We know, we know - baking with kids can be a little intimidating. The preparation! The mess! (Actually, we all know it's mostly about the mess. We get it.)
With 4 kids between us, we've witnessed the chaos that can ensue when baking with kids, but we've also witnessed the magic too. The truth is, the benefits far outweigh the negatives - and really, what activity with kids doesn't end up messy anyway?
Teaching kids to cook and bake gives them valuable life skills - it's a terrific opportunity to not only teach them about food and where it comes from, but also science and math. I love to use a kitchen scale when I cook with my kids (not only for accuracy) because I can turn it into a sneaky math lesson. We weigh in grams, which are easier for kids to read and work with. Put them in charge of monitoring the number you have to reach; have older kids try and make the recipe x2, and so on.
Teach them responsibility by reminding them of that pre-school classic hit "Clean-up, Clean up..." You want to eat it? You gotta help clean up first. It's a hard and fast rule in our home.
Here are our TOP Tips for baking with kids
1. Embrace the Mess
Yup, we said it. You really just have to embrace the mess. That said, there are ways to make things a little more manageable. First, make clean-up a breeze: line your countertop with a large sheet of parchment or newspaper paper. Next, keep surfaces clear so there are fewer temptations. If you leave a jar of sugar on the counter, your child WILL start messing with it.
2. Start Small
Younger kids (as you will know), have pretty short attention spans, so now is not the time to get out that recipe from The French Laundry cookbook. Find a one-bowl recipe with only a few ingredients. Better yet, buy a kit! With a kit, ingredients are pre-measured and the instructions are simple to follow.
3. Use Non-Breakables
As much as Instagram is calling for you to use your thrift shop-found antique bowls. your cooking activity will be a lot less stressful if you stick to melamine or plastic bowls and tools.
4. Be One Step Ahead at All Times
Translation: read the instructions first! No doubt, the second you find yourself trying to figure out which ingredient gets beaten in and which gets folded in, your child will have emptied the entire bag of chocolate chips on the counter. If you know the steps, you'll have the time and attention to keep your eyes on the kids.
For the little ones, give them a bowl, some measuring spoons, and flour and let them measure and mix without messing up what's going into the actual bowl.
5. Give Yourself Twice the Time
A cooking project should not be started when you have 33 minutes before having to pick up the eldest child from karate. A good rule of thumb: if you're baking with kids, give yourself twice as much time as the recipe says. No rushing = less stress = actually enjoying yourself with your kids!
Find a rainy day, when you need an alternative to screen time. Or turn it into a fun family game night that has an equally fun reward at the end.
6. Take the Time to Enjoy What you Made
Be it with a tea party or sitting together for dessert, sit down together as a family. Then, talk about the recipe - what you liked about making it, what you would do differently next time. Asking specific questions will open your child up to chat.