Friday, March 15, 2013

Cooking with littles


Life with littles is an exciting adventure. And cooking dinner with them in tow is no exception! Some people call it the "witching hour" and most days I can completely see why!

Over the years I've come up with a couple of handy techniques that help my family and I survive this infamous hour. I hope they'll help you too!

  • Try sitting your children down near to where you are cooking with a busy activity such as coloring or play-doh. It might even be enjoyable to turn on some classical music or an audio storybook.
  • Give your children a few bowls, spoons and measuring devices and let them sit on the kitchen floor near you. Let them pretend they are cooking just like you are. If you're feeling brave, give them some dried beans or rice to use as ingredients.
  • Make most (or all) of the meal ahead of time. I especially like to prep soup over nap time and let it simmer until dinner. I've also been known to prepare a whole casserole before 10AM so that I can bake it just before dinner, while bathing the kids. Baths are done, and so is dinner. What a great feeling!
  • Designate the last half-hour before dinner as screen time. Allow 30 minutes of computer/video games or TV time. If the whole day hasn't been filled with these activities, there is no reason to feel guilt about using these methods when you're in a pinch. On the weekends, my husband and I enjoy cooking together-- like ole times-- and in order to do this with some measure of peace and quiet, we allow the children to take their portable DVD player into one of their rooms and watch a movie together. It's a time that we all look forward to!
  • Give each child a day of the week to be your sous chef. Let that child help by retrieving items from the pantry and fridge, stirring, measuring, salad making and any other kitchen task you feel is appropriate for his or her age. The kids truly enjoy this one-on-one time with mom and love to be a part of preparing the family meal. Double blessing. 
So, what have I missed? How do you get through this sometimes often trying time of day? Please share!

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