We moms always have a lot on our plates.
One that I struggle with is balancing the need to cook for my family with the need to slow down and teach my little ones how to cook, and then the need to do silly things with them and play and read books and help with homework.
It feels like there’s never enough time in the day!
My quick tips today, in this very last Organizing in October post, are designed to help you integrate your kids into the kitchen to accomplish goals one and two: with a little investment, you can teach your children skills, spend time with them, and get the return on investment of kids who can actually help in the kitchen without you having to micromanage.
A kitchen that is organized to be kid-friendly is the first step.
Because I have a "kid cupboard" down low, my kids can get their own dishes, help set the table easily, and unload the dishwasher. They know how to sort silverware.
I have a long way to go, however, as they get older and can do more at the stove. A lot of my supplies are up high, so I’ve been thinking about how to make a more kid-friendly space. (Waiting for the kids to grow taller seems like a good plan…)
Jami Delgado of EatNourishing.com is the guest lecturer in the latest GNOWFGLINS eCourse, and she has such wisdom on kids helping in the kitchen. I’ve been given permission to share excerpts from lesson 8 of the Real Food Kids eCourse, "Organizing the Kitchen with Kids in Mind:"
Organizing the kitchen can be quite a chore. Believe me, I know! Even though you may have your kitchen set up exactly the way you want it, you might consider changing a few things to better suit working with your kids in the kitchen. We have rearranged the kitchen no less than four times since getting the kids involved in kitchen duties, all in an attempt to find the best arrangement for us. We also have to tweak the arrangement periodically, as the kids get older and their skills change. Don’t be afraid to try and try again!
Our kitchen is very small and severely lacks cabinet space. There are a lot of awkward areas and “dead spaces.” It was often difficult to work in the kitchen with everyone because of this. We have made many, many changes to help make the space more streamlined, organized and useable, including knocking down a wall and combining our kitchen and dining areas. Our kitchen is also very old and not as easy to keep clean looking, but you’ve got to work with what you having, right? Perhaps it won’t draw ooohs and awwws, but it’s functional.
Her 7 Strategies include:
- Re-think your space.
- Organize spaces into zones.
- Compartmentalize your foods.
- Create a snack/lunch zone.
- Consider labeling shelves and drawers.
- Create a play zone. (for babies and toddlers to get into while the family is working)
- Create a clean-up area.
Another tool for families larger than two kids is the Drinkbands that help keep the drinking glass clutter to a minimum. You save time by not having to wash so many glasses, and everyone is responsible for their own cup.
Jami often has her kids set up to work at the kitchen table, which is shorter so they don’t have to stand on chairs, and out of the way of rushing feet in their small kitchen.
The zones enable many people to be working at once and have what they need for their task close at hand, preventing kitchen collisions.
Basic organization means kids can understand the kitchen and find things, then put them away with confidence.
And clean-up tools at kid level help kids take care of their own messes.
Between Wardeh and Jami, the tips are flying in their ecourse!
Making a Plan
How you get kids into the kitchen depends largely on 3 things, in my opinion:
- Your desire to do it
- A little forethought and organization
- Making a plan and sticking with it
Your children are individuals, so your approach to training them in household tasks needs to be as well. It’s really up to you to decide what your kiddos can handle, what you can handle, and what goals to set.
My job is just remind you to set goals and be cognizant about them.
For today, go back through the top 10 quickie organizing tips and consider your kitchen with the perspective of your children. Choose one goal for the month of November for each child in your family. For example, our 7-year-old learned to make guacamole completely by himself this summer (except for cutting the avocado, which he really wants to do…) and is being trained to make tacos, too.
For general household chores and morning routine stuff (brush teeth, take dishes in, etc.) my kids earn beans, in case you were wondering.
How can you make your space more kid-friendly so it’s less stressful to let them "help" and train kids to do real kitchen tasks?
Next Time on…
Organizing in October: I’m already planning for next October with topics like:
- bulk food storage
- deep freezer
- what else?
Disclosure: I am a partner with the ecourses and earn a fee if you become a member. See my full disclosure statement here.