I am guessing you have that one little relative who is a mini-you but gets under your skin the most. So I watched in amusement as my friend’s little niece, the one who is constantly on her (my friend’s) DP, tried successfully to drive her crazy as she hurriedly prepared a meal.
It is amazing how much energy is packed in one tiny body. So she wanted to help out and tried to get involved with the preparation but, not at a time there was urgency in getting the food ready. Reminded me of an article I came across of ‘Mirror Neurons’. The articles states that due to these mirror neurons in our brains, we mentally duplicate actions and emotions we see.
A young tot wants to do what he/she has watched you do and is more likely to enjoy a meal he/she has helped prepare. Research has also shown that responsibilities at an early age give kids a higher success rate in handling life situations and challenges at adulthood.
These eager minds hone in on their cooking, logical and multitasking skills when introduced to culinary activities early. For career mums, meal preparation period is a time to bond with kids after a long day at work. Besides sharing such an important activity with mummy makes them feel close enough to divulge. Thus the kitchen should welcome these young minds and their curiosity but make space for their inexperience.
Yes, you dreamed up your kitchen as an all white affair. A jolt of bright Red, Orange or Yellow or even a bright pattern, character or writing on wall, corner or column will keep kids interested.
Introduce a list of recipes to be tried on a fridge or even a blackboard. Get them to try simple local dishes or at least learn to identify ingredients. They can even prepare some of the ingredients before the cooking begins. The kitchen is after all, a learning place.
Make allowance for their heights by providing footstools and in places where there is enough space, low work benches.
Go for natural looking low maintenance work stations and floors. These materials, like marble, should be non porous and easy to maintain and withstand spillages, scratches and smears from unstable hands. Please do not leave sharp and dangerous objects within reach of younger kids. Make use of upper cabinets and ensure even the cabinets down have locks on some of them. Please keep a space for them to keep their own ‘utensils’.
Ventilation and lighting are important as there will be a higher number of cooks in the kitchen.
Safety must not be down played as a stray piece of food flung an excited cook might grow mold, fungi and bacteria, so kids should equally participate in the regular scrubbing of the kitchen floors and surfaces.
The kitchen has transcended from a place of food preparation to a place of gathering and family time. After a while, you and dad will probably want to relax in that warm space and watch your young cooks display their works.