I’ve never been a big baker. Even though I’m not very good at it, I do appreciate the specific measurements needed. There is minimal room for error… and that’s my vibe. I aspire to be one of those moms who whips up fresh homemade cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning – but I know my reality – and it’s: “hey kids, fried eggs and sausage or Dunkin’ Donuts?” [this is also the conversation I have with myself on Sunday mornings… usually ends in a bagel.]
I try to make mealtime an important time, together time, but it takes time. To eventually cook full meals with my kids is the ultimate goal. So, I’m easing into it. What kid doesn’t love something sweet? It makes them feel rewarded and excited. For me, the reward is spending that time with them.
All it takes is 30 minutes with a box of cake mix. It gives us something to do together and to learn from. The pure joy my kids have when they get to dump ingredients in a bowl makes my heart melt. We pick a (simple) recipe and tackle it together. Lots of learning, lots of mess, lots of fun.
Lessons for us both
Baking and dealing with a toddler both require patience – but trying to teach a toddler to be patient is on a whole other level. I decided to start baking simple things with my son to teach us both a lesson. For me, it was not freaking out if flour was all over the counter and ten different spoons were used to mix one thing. For him, it was standing by the oven with his hands behind his back waiting for me to say it’s time to eat.
I believe in ‘everything in moderation’ when it comes to food, something my mom has passed on to me. Kids should enjoy junk food, fruit, sweets, and veggies. I was never limited to what I was allowed to eat growing up, but was always taught that a little of everything is alright. I never felt deprived of anything and never overindulged in certain foods. [our house was always the sleepover house because of our pantry, mom always had the good stuff (and still does)!]
Same goes for my kids, Cheetos [(brand placement is key – Cheetos please sponsor us)] are no issue as long as you have fruits for dessert. With baking, it’s not always the healthiest of options but we make it work. I’ll look for substitutes, but also explain why we switch things out: “all that sugar will keep you up past bedtime… and will drive mama insane!” [she’s not kidding, don’t go near this girl when she’s cranky.]
I’m usually not a fan of lots of sweets in the house… mostly because I know I’ll be the one to eat them. One big lesson we’ve been able to share with the kiddos is giving to others. So we bake for friends, neighbors, our doormen, or someone who may need a pick me up on the street. Teaching them the importance of doing something kind for others helps their hearts grow and prevents my pant size from growing too!
Planning makes perfect
It ain’t easy, can be fast, and will be messy. Mentally prepare. Here are some of the things we use each time to keep it fun and safe.
- Kids apron and knives – having their own materials brings them joy
- Kitchen helper stool – get them to counter height but keep them locked up
- Give them responsibilities
- Pouring, mixing, prepping, or “reading” the instructions are all good options. Everyone is old enough to have a job… (as Daniel Tiger says!) [you know you’re a mom when you’re quoting Daniel Tiger…]
- Time keeper – have them set a timer and manage it
- Most important job of them all = taste tester!
Enjoy your time together in the kitchen… you’re making food and memories!