Dear Hallee: Baking with Small Children

With it being the week before Christmas, many of us will spend many hours in the kitchen cooking, baking, and candy-making.  I thought it was perfect timing to get this question posed to me on my Hallee the Homemaker facebook wall:

It’s amazing to me how much time you spend cooking/baking – seriously – do you have hired help? You have young kids – who I’m assuming make messes and require your attention – any tips?   ~Miranda

I do not have hired help – although, while Gregg was in Afghanistan, I did have help.

(1)  I encourage my kids to help me in the kitchen – especially with baking.

The first time Kaylee ever kneaded dough, she still had a pacifier in her mouth (I wish I could find that picture.)  That made her younger than 3.  Now, at 14, she can make anything.  She can read just about any recipe, follow the instructions, and create.  I let her cook without restraint.

The boys stir, mix, knead, measure, pour, grate, and zest.  If I have something soft to cut up (a melon, for instance) they even have a plastic knife that looks like an alligator that they can use to saw through the softer foods.  They are  learning what the measurements mean, the basics of fractions, and the difference between baking powder and baking soda.

They each have their own chair and stand on them when they’re in the kitchen with me.  I often have to reach to work around the chairs because they’re crowding the work space.

(2) My house is extremely compact.  It’s not necessarily small, but no matter in what room I’m working, I can hear what’s going on in any other room in the house.  Sometimes, they’re playing in their room or in the living room while I’m in the kitchen.  That doesn’t bother me.  I am extremely efficient in the kitchen.  I can get a totally from scratch cake in the oven in less than ten minutes.

(3) I’m not averse to popping in a DVD or turning on Netflix.  Mater’s Tall Tails or Spectacular Spiderman will completely tree them and buy me 20 solid, safe minutes.

Oh yeah – and, oh my yes, they make messes.  Wow.  My kids are pros at that.



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