KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
My top 5 tips to getting little hands involved!
Baking with littlies is one of my absolute favourite things to do – not only just because I get to indulge in a spot of baking, but because I love to share my passion for it with others, especially very tiny handed others!
I have learnt many things over the years of baking with Sway and so I thought I would share my top 5 lessons learned/tips to make your experiences in the kitchen as enjoyable as possible. This ensures you are able to nurture, encourage and most importantly, have fun baking!
Parties aside though, sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down after a long day (or a long morning for us mums!) and enjoying something totally decadent, filled with totally necessary calories and a cup of strong coffee. And, as you might be able to see, I couldn’t even wait for mine to set before I dived right in… I blame my dessert addiction...
First and foremost, make sure you're up for it!
This may sound very obvious, I know, but the amount of times I have gone into baking with very little energy, without my morning coffee, grumpy or any number of other things that hinder my ability to fully give myself to the experience, has almost always ended in a not so pleasant experience. I know I have often been so tired that when stuff starts to splatter everywhere other than in the bowl, so does my excitement to be in the kitchen and I soon want the whole process to be over - and as a lover of baking, it takes a lot to get me to that point!
If it just isn’t the day for you to want to clean up mess, don’t do it. If you are too tired, mamas, don’t do it. Remember, it’s a big ordeal for us mamas, there’s prep even with the easiest recipes and there’s always clean up – although some are easier than others. The last thing we want is to encourage an experience only to end up frustrated with both it and our child when they are often doing their best (little hands can only do so much!). So, my number one piece of advice is to go into the kitchen feeling ready and raring to tackle a baking project with all the patients you can muster!
2. Preparation is key!
There is nothing better than enhancing yours and your kiddies baking experiences than being prepared physically (and emotionally hah!) with all of your ingredients, equipment and recipes. Depending on how old your kids are, this process can vary in how big your prep needs to be, but as a general rule I always like to be prepared to some extent.
With Sway being 4 now and enjoying the process of collecting and measuring ingredients, I just like to have the spoons, bowls and equipment out before pulling her stool up to the bench. We then wander around and collect our ingredients from the cupboards, measure and bake! With younger children you could already have everything out, weighed/measured and simply have them help pour and mix with you. For older children it may be a case of getting them to help you collect everything, pick a recipe and start! Whatever preparation looks like for you, make sure you think ahead! This helps eliminate any unnecessary stress. If I’m having a particularly tired day but still want to bake, I’ll often measure things myself before calling Sway over – remember mamas, it’s all about making it fun, so only do what you have the time and energy for!
3. Have fun and don’t be afraid to get messy – it will happen!
Mama’s, those little hands are going to be into every ingredient, tasting more of the batter than they should, mixing over the edges and making clean fingers a thing of the past! Kids are made to make a mess and this is all part of the fun and learning experience! I know in my baking life that mess is inevitable, but I also know how much I LOVE a clean kitchen – two things that often fight each other.
So, when I approach a baking day with Sway, I often put my kitchen feelings completely aside and embrace the fact that mess is going to happen. This makes it a lot more fun for me and for her – she doesn’t feel too restricted to not splash the milk out of the bowl or over pour the flour, but it gives her a space to be independent and explore new textures, flavours and methods of baking madness. So, as part of my third tip, make sure you get involved in the messy fun too! Dig your hands in the cookie dough, give the beater a big lick and let your inner child run wild with your little child!
4. Make it easy, on you and them and expect imperfections.
I have often thought I could attempt big recipes with Sway, for example if I have recipe testing to do, I figure she might as well try it with me… Well, needless to say, when everything needs to be exact and a recipe needs to look picture perfect, this is already going to be a recipe for disaster (pun intended) with a little one – and by no fault of their own of course. They are little and us mamas can’t expect perfection when their idea of perfect is another cup of chocolate chips and blue food colouring! But, as you can imagine, a batch of uneven, cracked cookies or a deflated chocolate cake isn’t ideal for a fancy dinner party (yes, this has happened).
So, my advice when baking with children is to make sure you keep your recipes simple, easy and expect (perfect) imperfections! Pre-read the recipe and make sure the process isn’t too lengthy, too difficult to execute or requires too many ingredients. This will help keep you sane and the kids interested in sticking around to see the end result!
5. Be patient.
Last but certainly not least, be patient. I cannot stress this tip enough, only because I have experienced the outcomes of losing mine and how discouraged you can become. After years of baking with a bub, I know firsthand how important it is to go slowly with them, talk them through every step, watch them stir it 5, 10, 15, 3500 times before adding the next ingredient! It’s all about encouraging and allowing them to take control in a controlled environment. Don’t lose hope if your first baking attempts fail – heck, don’t be discouraged if your first 10 attempts fail, the beauty is in the experience, not always the outcome. A proud babe with a batch of deflated, rock hard cupcakes is still a big win in my eyes! So let go a little, and persevere – it’s so worth it!
So there you have it! My top 5 tips on baking with kids in the kitchen. Now, I hope you feel a little bit more prepared to jump on in and start your baking journey! Be assured you will not be the first mama to get frustrated or want to throw a bowl of batter on the floor – but hang in there, because if you do, you will see how beautiful the memories you can make are – I will forever cherish mine! If you still need a little more encouragement or have any questions you know where I am!