The Kid-Friendly Kitchen
by Alice Osborne
We promised in our last installment that we'd share ideas on how to make the kitchen easier for your children to work in. Thus, here are some tips to realistically be able to expect help from all capable hands. Not only will "family prepared" meals save you time, they'll build family-team spirit as well.
The first suggestion we always give is to streamline your kitchen (removing everything you don't like, use, need, want or have room for), then set it up in "centers" (what these are depends on your interests and lifestyle). A streamlined kitchen is easier for everyone to work in, but is especially workable when more than one person is on duty there. Then:
- If you'd like help setting the table and emptying the dishwasher, consider relocating your dishes and glasses to a child-accessible lower cupboard (kinder-locks can be installed if there are toddlers in the family that love to explore cupboards).
- If you're serious about your children helping, consider investing in Corelle Dinnerware. If pieces get dropped, they don't break--no muss, no fuss.
- Provide a stepstool so children can reach the sink for rinsing dishes prior to loading the dishwasher.
- Gradeschoolers can grate cheese, put ice cubes in glasses, make toast, put crackers and chips in bowls or baskets, wash fruit and vegetables, grease cookie sheets and baking pans, crack eggs, use a hand mixer, toss a salad, clear the table, and so much more.
- Post an assignment sheet on the fridg door so family members can see what their dinner assignments are prior to dinner time. Set a specific time you'd like to have all assignments completed.
- Consider providing appropriate-sized aprons for all your kitchen help. This inspires teamwork and comradery.
- Always compliment and occasionally reward family for their help. "Catch 'em doin' something good!" is the best way to enhance your chances of family help continuing in cheerful stead.
Children aren't children very long, so cash in on their enthusiasm, teachability and availability while you can. Although it may take a little effort getting into a new method of mealtime operation, it's so worth it--besides the work ethic you'll instill, there's the wonderful memories you'll make.
We could go on and on about the important conversations we had while stirring the soup pot, or how much fun we had "kitchen dancing" while clearing the dinner table and doing the dishes. Believe us--the effort you put into this will bless everyone in the family!
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