For some grandparents it is common for kids to help in the kitchen. For others, special-occasion baking might be the extent of kids helping out. Here are some suggestions to get enthused about cooking and baking together.
Keep a sense of humour when you work with kids in the kitchen. Begin with talking about family food traditions. Children love to hear about what their parents did or didn’t like to eat as children.
Plan ahead and choose foods the kids can easily help make. Don’t choose the caramel recipe that is tricky to make. Choose with success in mind. Have them help make the grocery list and plan their role in the baking. Anticipation is part of the excitement.
Consider the ages of your grandchildren. Preschoolers have shorter attention spans and like instant results. Have them do simple things like rolling dough into balls, sprinkling decorations or stirring foods. Elementary-age kids are capable of more involved tasks. With supervision they can measure ingredients, use a mixer and help take things out of the oven. Older children can do the whole task with only minor supervision.
Structure the activity. Think ahead to the steps and have some of that planned out especially with the very young children.
Determine upfront how much mess you are willing to tolerate. This is the thing that may stop many grandparents from having their grandkids cook or bake. Children need to learn that cleanup is part of kitchen duty, so delegate accordingly. Grandparents should not be stuck with the entire cleanup job if it has been a family activity.
Encourage taking turns with tasks, or work with one child at a time if possible. Stay flexible and calm when something doesn’t work out. A child will pick up
clues on how you deal with less-than-perfect situations and will copy your actions. If the cutout cookies aren’t perfect, does it matter?
Cooking with grandchildren is really more about the experience than the end product. Something as simple as baking cookies together, and sharing them, can contribute to a child’s self-esteem. The finished product gives children proof of
their competence and accomplishments.
With a little planning and forethought, working in the kitchen may become something you do together regularly.