Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scheduling Kids in the Kitchen

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One thing that has been working for me lately is posting a schedule for who is supposed to help with dinner prep on which day.

Since we have seven children, each with his or her own preferences and interests, it's easy to allow each one to kind of drift into his or her own routines.

I have a couple of children who like to hang out in the kitchen each afternoon just before dinner time and help me chop and stir and saute without my even having to ask. I enjoy their company and appreciate their help, so it's a match made in heaven.

But, I have recently noticed that the children who don't naturally gravitate to the kitchen aren't getting any practice in those dinner preparations, and most importantly, they aren't getting the opportunity to serve others.

They seemed perfectly comfortable sitting around waiting for us worker bees to whip up dinner each day, and that made me perfectly uncomfortable.

So I made a schedule and posted it inside the pantry door.

Each day at 4:30 a different child is scheduled to help with dinner prep, while the others are assigned to tidy their rooms. (This ensures that the dinner helper feels a little extra special that day.)

The designated helper is to assist me in the kitchen as needed (and as age appropriate). They may help by washing and chopping vegetables, measuring and mixing ingredients, buttering pans, or whatever needs doing.

Here the 3 yr. old is helping with homemade pizza.

As we work, the two of us get a chance to chat, uninterrupted, and I make sure to review the basic steps and ingredients of the recipe we are using.

This ensures that each child gets a chance to practice skills involved in cooking and baking, AND that each one gets a chance to serve the family each week.

Works For Me!

26 comments:

Amy said...

What a great idea! Plus, with the room-tidying arrangement, you don't have anyone in the kitchen whining about being hungry! Or ...erm.... maybe that's just my house.

Nikki said...

I really like this plan of yours! Usually I have starving kids peeking in the fridge or begging me for a snack while I'm actually cooking. But I also have kids begging to help sometimes. This will encourage me to take the time to teach them. And I LOVE the cleaning rooms for the other kids. You're so smart Connie.

Cute pic of Reagan helping.

Sharon said...

Great tip! My son likes to help but usually ends up spilling more than he gets in the mixing bowl, and I am not trusting him with a knife (but he's only 2).

Loved your last post. I'm having a bit of a hard time with a group I've joined recently. Time to examine my actions more closely!

Hannah said...

Great idea! I need to do this so that I make sure I take the time to let them help and learn.

Kim @ Forever Wherever said...

Too cute! And a great idea!
~Kim

Muthering Heights said...

What a great idea - I'm sure they feel so special on their day!

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

That is a great idea... now if only I was home that early on any given day. :)

Holly said...

I need to be better about this...it's just so much easier to do it yourself! Thanks for the reminder.

Kirsty said...

Thank you, I have always believed it is such a disservice to kids to do everything for them, but it happens because you forget not to :)
I'm sure you are making great memories (and cooks!) thanks for the tip.

It Feels Like Chaos said...

I love this idea! Right now all 3 of my little kids are eager to help and I allow them to, but it would be much less stressful for me to just have 1 little helper at a time in the kitchen instead of 3!

~*Michelle*~ said...

Awesome idea!

Kim said...

I have the same "problem" at my house ;) My Emma would spend every waking second in the kitchen and loves all kitchen chores (sweet blessings!) but I found myself in the same situation as you.

I am having to be deliberate in spreadin' the love ... all the way from the kitchen to the toilets ;) We sure don't want to leave anyone out!

I am loving that countertop, too!

Hadley said...

great idea! Do you plan your meals around what child will be helping (to make sure there are easier tasks for the younger kids)? I love the fact that they are learning so much and getting quality time!

Dave @ Home School Dad said...

Fantastic idea! We are trying to implement something like that.

Sherry said...

Great idea! I even have a day where my children are in charge of the whole meal. :D

Sharon said...

Great Idea!! I posted a couple of days ago about teaching our boys responsibility...this fits right in! We do versions of this as well! Thanks!!

Mindee@ourfrontdoor.us said...

That's a great plan.

Amanda said...

So this is why I should have more kids?? LOL... this is a great plan! Maybe I can start rotating between my husband and son :)

I have a great post today on quick, natural foods on my blog - come check it out :)

Best Life said...

It is so true, the kids that don't gravitate to the kitchen don't learn to cook! I am going to try this. Thanks! Lisa~

momstheword said...

Wonderful idea. I rotated with my two kids. One was dinner helper (helped with dinner prep, just like yours do) and the other was cleanup (helped put the food away, loaded the d.w. and ran it, and wiped down table and swept floors).

Everyone helped put the food away and everyone loaded their own plates into the d.w. so it wasn't such a big job to clean up.

I think that chores teaches kids a work ethic.

A happy heart at home said...

What a wonderful idea! Your daughter is so cute.

~Susan

Summer said...

This is a great idea, and what a good reminder to encourage all of our children to serve their family.

Summer

LaVonne Long said...

That is such a cute picture of your daughter helping. For the first time today, I pulled up a chair and let my 15 month old help mommy make lunch. She put some burger, cheese, and tortillas in the casserole dish for enchilada bake. It was cute. thanks for blogging!

Jerri - Simply Sweet Home said...

Great idea!

{ L } said...

I just found your blog and am having so much fun looking at it! Great job. xoxo

mycuprunnethoverandsodoesmytodolist said...

I love doing this with my little ones as well! I have scheduled it before and then simply got out of the habit of it and now I am back to having 4 little people, all standing in chairs, around me helping prepare meals. I can't begin to tell you how chaotic this can get, I really need to start scheduling again. Thanks for the reminder! God Bless!

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