Following Rules – Have a few rules and stick to them. This will help everyone know what is expected of them and make it a little more enjoyable.
My rules are:
- Only Mommy (or Daddy) can turn on the mixer. (This is only because they are still young and we have had them start it when a spoon or someone’s hand was still in the bowl.)
- No hands in the mixer when it is running.
- And no licking the measuring spoons and cups – Mom will give you a little spoon to taste after it is all mixed together.
Listening – It’s a skill they will be able to enhance the more they get to do and try new things
Sharing/Taking Turns – I make sure that my kids take turns when it comes to adding ingredients. This will save you from arguments on who wants to do what. My kiddos have done it enough now that they even make sure I get a turn.
Counting – When you are putting the ingredients into the bowl you have your children help you count how many cups of flour you put in, etc. Sometimes I choose a smaller measuring spoon or cup just so we get to count higher
Follow Through – this is a great opportunity to teach them that the fun is not over until you have added all the ingredients. I was great for many years and making cookie dough, but horrible at baking it. I can blame that on the fact that most of the people in my family growing up were dough lovers! Now that I am married, my husband would rather eat the cookies, so I have my inspiration to bake the dough.
Cleaning Up – Teach your children that cleaning up is part of the cooking/baking process. So while your treat is baking everyone helps clean up. Teach them to leave the area better than they found it. All containers get put away, dirty dishes go in the sink, the mixer gets wiped down (my biggest pet peeve!) as well as the counter. I always expect a fight when it comes to the, but am always impressed by the eagerness of all my little helpers to help out. Sometimes we make it a game by having a race. You got to do what you have to do keep them motivated!
(This is how I first started baking with my son. I would keep the mixer on the table and then bring the bowl over to him to add the ingredients. He was much too helpful and it was not an enjoyable activity if he wasn't in his chair while the mixer was out!)
Remember to Relax and Have Fun – Messes will happen, but with your few rules and guidelines things shouldn’t get too out of control! If it is too stressful for you, find a way to reduce the recipe to fewer steps. Like, if you were making cookies, combine all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, oatmeal, etc) together in a bowl before you start the project with your kids. Or even by a box/bag mix from the store. Those usually have only 1 to 3 ingredients to add and are a great starter “recipe” when you are just beginning to bake with your little ones.
(This is how I first started baking with my son. I would keep the mixer on the table and then bring the bowl over to him to add the ingredients. He was much too helpful if he wasn't in his chair!)