The first time I willingly let my kids destroy every square inch of my kitchen, er, I mean, bake independently, was done through gritted teeth. I was aware of every drop of water that hit the floor, every bit of powdery flour that was smeared on the cabinet. I stared intently at the grout between the tile floors, wondering if I would still be cleaning granulated sugar out of the crevices 6 months from then.

Instead of screaming”LOOK AT THE MESS YOU MADE!” I said (half-smile in place) “Oooh, that’s gonna be hard to get all that sugar off the floor.

Instead of “YOU GOT EGG SHELLS EVERYWHERE!” I said “Hmmm, our cookies might be crunchy (chuckle).

Momming isn’t easy. Hell, adulting isn’t easy most of the time. By letting my children make a small disaster mess in my kitchen, they actually LEARNED.


Messes are Ok… Cleaning up is necessary

All too often, we jump on kids when they make a mess. From spilt milk to dropped bread, we have to ask if our reaction justifies the action. By making a mess, you’re also allowing the child an opportunity to clean that mess. It’s important to learn that cleaning is a part of cooking. Take it all, or get out of the kitchen.

Baking is fun…And allows memories to be made

I remember loving cooking as a child. My mom let me bake right alongside of her. Even though my baking was mostly confined to pouring pre-measured cupfuls into large bowls, and licking everything in sight when she turned to get something from the fridge, I considered it cooking. While I was probably annoying my mother by making her recipe take three times as long, she was giving me the gift of happy memories. Surely I can muster the same such courage and carve out a block of time to let my children pretend I’m enjoying this as much as I am.

Age-Appropriate Independence

From toddlers to preschoolers, elementary aged kids to high schoolers, there is independence to be taught and learned. There is SO much to do in the kitchen! 

Toddlers can put muffin liners in pans, pour pre-measured items, and stir.

Preschoolers can measure out dry ingredients, crack eggs, flip pancakes (supervision, supervision!), and use the mixer. 

Once they get to elementary age, there is limitless possibility. Of course it should be monitored and explicitly taught, but my 2nd grader was making ME fried eggs for breakfasts, and helping with all of our fruit and veggie chopping. He loved it, and I loved the help. 

Long story, short: It is amazing what kids are capable of when given the right tools, supervision, and support. Show them you have confidence in them, and their confidence will follow. 

You Never Know… You Might Be Raising the Next Master Chef, Jr.

One true fact about every child is that there is limitless potential to who and what they can become. Embrace their interests now because you never know what kind of hidden talents are waiting to bust out. 

Photo Credit: Mojitos & Munchkins