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Cooking with the Littles

These little people of ours are messy and loud and destructive and dangerous!

So the kitchen doesn't seem like the best place for them to hang out...

But that's exactly where they should be!

Kids are sponges. They watch everything you do. They repeat what you say. And they're learning from everything you're doing. All day long!

Part of my goal as a mom in raising healthy, happy, capable adults someday is to teach them how to cook!

Too many young people don't know how to cook a meal for themselves anymore. We have learned to buy processed foods full of powders and chemicals or just get a fast meal from a drive-through.

So take any and every opportunity to be a good example for your kids and teach them their way around in the kitchen! And if you're not so sure about your way around, then learn together!

But I know the stress of their messes, when they add too much of an ingredient or watching them climb on the counters and digging in your cupboards.

Most of the time when my kids are involved there are extra messes, everything takes longer, and just about all of my kitchen utensils need to be washed by the time we are done making dinner.

However, teaching them how to cook and getting them involved - even if it's just once or twice a week - is so important!

Here are some tips to make it easier for you to actually enjoy cooking with your kids:

-Let them help with a simple recipe, according to their age and ability.

-Choose a recipe that you are familiar with so that you're not having to concentrate too much on the recipe.

-Allow them to pick a recipe out to let them feel some ownership in the process.

-For the littlest ones, give them a pot and some measuring cups to keep them busy while you do the real work.

-Put on some music and make it fun! Especially when you do the dishes afterwards. Work can be fun, too!

-Let them feel and smell new foods to explore healthy choices.

-Use this opportunity to point out positive attributes like how helpful they are, how careful or how creative they are! Build them up and make them feel good about themselves!

-Be patient! Obviously, right? Take this opportunity as a practice session for your patience and allow yourself to enjoy the moment. We can forget that these kids do grow up, a little too quickly, I have to say. So take some deep breaths as the salt gets spilled and the egg cracks on the countertop.

Being a mom has forced me to learn a huge lesson on patience - and I'm not perfect at it just yet. Through moments like these my kids actually teach me more than I feel like I teach them.

Motherhood is a funny journey ;)