chef, making sure things are kept in order.
Let Them Learn By Doing
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A special meal – for a birthday, Mother’s Day or just to spoil someone special – is a chance to teach a few things. Your kids can learn kitchen safety, economics, math and a few more things besides. If you have an eldest child who isn’t far from college age, the versatility they’ll learn in the process will serve them well when they live on campus.
One lesson you’re never too old or too young to learn, for example… If you’re chopping onions or chilis, or handling ones that have been chopped, always wash your hands before doing anything else. That’s a lesson you don’t want your kids to learn the hard way!