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.
Of course no specialized gear is required for the family looking to include their kids in the kitchen. Everyday items do the job just fine, but finding tools that are scaled to the child’s size can make things a bit easier, and help to empower children who might otherwise struggle with items that are made for adults to handle. Long before my daughter was born, I developed a keen eye for child-sized gadgets and cooking utensils. I often joke that the reason I worked a second job while teaching was to pay for all of the things I would buy for my classroom. Of course the school would always provide me with the funds for things I truly needed (and then some), but when you happen upon a miniature cheese grater while out grocery shopping, you don’t wait for the school to approve your purchase. You just buy it.
I was always surprised by how difficult it could be to find items designed with children in mind, so I was constantly on the lookout for things to add to my ever expanding collection. When my daughter became interested in working with me in the kitchen, I already had plenty of tools on hand, but I have made new discoveries along the way and continue to compulsively grow my collection, so I thought I would share some tricks of the trade for those who are still preparing a space for their own kids in the kitchen. Continue reading
A couple of weeks back, I mentioned that I was changing things a bit with respect to our mealtime routine. I got some great advice and feedback from a few of you and subsequently changed things even more. Here’s a little update on how that’s going.
Family Style Meals
Serving our food “family style” has made a huge difference. We waste less food, because Annabelle serves herself and starts with a small amount. In the past I gave her a good bit to avoid several trips to the kitchen, but now she controls her own portions. She is also more interested in her food, since the process involves her more. Dinnertime is far more pleasant, because Annabelle is busily involved, filling her plate, pouring her water, sprinkling things, dipping things. Whereas the husband and I used to rush through, hoping we could finish our meals before we had reached the end of Annabelle’s ability to sit still, we’re now finishing up and then enjoying more time to sit and chat as she finishes her food. Of course the whole thing is rich with opportunities for fine motor practice, too. Continue reading
After reading my bloggy friend Jessica’s enthusiastic plans to host a pumpkin themed toddler Halloween party, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I pushed my nerves aside, and decided to throw a party for the toddlers and moms who attend the weekly play group I organize. Generally, we meet at different parks around the island to give the children a chance to run and enjoy some fresh air, but it is the rainy season, so I thought I would invite everyone to our house to eliminate the need for a contingency plan. Our party was on Friday, and I was thrilled that almost everyone we invited was able to make it. On an average Friday, we have no more than half a dozen moms at play group, but we had eleven moms at the pumpkin party. It was a bit chaotic, but it was tons of fun and totally worth it.
My goal was to make sure that everything was edible and safe to explore. I also wanted to offer a few different things to do so that the toddlers could choose whatever appealed to them. There was no schedule of events – I just set up the activities and the food in advance so that the kids could lead the way. We did: Continue reading