I've written about children making their own food, getting children involved with chores from a young age, and I am absolutely adamant about making one meal for everyone, but I have a confession to make.
I really don't like cooking with my children. :( It makes me sad to say it because it seems like I should, but I don't. It's true. For years, I thought this had to do with the fact that I can be a bit of a germaphobe. It's true that children have the grubbiest hands, but those can be washed. Then I thought it was because cooking is inherently dangerous with the stove and knives and the like. I will say it definitely left an impression on me, when one year in my classroom, I had a four-year-old girl who had been burned in a cooking accident and was left scarred on her chest and neck for life! Boiling water had spilled onto her and with her turtleneck, the burn was so much worse than it would have been on bare skin. It absolutely makes me cringe to think about it. But, accidents happen, and of course we all take precautions and do our best.
No, the fact that I don't like cooking with my children has to do with something else. I realized last week, while J was off taking the kids on a walk with their scooters, that cooking is one of the few things I get to enjoy all alone since becoming a mom. Cooking for me is absolute bliss. I get into that flow zone when I'm cooking or baking and and I literally don't think about anything else. For someone who tends to be thinking a mile a minute and worrying needlessly, it is awesome to have all of my cares and worries actually cease to exist.
But, as Coco and Theo get older and more interested in what's happening in the kitchen, I don't want to exclude them entirely. I was thinking last night at dinner when Coco was whining and complaining that she didn't want to eat, and Theo was climbing on top of the table as toddlers do, that maybe we should have one or two nights where J feeds the kids leftovers or something simple and then does their bath and bed routine while I cook something more intricate just for us. That way, we can have a nice adult dinner together at least twice a week. On a few of the other nights, I could cook with the kids so that they feel involved in their meals and what they're eating. And the other nights, J could take them to the park or play in the yard while I cook alone. We have always eaten all together every night. But as they get older and their horizons expand, this could be a good change.
How do you involve your children in cooking and meal prep? I've heard really good things about this helping tower and these safety choppers were always a hit in the Montessori classroom. Do your kids set the table? Make food with you? Chop or sauté? I love getting into that flow state alone, but I'm ready to share my love of cooking with them, too! Tell me what's working for you in the comments below! Thanks. xo