It’s Day 7 of #12daysofparenting blog, and today’s theme is about cooking with children. Thanks for hopping from Glossy Tots if you did. 🙂 Entries (UK residents only) for the fab giveaway are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post; check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway .
So, cooking with children during this season and beyond … how does that work? Precious Sparkle is not even 2 and I know normal everyday cooking with him adds that bit of challenge to it. It doesn’t help that he is oblivious to kitchen hazards, and wants his diverse needs met whenever he fancies. 😃
It must be that much more stressful, getting through cooking a time-consuming feast like many do during this time of the year, with tots. So I thought I’d share 7 easy and fun things to do with tots while you cook; the ‘that little less stressful’ cooking experience with children is largely achieved from keeping them occupied.
These activities are easier if there is someone else in the house that can do them with your tot(s) whilst you cook, but they’re doable if it’s just you, especially with only one child … or with a mix of older and younger children.
Here we go …
Easy And Fun Things To Do With Tots While You Cook
It’s never too early to cultivate a love of reading in children, though it’s not always easy to get them to sit down to read. Reading is a favourite pastime at ours and my little one sometimes brings his books to us to read.
In between visits to the kitchen to check on what you’re cooking, reading to tots whilst they stand and stare at accompanying pictures, or sit on your laps resting, is always a special moment.
Babies can play with age-appropriate books in play pens, and toddlers onwards are able to sit down and ‘read’ by themselves for short periods of time (which of course gets longer as they grow older).
For younger children, the more colourful, the bigger the pictures, the more sounds, the easier it is to turn pages for little fingers, the better.
2. Colouring / Doodling
This is fab for young children when supervised, except you want your cushions, floors, and walls covered with pencil / pen marks.
All you need is some paper or colouring book depending on your child’s age, and colouring pencils. This is one to do when you know that you’ll have some considerable gap away from what you’re cooking.
Indeed, depending on how big your kitchen is, and how comfortable you feel about having young children in it, some colouring can be done on the kitchen floor. For this though, I’ll use a really big paper, and make sure I keep a close eye to make sure all they’re doing is colouring.
This is fab for short gaps away from the kitchen … my toddler is now at the age that I can ask him to sing for me, and we can sing together too; such fun. 🙂 Sometimes, they might just be happy to be held, whilst you walk around and sing to them.
If you’re cooking and babywearing, then singing is a fab activity to do together if they’re of age. It is also very soothing for children, especially when they’re younger I think, to hear their parents voice. Singing offers a fab opportunity to keep talking to them without the stress of finding what to talk about to a little person that can’t ‘converse’ back.
If you have a recording set, you could also set singing / recording challenges for children who are old enough, as a little project to do for later sharing with the family … a fab time-consuming activity to positively occupy their attention.
4. Window Watching
This is a calming activity for children who aren’t too big to hold, except you have a safe surface they can sit on and gaze out from.
Gazing out of the window is a distraction that works all the time with Precious Sparkle, and it can be as short or long as I want, except when he particularly wants to stay longer.
We watch the planes flying through the clouds, the birds flocking together, cars passing by, lights etc. He likes pointing out what he sees, and repeating them as his language develops. It really gives him lots to jibber jabber about; and sometimes he just enjoys watching all the goings and comings quietly.
This is definitely an easy peasy low stress activity for short or long gaps between cooking checks.
5. Playing Games
What games you play and how you do this depends on the age of your child.
Play mats are fab for babies, and play pens for older babies until they want to explore beyond it. They are fab to use for quick dashes to the kitchen to check what you’re cooking, or to the loo, or to get the door etc. They might even fit your kitchen if it’s big enough and what you’re cooking has a low potential hazard e.g. doesn’t require the movement of hot food across surfaces etc.
Peekaboo is a fab game and you can make this as high or low energy as you want; not one to play whilst in the kitchen for considerable lengths of time, but one that works with a very quick dash to the kitchen for very quick cooking checks.
I make up games with my toddler that we can play whilst he stands by the kitchen door when I’m perhaps checking the pot on the cooker. For example, I say the names of certain animals and he makes their sounds, or vice versa; or I repeat bits of nursery rhymes that he enjoys and he fills in the verbal gap. He usually lets me know when he’s had enough. 🙂
For older children, there are lots and lots of educational games out there, both offline and online. I must say I’m not keen on online games or children spending lots of time on the computer for a number of reasons that I might explore in another post. Board games like connect 4 or age-appropriate puzzles comes in very handy too.
6. Outdoor Play
This is hard to do if there aren’t other adults around and your child(ren) isn’t old enough to be out on their own.
It can be high energy but also exhilarating for all involved. It can be as simple as running around your garden, balcony, or communal space; you of course need to take necessary precautions for their safety … the last thing you want is a child getting hurt when you’re cooking.
7. Get them involved
The last but not the least is to get them involved in the cooking process, either partly or fully, and of course take care to keep them away from cooking hazards whilst telling them about it.
There are lots of fun ways you can do this, from low hazards / low mess ways like getting a kitchen set for them to play with, to time-consuming / high mess ways like getting them to wear an age-appropriate apron and helping to get ingredients ready. I currently don’t do either of this.
Precious Sparkle now knows he shouldn’t go into the kitchen whenever he fancies, especially when we’re cooking. He understands words like ‘hot’ and he knows an accompanying action which helps to turn discouraging his interest in reaching out for hot things, into a kind of game.
I also sometimes hold him, to take him into the kitchen to observe parts of our cooking, and I take the opportunity to tell him names of food and highlight any obvious kitchen hazards.
So, there you have it, 7 easy and fun things to do with tots while you cook, I hope you’ve picked up an idea that you can try out. ‘Hat’ is my #12daysofparenting code word. 🙂
Check out Mummies Waiting to read her cooking with kids post, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.
~ Which of these tips work for you? ~