As much as I adore the time when the boys want to help in the kitchen, there are times, and tasks, that warrant a little independent culinary time. I gladly accept the challenge of a child who wants to be more involved; it simply isn’t always feasible to have R or G next to me when I am, say, using the mandoline or frying something over high heat. What’s a mom to do?
Additionally, it is ironic that the more involved/intricate/dangerous a cooking task may be, the more interested/needy/whiney the boys suddenly become. I never want them to equate cooking with being stressful, so I try my best to distract them, rather than futilely trying to keep them at bay while I cook.
In a moment of desperation last week, I stumbled across my stack of brown paper lunch bags that I usually reserve for making our homemade popcorn. A lightbulb went off in my mind and, in a stroke of momentary genius, I came up with the following idea.
Take the brown paper bag:
Write a "treasure hunt" item to be found on the flap, using simple, easy-to-read words:
Fold the flap back down and repeat with about 10 or so bags.
I gathered R and G and said, "You are going on a treasure hunt!" This went over very well, since both of them are into pirates and the whole idea of hide and seek. I let them each pick a bag, and then had R read the bags (bonus: helps him work on his reading). I then gave them an "on your mark, get set, go!" and off they went, looking around the house for their items.
This game occupied them for a good 20 minutes, a mommy eternity. I was able to finish my cooking and even set the table while they gleefully went around the house searching for their items.
Hopefully this idea won’t get old too quickly, since it felt brilliant to cook and have them engaged in a learning, active game.
Have a great weekend,