Cooking with Kiddos

I realized something today, as I made muffins with my three-year-old: cooking with her used to drive me crazy, but now we both actually like it! So I tried to pay closer attention to what we were doing to see if I could pinpoint exactly what I'd changed. Here's what I came up with:

1. Dress the part! This sounds sort of high-maintenance, but in our house it actually just means getting her hair out of her face and tossing on one of my own aprons to give her clothes a better chance of surviving. It helps me chill out, and she gets excited knowing that she's going to be a "baker"...and makes her less likely to lose interest and run off halfway through. 

2. Don't rush! I often feel like I'm rushing through the day - so a reminder to let her do the simple steps (instead of thinking that I could do them in 1/10th the time) is always good.

3. Lower your expectations! I love cooking and baking and like to do things from scratch, but when you have a tiny sous chef, it makes sense to make things as easy as possible. So today, we were just using a box mix and adding in a few ingredients to make it more exciting. Plus, if I've taken a shortcut like that then I'm more likely to take other extra steps that make it more fun for her (like measuring things out into their own containers so that she can do the dumping and mixing).

4. Embrace the mess! It'll take two seconds to clean when you're done, and in the meantime, she'll think you're co-conspirators when you say "let's just take a lick first" ;). 

5. Turn it into a show! This is the simplest one: don't forget to turn the oven light on, so they can proudly watch their creations baking!