Even though it usually takes longer.
Even though it’s definitely messier.
You should cook with your kids.
Not every meal. Because time in the universe we live in, the one dictated by a 24-hour clock that just won’t budge no matter how hard I try to explain that I need at least two extra hours in the day (Heck, make it three and I can finally watch the fourth season of Scandal.), won’t do it.
Sometimes it’s worth it to make the effort.
#1: Because it’s a life skill they need.
Knowing how to nourish yourself isn’t a lofty goal. It’s not a pair of boyfriend jeans paired with a front braid on Pinterest, something you think, “Oh, that’s so cute. Wonder if I could pull it off?” Nope. Cooking for yourself is a real thing that adults should know how to do. But they don’t. Twenty-eight percent of adults say they don’t know how to cook. (I totally believe this because I’m married to one of them.) And another thing: 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. I’m just going to toss one more out there too: One in three kids eats fast food EVERY DAY. Related? Come on. We can do better.
(Just a second, I need to step down from my soapbox. There. Ok. Now let’s go on.)
Everyone, anyone, can master a few simple things: how to throw together a roast chicken with vegetables, make pancakes, cook a pan of roasted vegetables, whip up a plate of scrambled eggs and make one reliably good pasta dish. With just those skills, life in the kitchen becomes less foreign. Cooking turns from a chore to a productive hobby–one with health benefits and emotional perks too, especially if you eat together.
#2: Because it develops their minds.
Cooking requires math, patience, listening, following instructions and sometimes–when there are 3 or more cooks in a kitchen like ours–diplomacy. Taking your turn, figuring out who’ll do what, it’s all part of teamwork. And you know what else? There’s pride. In a job well done, or at least in the effort extended to people they love. (I know because I’ve had many, many flops.) And that’s another piece of this puzzle: humility. You can do your best and STILL not get the results you wanted. Cooking has its share of tough breaks but that’s just like life. Sometimes things turn out beautifully, sometimes you get burned. You still have to just keep going, trying again tomorrow.
#3: Because you’re creating memories they’ll have FOREVER.
I don’t know about you but I’d like my kids to remember more about life with me than how uptight I was about getting their clothes In The Hamper. The sweet truth is, the little guys want to spend time with me. My kids ask me every day, “Can I bake with you?” (They ask this when I’m making toast, so “bake” is a loose term but you get the idea. They want in.)
We started in Rome, in a tiny but sunny kitchen. First there was one small cook. Then two. Perched on tall stools, tiny hands stirred, sprinkled and supervised. As toddlers, preschoolers and now elementary aged kiddos, these guys learned age-appropriate kitchen skills along the way.
My Dream Kitchen and Your Chance to Win One Too
Now we have a bigger house in the country, filled with fancy GE appliances. This is the setting for what feels like 90% of our time: the kitchen. I’ve got a gas range, a double oven and something I’d never know how much I’d use: a warming drawer. It’s a great setup, one I’m deeply grateful to have.
I mention this because you could have one too: Just enter the American Kitchen Sweepstakes. As part of this sponsored post, you can enter daily for your chance to win your dream kitchen from GE Appliances.
The girls are bigger now, and so is George. (Violet is 15 months old and not steady enough to perch on a stool. Or trustworthy enough. Nothing says The Fun is Over like a toddler sailing off the edge of a counter.) Paul’s mom made them matching aprons. The aprons live on a hook in the pantry where the rascals can reach them then throw
on the floor in the hamper when they’re done cooking.
Memory Making Recipes for Fall
We try a lot of new recipes all the time, but as the kids get a little bigger we’re building traditions together.
One of my favorites is a recipe that Paul’s mom shared with us. Whole-Wheat Apricot Tarts. She’s been making these since he was a kid. And in the 10 years I’ve known Paul’s parents, I’ve seen these tarts lining the counters every time we visited their home in Florida. It’s a family recipe that’s lasted. She passed it on to us, and we made a small update. When preschool-aged Phoebe wasn’t sold on dried apricots, we filled ours with organic strawberry jam–and just like that, our own tradition was born.
Here are our favorite recipes we make every fall:
Cooking together with these kids has been one of the joys (and sometimes struggles) of my life. And we’ve only just started!
Want more inspiration? Watch how the Richards Family used their kitchen to bring their children, adopted from two different continents, together. #OurAmericanKitchen
Watch the Richards Family story here!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of GE Appliances. The opinions and text are all mine.