• Why I Don’t Like To Cook With My Toddler

    I love to cook and spending time in the kitchen is relaxing for me. I spend about an hour making dinner most nights and I really enjoy that quiet time in my bright yellow kitchen. There’s something therapeutic about cracking eggs, mixing up casseroles, and rolling meatballs by hand. During this time, my husband occupies our son. I’ve been reading about how much more likely kids are to eat their vegetables if they are involved in the preparation. Still, I just can’t bring myself to let him help in the kitchen on a regular basis. 

    I know some people have strict rules about keeping their kiddos out of the kitchen and I totally get it. The kitchen can be dangerous for little ones. For instance, any time you’re cooking with grease or using knives, it’s probably a good idea to put up the baby gates. But what if you’re just mixing cookie dough? I usually don’t block off the kitchen if there’s nothing dangerous involved.  Besides, the memories rock! I still smile when I think about the first time we made chocolate chip cookies and he tried to eat half the batter before I could get it to the pan.

    Letting a toddler run through the kitchen while you’re cooking is a lot different than letting him help. I’m just not patient enough most of the time. Occasionally, I let him help me make cookies or mix brownie batter. I can usually convince myself that the memories are worth the mess. 

    Boy can he make a mess! I love cooking, but I don’t love cleaning. Cleaning pasta sauce off my white cabinets doesn’t make my fun list. At Christmas time and on other special occasions I let him help me make something simple, for the memories, but it’s never anything involved. Cutest thing we ever made together? Meringue Christmas trees! I piped them onto parchment paper with an icing bag and he decorated them with peppermint sprinkles. In the end, the trees were all a little lopsided and I spent the better part of a week finding sprinkles behind my kitchen appliances. I’ll probably do it again next year. It was worth it. 

    Maybe the mess is just my excuse. I think the real reason I don’t let him help in the kitchen on a regular basis is because the kitchen is my space. Cooking dinner for my family is my quiet time, when I recharge my batteries and relieve stress. I don’t even like to let my husband help with dinner. He’s a little messy too. I usually tell him he can’t help because he doesn’t follow the recipe. The truth is just that it’s my time and my space and I need that. Maybe my son won’t ever have enough cooking experience to appear on Master Chef Junior, but at least he’ll have a few memories of making cookies with me. My sanity is totally worth that. 

    Is the kitchen your sanctuary too? Do you let your kids help in the kitchen? What about your husband?

    Written by: Sara Parise

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