What to do with your child while making dinner, isn’t that the question!
Well, if you have the patience and a little bit of extra time during your meal prep, cooking with them can be a great way to bond, keep them busy and teach them at the same time. I started involving Cameron in the kitchen with me around the time he turned two and I’m amazed at how much fun we both have together and how much he has learned. He is actually a big help nowadays:
“Cameron, can you get the salad spinner out, the salt, pepper and the Pam?” Done! This guy knows a handful of our most used spices, utensils and small kitchen appliances, he can get them out and put them away in the right places. And later, he uses the same spices while preparing meals in his little kitchen.
One of the first things I started having him do a little more on his own was to help me make salads. Rather than make one large salad to toss we would make small ones for him, Daddy and me. The first thing we do is wash and tare lettuce together then he gets to use the salad spinner – this is also an excellent way to keep them busy while you’re doing other things. I put it on the floor and he spins and stops it for as long as his little heart desires.
Next, I set him up on the opposite side of the counter from me with three salad bowls. He watches as I cut up the vegetables, as I cut them, I give him a pile and it’s his job to count and sort each vegetable into each bowl. At first, this was a fun activity for us but I have since realized how it pushes him to practice his skills.
“Cameron, each bowl gets 6 slices of tomatoes.” He then has to count them out for each bowl, encouraging him to sort, count and organize. This was not an easy skill at first but he continues to get better at it. What I’ve also noticed as we cook together, he is more willing to try new things at the table, when he’s had a hand in making them. He’ll eat salmon, homemade turkey burgers, turkey burrito bowls, he tries salad with lettuce in it and he loves smoothies. What used to be a task has now become a fun activity together. He refers to me as “Chef” and will proudly ask “what next, Chef?” I will respond with what we’re doing next and call him “Chef Cameron,” he is so proud. Cooking with Cam is one of my favorite things to do.