Five Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook

Five Tips for Teaching Kids to cook.

As I’ve worked to re-organize our days, I’ve looked at a lot of chore charts.  The chores that I see for kids are all pretty standard–wipe the table, pick up toys, make the bed, etc.  Some chores (like load the dishwasher) even get the kids IN the kitchen, but I rarely see meal preparation as part of that list.  I think that is because the thought of getting our kids in the kitchen is a little intimidating to many of us.  So, today I’d like to give you five tips for teaching kids to cook.

Teach your kids to cook (even if you can't). Teaching Kids To Cook is teaching an important life skill.

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5 Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook:

Remember your “why”.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids’ academic success, but many of us rarely think about teaching them life skills.  Of course, they will need to have a good career to make a living.  However, we often forget that no matter what they do professionally, they will need to run a household.  And, most of them won’t make enough money to hire a maid and a cook.  If we don’t take the time to teach our kids how to cook, we are sabotaging all of those years of making sure that they eat healthy foods.  Because, if they get out on their own not knowing how to cook, they will likely turn to take out, fast food, and microwave dinners–which will be bad for their health and their finances.

Prepare before bringing your kids into the kitchen.  

Trust me on this.  Nothing is more frustrating than running into the pantry to grab an ingredient only to come back to a spilled mixing bowl because one of your kids wanted to help stir.  Lay out your recipe. Gather all of the kitchen tools you will need.  (I even set them up in “stations” according to what task each kid will be doing.)  Bring in stools or sturdy chairs for your kids to stand on, if needed.  Sit out all of your ingredients.  (I also group them, if needed.  For example, the recipe has you mix wet and dry ingredients separately.)  Lastly, take a deep breath and muster up all of your patience.

Work from left to right.  

Put your pan or mixing bowl in the middle with all of the ingredients on the left-hand side.  As you add each ingredient, move it to the right-hand side of the pan/bowl.  It’s easy for me to forget if I already added an ingredient when I’m cooking on my own.  Add in a few kids, and I have NO CHANCE.  LOL!  Please, save yourself the frustration, and use this system.

Let go of perfectionism.  

I know that sometimes it can be almost painful to watch little hands fumble to do what is easy for ours only to end up with a…umm…less-than-perfect result.  You may have to eat a few burnt pancakes or have dinner an hour late.  But, just remember, you are making an investment in your kid AND yourself.  Not only will they go into their adult lives confident in the kitchen, but, before long, they will be a HUGE help to you!  Think about how much time it will save you when your 12-year-old chops all of the vegetables, your 9-year-old measures out all of the spices, and your little ones set the table.  Even if you don’t have a bigger family, like me, any one of those things is a time saver!  And, even though it is a little chaotic at times, the kids really do love being a part of what you’re doing and doing “adult” things.

Last of all, get help!  

Honestly, I had a hard time letting my kids into the kitchen because I wasn’t really comfortable in the kitchen.  Most of what I knew, I figured out the hard way so I wasn’t even sure if I was doing it right.  Google was (and still is) my friend when it comes to all of those cooking terms like sautée, blanch, or al dente.  So, how on earth was I supposed to teach all of these things in the middle of a kitchen full of kids, knives, and an open flame?  LOL!  For that reason, I just didn’t.  I needed help.  I needed a plan.  I needed somebody that knew what they were doing.  And, I found exactly that when I stumbled across the Kids Cook Real Food course by Kitchen Stewardship.

 Teaching kids to cook is as important as math and history!(Check out our affiliate info in the sidebar.)

Honestly, I have been looking at this course for over a year.  I am extremely frugal and am always trying to do stuff myself to save money.  But, guess what happened in that year that I waited.  My kids got older, and they didn’t learn anything about cooking.  

So, at the beginning of this summer, as I was looking at a one week art camp for my daughter, I had a realization.  It was $95 for her to get 15 hours of art instruction.  That was not much less than it would cost me for a lifetime membership to all three levels of the cooking class for all four of my kids and a lot more than some of the annual plans!  So, since my youngest kids are at the beginner level, I am going to get a lot of bang for my buck as they move on to the intermediate and advanced classes at no extra charge!  And, they are all learning a very valuable life skill.  

Now, I am not saying that art isn’t important, but eating is absolutely necessary, and it’s much more important to me that they can prepare wholesome, healthy meals.  And, as a bonus, after we finish a lesson, we have a healthy snack, side, or meal instead of another craft project adding to the clutter I’m always fighting!  I highly recommend checking out the curriculum here!

So, what about you?  Have you taught your kids to cook?  What are some tips you can share with the rest of us that are interested in teaching kids to cook?  Is teaching kids to cook important to you, but you haven’t done anything about it?  Why or why not?

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to fit cooking classes into your schedule?  Check out this post.

Why you need a daily routine instead of a daily schedule. Plus, a free printable to help you get started!

 

Do you know you need to get your kids in the kitchen, but you just keep putting it off?  Read these tips.

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination!

 

Five Tips To Help You Get Up Early From A Lifelong Night Owl

tips to get up early

I have always been a night owl.  My mom eventually gave up on enforcing bedtimes earlier than 10pm because I simply couldn’t turn my brain off and go to sleep any earlier.  But, now that I’m a mom, I have discovered that waking up after my kids means waking up to chaos, which, in turn, makes me not want to wake up at all!  However, I still crave that quiet time where I can just BE without everyone needing something from me.  So, after years of fighting it, I have learned to get up early so I can get a little time to myself and be awake and prepared for the day before the kids start stirring around.  

How to get up early

Here are my top five tips to help you get up early in the morning.

  1. Prepare the night before.  A messy, cluttered house and a kitchen sink full of dishes is enough to make even natural early birds pull the covers back over their heads.  Take some time the night before to prepare for your rising.  Pick up the house.  Clean the kitchen, and sit out everything for your morning coffee (or other favorite morning beverage).  I even like to start breakfast.  This crockpot oatmeal or these freezable breakfast burritos are my favorites, but I also turn to several of these quick morning recipes when I want to switch things up.
  2. Swallow the frog!  I know.  You’re wondering what on earth that means.  Whatever it is, it sounds like something that makes you want to hide UNDER the bed, not get out of it.  LOL!  It actually refers to a quote by Mark Twain:  “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  A lot of people use it as motivation to do their hardest jobs first.  Then, the rest of their day is easier.  I love the concept, but for a life-long night owl, getting up early is the thing that I dread!  So, as soon as I wake up I “swallow the frog” by hopping out of bed.  Since I just did the hard thing, I have better things (like a clean-ish house, my favorite drink, and breakfast) ahead of me.  I may actually have another frog to eat once I get my day going, but I can deal with that once I’m fully awake, showered, satisfied with good food, and ready to take on the day!  Not swallowing the frog is actually just a way to put off the hard or undesirable things that we all have to do, if you struggle with procrastination, check out my tips for overcoming procrastination.
  3. Spend at least 15 minutes out in the sun shortly after you wake up.  Sunlight turns off the flow of melatonin (which makes you feel sleepy) and causes your brain to produce serotonin (which is thought to produce feelings of well-being and fight off depression).  
  4. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.  It’s tempting to sleep in, especially if you were up late the night before.  But, sleeping in will make it harder for you to sleep well that night which makes you sleep in the next morning, and it becomes a vicious cycle.  
  5. Get a good night’s sleep.  It’s easy to be unrealistic about the amount of sleep you need when you are deciding on a sleep schedule.  Don’t give in to the temptation to cut yourself short on sleep so you can get more done.  You may accomplish more in the short term, but eventually lack of sleep will catch up with you and you will suffer from lack of focus, exhaustion, poor health, and general moodiness.  To figure out how much sleep I need, I went to bed at the same time for several nights in a row and paid attention to what time I consistently woke up without an alarm clock.  When I woke up, I got up and started my daily routine. 

By the way, if you struggle with keeping a daily schedule, I have a free worksheet to help you develop a daily routine–a general flow to your day to keep you on-track without the stress of keeping a strict schedule.  Following a daily routine instead of a schedule revolutionized my days at home with kids (because we all know kids have a way of blowing even the most perfectly thought-out schedule).  I call it my schedule with grace!  Get the free Daily Routine Worksheet here!

daily routine builder

What about you?  Do you find that your days go better if you get up before your kids?  Do you have any tips for someone who is struggling to get up early?

Establish A Daily Routine Without The Schedule

daily schedule with toddlers

When I was a new mom, I was suddenly thrown into the world of trying to keep the house under control and dinner on the table with the added responsibility of a tiny human being relying on me for his every need.  I was overwhelmed to say the least!  As I searched on-line for guidance, the re-occuring advice was that I needed be on a schedule.  By the time I had several years (and several kids) under my parenting belt, I was the queen of making schedules.  But, it wasn’t because I was succeeding in my role as a mom and homemaker.  No, it was because I had made so many schedules!  And, within weeks, each one would fall flat, leaving me flat on my face crying because I just couldn’t get my stuff together!  It wasn’t until many years into this vicious cycle, that I was introduced to the idea of creating a daily routine!

a daily routine instead of a daily schedule

A daily routine is similar to a daily schedule but without the strict time constraints.  It is the order, or the flow, of your day.  You see, the reason my schedules kept failing was because I had kids!  (Ironically, I needed a schedule so badly because I had kids!  LOL!)  But, kids can completely obliterate even the best of schedules with a single diaper explosion or melt-down over a math problem.  My day would be going along exactly as planned, then an unexpected incident would completely de-rail my whole operation.  Before I knew it, I was two hours behind with no hope of ever getting back on track.  It doesn’t take very many days of that to make you completely give up… again. 


daily routine builder

But, a daily routine is a schedule with grace.  When un-expected events occur, it’s okay.  Since you are not under time constraints, you have the freedom to deal with the un-expected, then move on to the next thing.  Yet, your daily routine is always there to give you the next thing.  Without that, you waste tons of time and mental energy between tasks trying to figure out what you should do next.  My daily schedule has truly given me the structure that I need without taking away the necessary flexibility required for successful, peaceful parenting.

Have you found yourself in the same boat?  If so, follow these simple guidelines to give the daily routine a try:

  1. Write down everything that needs to happen in your typical day.  This includes getting up, daily devotions, meals, nap times, school drop-off, homeschooling, housework, computer tasks, play time, self-care, bath time, bedtime… Everything.
  2. Establish “check points” with grace.  Check points are a way of giving yourself accountability with grace.  Check points are times during the day where you would like to be to certain points of your routine.  For example, the best check points to begin with are when you would like everyone to get up and go to bed.  The time between when you (the parent) get up and when you go to bed is the time-frame for the rest of the family’s daily routine.  Next, establish a few check points during the day.  These mid-day check points should include meal times, nap times, and necessary obligations (where you have to be somewhere at a certain time).  Write these check points in order on a piece of paper with plenty of space to “schedule” the time in-between.  Block out the 30 minutes before each check point.  This is were the grace comes in to your daily routine.  That extra thirty minutes is going to serve as “catch up” time for that portion of the day.  You are always going to have unexpected things pop up.  Knowing that you have several thirty minute periods scheduled for catching up during the day removes that stress and allows you to deal with your kids in a kinder, more patient way!
  3. Fill in the rest of your time with the remaining necessary tasks.  Go through your list of remaining tasks for the day and jot down how long you think each task should take.  Then, fill in the empty space on your paper with those tasks.  For example, if you have three hours between breakfast and lunch, pick tasks that add up to 2 1/2 hours worth of time (remember, the other 30 minutes is your grace period), and add them to your routine.  
  4. If you have more tasks than you have time slots, re-evaluate.  If the tasks on your list outnumber the hours in your waking day, it’s time to re-evaluate your list.  Can you get up 30 minutes earlier and still get a decent amount of sleep?  Can some jobs be done every other day?  If so, they can share the same slot on your routine.  Are you constantly falling behind because your home is full of clutter, or are you exhausted because you have poor eating habits?  There are great resources to help you on-line.  Invest in them!  Here is why it is worth it!  Are you doing too much?  If you can’t fit everything into your daily routine, it’s time to have a family meeting to decide what you can cut out of your schedule or delegate to someone else.  This one is hard because we want to do everything, but it is necessary for your quality of life!  Seeing everything written down is good for you and your family to really understand what you are asking of yourself on a day-to-day basis and will provide clarity when making those hard decisions!
  5. Adjust your daily routine as needed!  You are not going to get everything perfect the first time.  Write your daily routine in pencil, and spend the first couple of weeks tweaking it!  You will settle into a rhythm that works for you and your family, and you will be so glad you stuck with it!
  6. Don’t wait.  Do it now!  Don’t put off making a family routine until later.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, then something needs to change.  Simply click the button below, to get our free Daily Routine Worksheet, and give the daily routine a fair try.  If it doesn’t improve your life, you can go back to how you are doing things now.  I promise.  If you’re struggling with getting started, here are some tips to overcome procrastination.

daily routine builder

How about you?  Have you tried and tried to establish a schedule and failed?  Do you create the perfect schedule only to have it de-railed by life?  Do you have any tips that have worked for you?

Are you struggling with mom guilt?  Read this.

Processed food and other mommy wars...And the reason behind them. #parenting #mommywars

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