Today, let’s hop into the kitchen and talk about how to manage the chaos of cooking with kids. I think we’ve all been there – the spills and messes – oh my! Here are some of the ways I keep things a bit more tidy when cooking with kids.
Cooking with kids… magical or chaotic? 100% both. Especially with more than one kid in the mix. I absolutely love having my kids join me in the kitchen. But let’s be real for a second, mmkay? It can be chaotic. Like pure chaos if things aren’t managed well.
Have they spilled a box of cocoa powder all over the floor? Yes. Eggs fall off the counter? Yes. Rice EVERYWHERE. Yes.
I’ve been in the mismanaged, chaotic and stressed state many times. MANY TIMES. So instead of feeling like that, I put in some key strategies to keep the kitchen time fun, productive and a happy place for all of us. Because that’s what we’re looking for when the kiddos join me in the kitchen!
How to manage the chaos of cooking with kids
Use carriers and high chairs
This is the biggest tip I have to share as a mom to 4 kids. It is rare that I am alone one on one with a kid (unless I am intentionally trying to), so in this scenario we are assuming it’s me and all the kiddos and everyone wants to help. This is where carriers for the littlest one comes in handy (love my ring sling and ergo the most) and a highchair (or booster seat) brought into the kitchen can help too. One or two kids can be managed that way, while still getting to engage with everyone. From there, I doll out tasks.
Have kid appropriate heights
Kitchen counters make it tricky for little legs and arms to reach. We bring the stool in or a chair so they can reach and help. I know many people love their kitchen tower step stool as well! Having kids at the right height keeps them safe too so they can see what they’re doing, and they won’t be blindly reaching all over the counter.
Allow only one kid to help at a time
Okay, so in my first tip I shared that I rarely have one on one kiddo time the kitchen, but there are ways I can make it happen. It can happen most easily when my husband is home, and I’ll call one of them in to help, and rotate through the kiddos for different tasks so they all get some individualized kitchen time. It’s a fun way to keep them on task and not be distracted by their siblings.
Give them something to do
At times, I just need to get dinner done, but kids want to be with me. That’s when I assign tasks. Sometimes it’s shredding kale or lettuce, other times it’s organizing the measuring cup and utensil drawer. I find little tasks all around the kitchen they can help with (discarding cut veggie ends, bringing plates to the table, etc) and it keeps them preoccupied while still being with me.
Have a clean starting space
Imagine a kitchen that’s cluttered, dirty and lacking in work space? Then add kids into that mix…. yikes! That alone feels like too much. Try clearing the counters, giving them a quick wipe and then bring the kids in. Heck, make them help clean it up before they help you around the kitchen!
Before Holland was born Hunter, Zoe, Nova and I did a few cooking video. They’re managed chaos for sure – check out em out for some great recipes and kiddo entertainment!
- Curried jicama sardine salad
- Kale chips
- Peanut butter coconut no bake oat bars
- 3 ingredient egg muffins
Looking for more on cooking with kids? Check out episode #33 of Fit Mama Real Food Radio on bringing kids into the kitchen!
Is cooking with kids magical or chaotic for you? How do you keep the chaos managed with kiddos in the kitchen?
PS: Those snack balls Nova and I are rolling out are coming to the blog this week!