I’m a big fan of giving kids more independence when they can handle it . . . and I think kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for.
I get my kids involved in the kitchen early. My kids love to cook so it’s an easy sell for them but I love the way it encourages them to be more independent and builds their confidence.
I know many moms are hesitant to give kids too much independence in the kitchen. It can be a bit scary with all the hot things and the sharp things.
What if I told you:
- that my not quite 2 year old twins know how to unload the dishwasher?
- that my 12 year old son can cook dinner from scratch with no supervision?
- that my 3 year old daughter knows how to do all the prep work for tacos?
- that my 8 year old son knows how to mop the floor?
It sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Having my kids know their way around the kitchen is a huge help to me and as a bonus, I know they won’t starve to death when they grow up and move away from home. Those life skills sure come in handy during the college years!
So how did I do it?
My oldest son is a fabulous cook but he didn’t get there overnight. I start my kids doing simple tasks in the kitchen when they are 18 months old. Starting early gets them used to the idea of working in the kitchen and helps them become familiar with everything that goes on in a kitchen.
At my house, keeping the kitchen clean and organized is a group effort so we get everyone involved. My little toddler twins are in charge of unloading part of the dishwasher. They do the silverware and the plastic plates/cups/bowls. It’s the perfect job for them and they love helping.
Let Go of Perfection
Kids learn best if they are free to make mistakes and do things imperfectly. When my twins unload the dishwasher, the silverware just gets dumped into the drawer. I’m okay with that. They are learning the process.
When they unload the plastic plates, often they still have water on them. That really did a number of my wooden drawers and having wet spots was just begging for bacterial growth.
I did not want to step in and take over their job though. Doing that would express to them that they weren’t doing it well enough, and that’s just not the case.
So we looked for another solution and I discovered the new Easy Liner® with Clorox® shelf liners by Duck® brand now include antimicrobial protection to prevent the growth of odor-causing mold and mildew. That sounded like it would do the trick!
It was super simple to cut the liner to fit my drawer and lay it in.
Now my toddlers can keep unloading the dishwasher and I don’t have to worry about the drawer getting yucky.
You can use them in your fridge too so that’s next on my list. I’m all about making my life easier whenever I can.
Teach Skills and Build Upon Them
I look for activities my kids enjoy in the kitchen when I’m teaching them. That’s always a good starting point. My 3 year old daughter loves tacos so she’s always willing to help if she gets to eat the food she wants to eat.
I started having her tear lettuce with her hands to use as taco toppings. Now that she has mastered that, we have moved onto using a kid-friendly knife to cut tomatoes and using the can opener to open canned beans.
Each new skill she learns helps her develop more confidence in the kitchen and is helping her to learn life skills that will help her to be more and more independent as she grows.
How do you help your kids learn independence in the kitchen?
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