Best to start teaching your children early
Iím sitting on the floor during the last few hours of Natural Kids camp.
So far today, the kids have baked banana bread, done Zumba, learnt how to decode the ďsugarsĒ part of a food label, listened to stories, finished off some artwork and now theyíre having a big long play.
This is almost my favourite part of the day as itís cool to watch them get creative, start friendships and work out little squabbles. We have a chilled little pack this week so thereís not much drama and theyíre easy to entertain.
The cooking is always a little mad. Thereís batter on my laptop, flour in my hair (theirs too) and all over the floor ó I learnt to let that go last year. Cooking with kids is never going to be neat and tidy. No matter how much you explain it, they have to learn that stirring too hard makes the mixture jump out of the bowl.
And itís impossible to verbally convey how hard to tap an egg to break it open. Sometimes theyíll go too light, sometimes theyíll go too heavy. The latter is way more messy!!
This is our third year of running a camp and I have to say, aside from the fact weíre cooking in a boiling hot kitchen (with no air conditioning) in August, the cooking aspect has got easier.
Iím not going to lie, itís noisy and a little chaotic, but weíve found a formula thatís working well and we have a great team of junior counsellors who help us keep some kind of control (and most of the ingredients) in the right place.
Between that and cooking with the girls at home, Iíve gathered a few strategies that have helped preserve my sanity. If you like the idea of cooking with your kids but find it super stressful, read through the below and start over.
Teaching children to cook gives them a huge advantage; itís easier to be healthy, itís social and itís fun. So try to carve out the time.
Here are some simple tips and tricks for cooking with kids:
Let it go
Cooking with kids is messy. So, put on the Frozen soundtrack and just Let. It. Go. Your kitchen will look like a bomb has gone off in it but thatís all part of the process and it gets better with time. Of course itís a good life lesson to get them to help you clean up afterwards, but pick your battles.
Pick a good moment
Donít try being supermum (or superdad) when you are in a hurry, have just got your period (mums onlyÖ. dads, see a doctor), or when your kids are cranky. If youíve planned it but the timing doesnít seem good, follow your instinct. Everyone needs to be relaxed and happy for cooking to be fun.
Factor in attention span
Some kids like projects, others donít. Small kids tend to have a much shorter attention span, so start with quick and easy recipes. Try not to get frustrated if they lose interest quickly but turn off the TV in the background and put away other distractions so you can maximise the time. For healthy kid-friendly recipes, try www.100daysofrealfood.com
Think about pre-measuring
Make sure you have all the ingredients ready and to hand so that you can move the process along pretty swiftly. For really little kids, and especially if mess stresses you out, you might want to pre-chop and pre-measure ingredients into bowls. However, there is lots of hands-on maths to be learnt through measuring and weighing, so if you have the patience do it from scratch.
Chill the wine
Sometimes itís easier to embrace the chaos when you know thereís a cold glass of wine waiting for you. Channel your inner Mary Poppins, breathe deeply, be super patient and then reward yourself.
ēThe advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda
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