Cooking with kids

"Don't Touch That!" and Other Safety Tips For Kids In The Kitchen

The idea of having the kids work side by side with you in the kitchen can seem almost dreamy until you find yourself screaming things like:

"Don't touch that!" 

"Put that down!" 

"You are going to lose a finger!" 

Next thing you know, you are frustrated, nobody is having any fun and you end up chasing everyone out of the kitchen because it will be that much easier to just do it yourself. (I have been there.) 

But that isn't what we really want to happen. 

We want our kids in the kitchen. We want them hands on with food and kitchen tools. We want them creating snacks and meals they can be excited about.

Let's take a minute to remember what our kids get out of cooking healthy meals in the kitchen with us. 

  • Kids become more familiar with healthy foods and are more likely to try a wider variety of food when they are involved in cooking. 
  • Kids pick up good practices you model and learn skills they will keep for a lifetime.
  • Kids start to associate cooking as a positive experience (if we are doing it right).
  • Kids learn to appreciate the time and energy that goes into food preparation.
  • The family can enjoy quality time together, having a chance to talk and bond. 

In order to get kids experiencing all of the good that comes out of being in the kitchen and make the occasions positive and memorable experiences for everyone, just keep in mind some simple safety rules that keep everyone safe and the kitchen running smoothly. 

 

Kitchen Safety Check for the Grown Ups:

  1. Put all tech devices, other than any being used to display a recipe, far, far away. Distractions in the kitchen can be dangerous. Besides, you have some awesome family time happening. Don't miss it by checking emails. 
  2. Make sure all appliances not being used are unplugged and out of the way.
  3. Unplug any appliances that will be used for cooking. (I only plug them in when we are ready to use them and I am there.) They should only be used with your supervision. 
  4. Be accountable for all sharp items including knives and peelers, etc. Know what is in reach of the children. Remove anything not needed for the current recipe.
  5. Take special precautions if the oven or stove are in use. (I like to place myself between the stove and the kids. If they are helping me at the stove, they have my full attention so as to keep them safe.) 
  6. Turn all pot and pan handles INTO the stove. Handles hanging over the edge can be grabbed, bumped and spilled. 
  7. Clear away any clutter or items not necessary for cooking.

Before inviting kids to join you in the kitchen, step back and take a good look at the cooking environment. Ensure that it is clutter free, clean, and set up with only the necessary tools and kitchen items. Consider setting up the kitchen with work stations prior to children joining you. I share some useful tips for this in Healthy Kids Thrive in the Kitchen (3 Ways to Get You Started)

 

Kitchen Safety Rules for the Mini Chefs:

  1. Wash hands, pull back hair and put on aprons BEFORE getting started.
  2. Work at your assigned station. 
  3. If you spill, clean it up.
  4. Ask questions when you are unsure or curious.
  5. Have a grown up's help when using knives or sharp objects. 
  6. Use the stove with a grown up.
  7. Only sample with permission. (Raw ingredients can be dangerous.) 
  8. Have fun and enjoy the delicious food you create!  

If you want the rules you set with the children to be extra effective, take a few minutes to create those rules TOGETHER when age appropriate. You can use this list as a guide for things you might want to cover.

Grab a piece of paper, a dry erase board, anything. Sit together and brainstorm some ways that you all think would keep everyone safe when you cook together. Write everything down and then post your collaborative list somewhere visible once you begin. Refer to it whenever you need to. 

Each of these lists could have been doubled or tripled in length, but I wanted to give you the enough basics to get started. Even still,  think about what additional considerations you might need based on your own kitchen set up, the recipe and the age of your children. 

It is funny how a few simple rules and considerations can make the kitchen adventures run smoothly and can ensure a lot of fun and learning for everyone. I hope that you can use some of the safety rules here and maybe some more of your own, as a foundation that allows you to make some great memories with your little chefs. 

If you are ready for more awesome ideas, accountability and support, I have 2 fantastic options for you (and you can take them BOTH!) 1. Join The Real Moms's Collaborative Facebook group. This is a brand new group and already a beautiful community of moms building a healthier life for themselves and their families one step at a time. And 2. sign up for my newsletter and get a FREE COPY of BE A HEALTHIER MOM IN 30 DAYS! (That is a little BONUS from me to you!) You will get tips, advice and support right in your inbox. 

Thank you for reading! Until next time! 

 

Healthy Kids Thrive In the Kitchen (Here Are 3 Ways to Get You Started!)

Do you remember the kitchen from your childhood? Do you remember how it was the heart and soul of the home? 

Not only did all the meals get created there and many meals get eaten there, but that is where major decisions were made, "heart to heart" conversations were had and where visitors might have been greeted. 

Today, in my own kitchen, it isn't much different. The same important things are happening there. The kitchen is also where homework gets done, art projects get praised, and blogs get written. (You and I are having this chat in my kitchen right now.) And very importantly, it is where lifelong lessons about food and nutrition are taught and learned.

As parents, raising healthy kids is a top priority for all of us. We don't want it to be a temporary thing either. My personal mission is to raise lifelong healthy eaters. I try to move beyond the idea of "eat what is on your plate because I said so" and try to develop a basic, kid-friendly understanding of the importance of healthy eating. I believe that the more we talk about nutrients, the importance of "eating the rainbow", why real food is more beneficial for our bodies and minds than processed food, as well as other things, the more likely my kids become flourishing, healthy kids now and flourishing, healthy adults in the future.

One of the best places to help healthy kids thrive in the way I am describing is in the kitchen. Bring them right into the heart and soul of the house! Let them watch, let them observe, let them question. 

And then let them cook. 

Kids of all ages can be hands on with food prep to some degree. It just takes a little planning, maybe a little preparation before you invite them in to join you, but it can be totally manageable. This is a rich learning experience for them and we should try to do this as often as we can. 

Besides... it is FUN! If you are doing it right, you will share lots of laughs, good conversation and great quality time together. I am going to help you do that.

Before you jump up and call everyone into the kitchen, I want to share some things you should think about FIRST. 

Let's get those kids into the kitchen!

Here are 3 ways to help get you started:

  1. Set Up Beforehand

You don't have to necessarily do much, but taking a few minutes to set up a few things means that you can focus on the kids and the food more instead of details that can be taken care of beforehand. 

How much of this you do really depends on the ages of your children and their familiarity with the kitchen. With younger children you may take out all the ingredients and tools, have everything already measured and ready to be poured into a bowl for mixing. With older kids or kids more familiar in the kitchen, they may take out the ingredients as you read them or they read them off, they may do their own measuring, and so on. 

No matter how much or how little you do, there is always something to do beforehand. Some additional things may include:

  • Taking out extra dish- or paper towels in case of spills.
  • Clearing off the cooking area, including the sink and oven if necessary.
  • Deciding on a recipe.
  • Setting out all the kitchen tools required.
  • Taking ingredients out of the pantry and refrigerator.

2. Create work stations and set up some rules

The last thing we want is kids running into the kitchen, pushing for a first chance to use the peeler and having a screaming match break out. When my kids come into the kitchen, everyone has an assigned spot and job to begin with. We may rotate. We may not. But it is very clear as to who is going where right from the beginning. 

Rule are important, too. The kitchen can be a dangerous place without rules. So we establish some right from the beginning, then change or add to the list as need arises.

Some rules you might include are:

  • Wash your hands before and after cooking.
  • Tie your hair back.
  • Use your apron.
  • Never touch the stove, it might be on.
  • Ask before adding an ingredient.
  • Only use the stove or a knife when Momma is with you.

Use rules that make sense for your kids and kitchen. 

3. Relax and have FUN

If you can accept that messes will be make, shells might make it into the dish and an ingredient might be accidentally left out, then you have the right frame of mind to relax and enjoy the experience with your kids. The most important thing is not that the final product turns out perfect. The much more important thing is that kids are having a rich, hands on experience in the kitchen with YOU. What they learn will stay with them for a long time. They are more likely to connect healthy food and healthy eating with warm, positive feelings by the opportunities you give them to be hands on in the kitchen. So relax, smile, laugh off the "oopsies" and "uh oh's" and have FUN! 

 

All month long in the exclusive membership site, The Real Moms' Inner Circle, there are many more ideas around the theme of KIDS IN THE KITCHEN. We have informative videos, recipes, strategies for even the busiest moms and weekly healthy challenges to keep you on track!

If you need some new ideas and a little accountability, check out the Real Moms Inner Circle TODAY! 


Thank you for reading. If you are feeling inspired to head into the kitchen with your kiddos, enjoy and have fun! And don't forget to tell us about it! Post about your kitchen adventure or ask any questions right here on the Real Moms, Real Health Facebook page

 

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