What’s that you say? Make an extreme mess with toddlers in the kitchen? The one who flings things everywhere and thinks it’s high class good times to blow chocolate milk out of their nose?
In a word: YES.
However much of a pain the butt it may be, creating things with your little ones is simply one of the best ways in which we can parent and spend time with our children. In my humble opinion. Toddlers love touching and discovering new textures. They really love to learn new skills – especially if it involves doing the everyday stuff that they watch you do.
They want to be all up in that business. Which, since I love to cook and bake…it’s not a far stretch to imagine that I’d suck up the mess and get into some baking with my little ones.
For however much I preach about the benefits of getting creative with young children, (whether be in baking, cooking or crafting), I cannot deny that there is a rather winning formula. A method to the madness if you will, that facilitates for less mess and stress; more fun and sensory play…
1. Say Good-bye To Perfectionism
An egg (or two, or three), WILL get dropped on the floor. Get over that. Milk shall spill. Flour will get everywhere. Expect to mop the floor after. Nothing will be picture perfect, so forget those visions of fancy royal icing cookie creations dancing in your head.
2. Timing Is Everything
Don’t start a recipe when your toddler is tired or hungry. This might go without saying, but it was worth reinstating. You also don’t want them bouncing off the walls either. Choose that magical time after a session at the park and a snack, for example – and wrap their cute little bodies up in an apron.
3. Prep Your Ingredients Beforehand
I never invite my little ones on the scene before prepping all that I can ahead of time. All tools of trade are out, as well as ingredients. Anything that I can do to make things flow better (like measuring), without actually doing the whole thing myself, I will.
4. Go With The Flow & Play It Safe
You don’t have to be so stringent as to have assigned tasks, but you can try and keep the potential for fight breakouts between siblings to minimum by putting one toddler on dry ingredients and another on the wet. This never lasts but it’s a good way to begin the process. Always keep the unsafe tools out of reach and practice/teach safety regarding the use of the oven and other culinary tools you might be using. Use non-breakable bowls and measuring cups. Let them taste test as they go and if you have really young toddlers in the mix, have play food and extra bowls on hand that they can just go nuts with. And by nuts, I mean nuts. You drew a bath beforehand to dump them in, right? Good.
5. Savour & Congratulate!
Let them eat, eat and eat some more. High fives all over the place.