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A Tradition of Love

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Sneaky Chef

Some of the memories I cherish most from childhood are those of helping my mom in the kitchen. It was mostly the occasional baking for a treat or holiday; she actually wasn’t a huge fan of cooking for the most part, but she pretty much always let us help from as early as I can remember…starting off with stirring and eventually moving up to being able to complete each task.

From that point, I was never held back from experimenting in the kitchen.

We had this crazy 70′s style plastic case full of recipe cards that had a whole section of recipes for children. I think I made almost all of them – my mom was happy to buy the ingredients and I got my little brother in on the action. Now that I think about it those were probably some hideously disgusting recipes lolbut I was so proud of myself for putting it all together!

As we grew older my brother and I took over many of the cooking duties, and I continued to learn and experiment – we even hosted a ‘French’ dinner for my parents one night in the backyard, where I made quiche for the first time – so exotic!

I kind of laugh at myself now about it all, but I really do remember the joy I had in all of those activities – especially when I figured out how to make something really great and shared it with friends.

For me, it’s a rich legacy of tradition, creativity, and family all mixed together – so of course I can’t wait to pass all of it on to my own little ones.

I’ve actually been surprised at how easy it’s been already to involve my daughter in the kitchen – she’s only 14 months after all, but I’ve already seen several ways to include her…

From the youngest age, wearing her in a wrap (and being very careful!) while preparing dinner was a way to keep her close to me while doing an act of love for my family (which cooking definitely is!).

As she started on solids around 6 months, I’ve (for the most part) been happy to let her touch her food – play with it and experience it in whatever ways she’s wanted to. I will admit – on occasion I find it annoying – mainly when I’m not in the mood for a lot of clean-up – but mostly it’s really quite fun to witness the wonder and learning on her face as she checks out each new thing.

Now that she’s toddling around, she loves to open cupboards…and of course we’re so awesome that we haven’t put any of those handy dandy lock thingies on any of them yet. What we have been able to do is designate one cupboard as her cupboard – it’s mainly full of plastic butter dishes and lids from days gone by – and with enough prodding and direction from us, it only took her a few weeks to figure out which one was hers – now she goes directly to it and has a ball pulling things out and putting them back in, or grabbing a few lids and carrying them around the house.

Of course, she still tries for the other ones on occasion, but it’s gotten much easier to direct her away from them!

Beyond that, I try to let her observe as much as possible – she loves looking into the fridge and seeing what’s cooking on the stove, and being able to have a piece of whatever I might be chopping on the counter. She’s always very proud to hold a piece of banana or cheese and likely as not mash it to bits…though a little usually does make it into her mouth.

And I’m always happy to hand her a wooden spoon to play with…I know it won’t be long before she’s ready to start stirring.

I don’t know if Bean will love to cook as much as I do, but the thing I’d most like to pass on to her is that essence – the love and joy that can be found in creating a beautiful, healthy meal for the people in your life.

It’s not just the cooking either – I hope to someday involve her in the planning, the shopping (and gardening!), setting the table, the putting away and cleaning up…I trust at least one of these aspects will be most meaningful for her and stay with her for the rest of her life.

I’m so thankful to my own mom for passing this tradition on to me, and I’d like to dedicate this post to her. Thank you mom!!

How do you involve your kids in the kitchen?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

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40 Responses to “A Tradition of Love”

  • thehappywomb2011 says:

    Great minds Kelly!! My post is on the same theme!! (I missed the boat with getting on the code, so here's my link)

  • Tat says:

    It's fantastic that you have such wonderful memories. I remember my own mum always tired and having very little patience for messy kids in the kitchen. I often find my mum in me – after all it is much easier to do things yourself – and it is sometimes real effort for me to slow down and let them help and make mess. But I'm sure it will be an effort well worth it.
    My recent post Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one!

  • Melissa says:

    So sweet, Kelly! I hadn't thought of it when preparing for this carnival, but the tradition is so valuable. My own best memories with my mother and my grandmother are in the kitchen. I squealed with excitement when I found the same orange, old school version of the Betty Crocker cookbook that they both used in a thrift store. Nothing in it is vegan, and there's an updated version, but that's not the point! I love that I have the very same one!

    Thanks for the reminder of this beautiful and valuable tradition. With all that in mind, I think I'll be spending a lot more time at the counter with my own little this week :)

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks Melissa!

      I am totally with you on the Betty Crocker cookbook (hilarious that there is nothing Vegan in it though!)…but yes – definitely memories. :) Enjoy your kitchen time with your little!

      PS Can't wait to show Bean that SCOBY I'm growing… :)
      My recent post A Tradition of Love

  • You know, I never really had a cabinet set aside for Kieran, but he did often get into the cabinets on his level before he started walking. I made sure that everything in those cabinets was safe – but I think with #2 I'll actually create a space for him/her to play in. Thanks so much for sharing your memories :)

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks Dionna! :) We have such a small kitchen that while there's not much that could be considered unsafe in the cupboards, there is a lot I would prefer not be strewn across the floor! I was really surprised how easy it was to get her to understand having her own space was…and I think she really likes that aspect of it being 'hers' too. :)
      My recent post A Tradition of Love

  • Alicia C. says:

    I used to always help my grandma cook something whenever I visited – at least once a week. I love those memories and am working to pass them on to my own kids. It must be working because my oldest (acting like an old man looking back at his long life, LOL) fondly recalls memories of helping me make one thing or another.

    My little guy has his own cupboard, too. He's in charge of making sure all of our canned goods are in order. Whenever we go to the store, it's his job to put the canned foods away. And he recently graduated from being the stirrer to using a knife (it's a butter knife). He is so proud to be able to cut things like mushrooms and bananas like a big guy!
    My recent post The Very Best Classroom {#CarNatPar}

  • OurMindfulLife says:

    Wow, you brought back so many memories of my own little Bean! She turned 5 in July, but at 14 months, she was much the same. These days, she is happy to make peanut butter sandwiches, set the table, get snacks for her and her brother, helps a ton in the garden and with the chickens, and is helping us to plan our move to a bigger farm. The journey was so wonderful with her, and reading this post pulled me right back through each of those years. Thank you!

  • You remind me that my boys will be forming lifelong memories in the kitchen. I do remember always having the job of mashing potatoes from a very young age!

    I love the idea of your daughter having her own cupboard, and it’s great to read how much you involve her in daily tasks.

    We have had a similar approach to you, and our boys know their way around the kitchen, have access to all the cupboards, and get involved with the whole process from garden/grocery store to the dinner table. It’s nice to share our lives together like this!

  • Hobo_Mama says:

    What a sweet tribute to your mom! I remember this kids' cookbook I had growing up that I loved. My favorite recipe was for a chocolate maple milkshake, which still sounds good now, actually. :) My mom had this wall of antique kitchen utensils, and the one I would get down for this recipe was a hand-cranking mixer. I loved that thing! I wonder where it is…

    Thanks for sharing your joy and showing how you're passing it on!
    My recent post November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family feeding in Child of Mine

  • Isil says:

    I love how you share your experiences with your little one.I personally love cooking and it's a joy to cook and chat and share all these with loved ones. So I love including our
    My recent post Kids Rooms {Wall Decoration Ideas}

  • I can totally relate… I remember cooking as a child too!

    Jesse also has his own cupboard :)
    Christine @ African Babies Don’t Cry recently posted..Wordless Wednesday : Watermelon

  • Great post for the carnival! I'm still slowly making my way through them and getting great ideas. I love how you bring in your own memories of being in the kitchen and now look at it from the other side as the parent. I've also, very carefully, had babies in the kitchen from birth and it's natural to them to want to help out. I'm trying to let go and allow them to really get involved and so far we haven't had any burns or cuts bad enough to dampen their enthusiasm. Plus, it's my secret to getting them to eat. They will eat anything they prepare! So, I put them in charge of salads and vegetable prepping. *cue maniacal parent laugh*
    My recent post Living in Shades of Grey

  • We do the same things in my house and this is how I was raised. Love this article. Very well written. We do a country theme fairly often with a little passport and music from there and talk about the particular country and everything. We also make sure to take the kids to see where their food comes from and talk about it as we handle that food later. I'd love to share with you my article about raising adventurous eaters, I bet you would love it and probably agree with everything on it.

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