Have your kids ever wanted to help in the kitchen but all you could think about was what a mess it was going to make? Because, let’s be honest...kids are SO messy to bake with! I mean, kids are just messy in general. They’re yummy and amazing and the highlight of our lives, of course, but goodness are they messy!
When it comes to helping in the kitchen they want to do every little thing, and sometimes instead of making the fun memories you had hoped for, you find yourself just plain old losing your mind or your patience…possibly both.
Then, after it’s all over and the day is said and done, you tuck your kiddos into bed and the mom guilt starts creeping in. “I should have been more patient. Maxine posts videos of baking with her kids all the time and they always look like they’re having fun. Why is Maxine such a good mom? I bet she never has to say ‘no’ to her kids. Why am I always saying ‘no’ to my kids? I need to try hard to be a ‘yes’ mom.” Tomorrow I’m going to be a ‘yes’ mom!
Trust me, I’ve been there so many times. I was probably there today if I’m being honest, haha.
Kids love cracking eggs.
When my twins were three years old, they discovered eggs. Not the eating of eggs, mind you, they weren’t interested in eating them. No, they discovered the joy of cracking eggs. It didn’t matter where the eggs were in the refrigerator, they would find them. It didn’t make a difference if I was out of the room only long enough to run to the restroom or brush my teeth- those little stinkers would get into the fridge, pull out the eggs, and crack every single one of them on the floor!
And I realized that cracked eggs sliding around on the floor are so gross.
Now, I’m sure it was a wonderful, sensory experience for them, but my goodness those messes were exhausting! Those sweet, wild boys were the CHAMPIONS of mess-makers! I know you’re probably wondering why I just didn’t hide the eggs better. I’m telling you, they were so hidden. My toddlers were just magicians. And so fast. And there were two of them! Still are, haha.
They just wanted to be involved in what I was doing.
Fortunately, as they grew and as I started thinking outside the box, I realized that they just wanted to be involved in the kitchen. Through alot of messes I began finding ways for them to be a part of the baking process without the chaos that we experienced when they were little. Our time in the kitchen became a special, bonding time that I was able to look forward to rather than just feeling like it was a chore or something a mom was supposed to do.
As we began baking more and more together, I learned several tips and tricks to make our time together in the kitchen be as stress free as possible. Messes still happen, but hopefully, these tips will help you laugh through the sticky fingers and turn your time together into smiles and giggles instead of exhaustion and chaos!
Tip #1: Planning
Save yourself a lot of stress by planning your bakes with kids in advance and let them help! Ask what they’ve been wanting to make together- Cookies? Cinnamon rolls? Muffins? The possibilities are endless and their answer may surprise you.
Sometimes we’ll plan to bake something together and all three of my kiddos will help, but more often I just plan to bake with one kid at a time. The other two know their day is coming, so they don’t feel discouraged, and that one-on-one time is so sweet!
Tip #2: Preparation
This is the KEY to making your baking experience with young kids a smooth one! Go ahead and measure out your ingredients into separate bowls in advance (maybe during nap time, or even the evening before after they've gone to bed). Set aside the dry ingredients, and refrigerate your cold ingredients until an hour or so before you plan to bake. Pull everything out, and let them put it together.
Your little ones will still feel like they’re measuring ingredients, because they are getting to pour them in, but it cuts down on a ton of mess by having everything pre-measured out. As they get a little bit older, work in the actual measuring process and teach them how to weigh or measure out using cups.
Example: Your main bowl has flour, then you have smaller bowls of baking powder, salt, and spices. They sift the powder, salt and spices into the main bowl and then give everything a little whisk.
Tip #3: Cracking Eggs
Kids LOVE to crack eggs (as noted earlier). Have them crack eggs into a separate bowl, so that it’s easier to pick out any stray shells before adding the eggs to your batter.
Pro tip: Keep a wet rag next to your baking station to wipe messy hands and spills as you go.
Tip #4: Cleanup
It can be so much easier to clean things up yourself, but it’s important for your kiddos to help clean up as well. This helps them realize it’s not just mom’s responsibility to clean up messes (can I get an amen?!).
Depending on their age, it might be as simple as having them carry the bowls to the sink or wipe down the counter. As they get a little older, their role in the cleanup can increase.
The great part about cleanup is that when they’re young, they LIKE cleaning up! Let’s get that habit instilled now, so that as they get older it’s just part of it.
Tip #5: Timing
Choose a day to bake with your kids when you aren’t pressed for time.
There may be days when you’re trying to throw something together quickly and they want to help. It’s okay to have boundaries and say it won’t work this time.
Just follow it up with a future plan, “We’ll have a special you and Mommy baking time on Thursday!”
Tip #6: It’s Not About Perfection
I love beautiful things, but when I’m baking with my kids it isn’t about perfection. It literally doesn’t matter what it looks like at the end.
It’s about the experience.
Kids crave spending time with their parents- especially in the kitchen, and sweet friends, these memories will last a lifetime!
Tip #7: Enjoy!
My favorite memories are digging into what we’ve made when it’s ready.
Sometimes we grab a fork and just eat the cake straight out of the pan. We might have two or even three hot and fresh cookies with no guilt. We’ll slice a loaf of bread and butter it before it even has a chance to cool.
This is my favorite way to end a baking afternoon with my kiddos!
I hope these tips will encourage you to bake with your kiddos. It doesn’t matter if it’s a box mix or from scratch, it’s just about being together.
Let the memory making begin!