Let me be the first to admit that I have never felt that magical super-mom feeling when my kids help me in the kitchen. Sometimes it's just easier if I do it myself. I know that I'm supposed to teach them to measure and not cringe when they spill the flour. I know it's fun to stick your finger in the sugar and leave a sticky mess all over the countertop. Oh, and believe me, I know how much fun it is to crack open the eggs and dump everything in the bowl. Including the shell. However, tired, cranky moms aren't usually up for Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals in 3 hours when cooking with kids (not to mention the clean up!).
When the kids were younger, I would usually shoo them out of the kitchen. Poor little things. They wanted to help me, but I just wanted to hurry and get it done so I could rest. Hubby was the same way when he was in the kitchen. As the kids got a little older, I would allow them to pour in pre-measured ingredients, stir and lick the bowl. That's the best part! Don't email me about eating raw eggs. I'm not dead and I think I've eaten at least a dozen cake and brownie mixes by myself. YUM!
I'm quite sure I was in survival mode in those early years. Now that my baby is seven, I'm starting to relax a little more. A little more. I know I did myself, and my children, a huge disservice by not allowing them more responsibility and fun in the kitchen. Over the past couple years, I have given each of them some time with me in the kitchen. They love it and beg for it to be their turn. They even argue over who helped last. Recently, I've felt a strong pull to shift even more kitchen responsibility on their well-fed shoulders, so I came up with this.
As you can see, with seven of us, it works out PERFECTLY! Every day the kitchen will be cleaned and every week one person gets a Kitchen Duty break. I didn't even plan it that way, it just happened. I should also mention that this chart is only for our major meal together, dinner. With the kids in public school (lunch is rare at home) and them being old enough to put thier own dishes in the dishwasher, I figured this would be fine for now. Starting slow is always good.
I have always given my children responsibilities, just not in the kitchen unless it was cleaning. Now each of them will be assigned a day to help cook in the kitchen. I'm pretty sure they will find helping in the kitchen enjoyable. The cleaning part of it will not go over well, but maybe giving them the opportunity to make something (even search out recipes, menu plan and shop) will soften the blow.
I'm excited to have one child in the kitchen at a time (for now) and maybe later (as I become less anxious) we can prepare and cook as a family. I hear some of the best conversations happen in the kitchen. I can't wait!!