Heart of the Home

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I was last in academia (oh so many years ago!), I was doing research on the role of the kitchen in 20th century American homes.  I studied the shifts in technology and design that led people to think of the kitchen as the “heart of the home” both literally (through the shift to open-plan designs) and metaphorically (food as love, maybe, or the kitchen goddess as the emblem of domestic life).  Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that I cook with my kids.

When they were babies (past the sleep-all-the-time phase and well into the I-want-Mommy-to-interact-ALL-the-time phase) I would bring their bouncy chairs to the kitchen, and perform a cooking show for them. I would tell them all about how I was Taking the Carrots out of the Fridge and then I was going to Peel them and Slice them and so on. It was exhausting, but it worked – I got stuff done, and the babies stayed entertained.

Now that they’re older, we sometimes cook together. Most times it’s simple tasks – sprinkling the cheese on the pizza before we put it in the oven, or taking turns pouring in ingredients, or stirring or mixing batter for cakes or quick breads.  In the summer, it’s smoothies.  The kids help plan what we’ll put in our smoothie, and love to turn the blender on or off.


Cooking together is one of the ways we’ve taught turn-taking. We’ll each stir the batter 5 times, for example, before passing it along to the next person.  It has reinforced the need for patience – both in waiting for your turn to mix, and in waiting for the food to cook.  And it’s helped broaden their palates – while they’re still fairly picky eaters, they’re more willing to try food that they’ve chosen themselves (tasting a new fruit at the farmer’s market this week, if not incorporating new vegetables into their repertoires) or helped prepare.

And if they make it, I’m less likely to hear “but I don’t want THAT for dinner” which is always a nice bonus!

 

How do you bring your kids into the kitchen? What are your favorite recipes to make with kids? (Many of my old kids-can-help standbys are out now that I’m eating gluten-free, so suggestions are welcome!)

 

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22 Responses to Heart of the Home

  1. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  2. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  3. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  4. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  5. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  6. Oh wow – you just brought back some memories I never would have recalled of narrating my cooking. Oh how I remember those days of Kieran on my back while I made dinner. As long as he was involved and I was entertaining, everything was good :) Thank you for sharing!!

  7. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  8. Isil says:

    I love you describe their phases :) My daughter loved being on my back and watching me cook, however my son is just a wriggly worm. He is getting there though. 19 months now and loves to stand in the learning tower next to me.I can’t wait to cook with him :)

    • Jona says:

      I always meant to get one of those towers, but never did! I love the way it brings the kids right up to the action!

  9. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  10. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  11. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  12. Terri says:

    We have similar posts in that the kitchen is also the heart of our home and creative hub. I like the example of your kids taking turns between stirring…my 22mo boy is yearning to join his sister up on a chair and get literally in the ‘mix’. But probably we can lower the bowl and get him to at least have a turn of stirring. I am really looking forward to when both of them can be actively involved!

    • Jona says:

      I love how much action is going on in your kitchen, too! It’ll be so fun when you can cook with both of them!

  13. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  14. [...] Heart of the Home — Jona at Life, Intertwined shares some highlights of cooking with kids. [...]

  15. Momma Jorje says:

    Sasha loves to hold the lid on the blender! And she likes to taste all the ingredients when I make my banana / peanut butter smoothies. It is so funny when she tries to bite the end of a frozen banana! :)

    Ever notice that the best parties also seem to congregate in the kitchen? I think it might (at least partially) be convenience. and maybe comfort? More food and drink are always available in the kitchen. And it is somehow an even more relaxed environment than a sitting room. I mean think, who worries about using coasters in the kitchen??

    • Jona says:

      Oooh, banana peanut butter smoothies sound yum! I sometimes make a blended coffee drink with peanut butter, but tend not to use it for the kids – they’re not PB fans. But they wouldn’t claim to be spinach fans, either, and they love my green smoothies, so I should probably give it a go!

  16. xela says:

    Isn’t it so true about them more willing to eat what they make! I have definitely noticed that with my picky 2 year old!!

    And thanks for the tip about teaching kids to take turns by letting them each stir a set number or times… my baby is just 2 months right now, but I’m sure she’s going to want her turn in the kitchen in another year or so :)

  17. Beautiful post! I love to include my daughter in all things kitchen related as I too believe that it is the heart of the home. She has so much fun dumping, stirring, and taste testing!

    I like how you model the idea of taking turns through cooking. What a great idea. It is easy and not a full out “in your face” method of encouraging taking turns. Great idea!

    Thank you for such a valuable post!

  18. Fantastic. I love cooking with DD too but I’d never really realised just HOW educational it was – the part about patience and turn taking really struck a chord with me.