There is nothing more "homey" to me than the smell of sauteing onion and garlic, the feel of dough beneath your palms, the rhythm of chopping vegetables or the sound of the gentle hum from a running oven. I love the rhythms that come with kitchen work, the sound of the faucet, the feel of soap bubbles on my skin... I call it meditation. (yes, I know I'm sick)
Having small kids can interfere greatly with any form of meditation, even this one. I try to let the girls help out as much as they can, but sometimes that's just. not. practical. When that's the case, here's how I occupy the little ones while I'm doing my thang.
1) Clean Team: There is always a counter that could use a wiping, glasses to be retrieved from the other room, and a floor that could use a little sweep. (Note: when your little one is first learning to sweep, tape a small square on the floor and ask them to get all the crumbs into that square. Hand brooms are easier for little hands to use)
|Just look at that concentration!|
2) Bean Counters: If you are having beans or pasta for dinner, give them a container of dried goods and a bowl or pot. Ask them to transfer a certain number of beans/pasta (one at a time) to the bowl, or give them a measuring cup and ask them to measure out a certain number of cups for you. (Note: This process can be repeated more than once to buy yourself some extra time)
3) Water Therapy: Find some dishes or food items for them to rinse in the sink. If you are having vegetables with dinner, put them in charge of rinsing them off (this is easier for little ones if you provide a pool of water in a bowl or the sink). Or just fill the sink with soap and water and let them splash around (Note: I highly recommend placing a towel on the floor under your child's stool before you do this)
4) Little Helpers: Find something they can do to help you. Need something mixed, sifted or measured? Enlist your little helpers. If you're making a snack or meal for your children, choose something that they can help prepare. Little hands can cut bananas with a butter knife, spread peanut butter on bread or celery, and even cut the crust off of toast. (Note: Small utensils work best for little hands. Never give your child a sharp knife while unattended)
|♫♫ "For every job that must be done there is an element of fun..."|
5) Distraction: Provide an arts and crafts project and let them do it at the kitchen counter (we have a eating area at our counter that is rarely used as a place to eat).
6) Chalk it Up: We have a few of our bottom cabinet inserts painted with chalkboard paint, and some chalk on a bottom shelf… a non-planned, ever-ready arts and crafts project for "those" days. This has been a life-saver on many occasions.
|"Look, Mom, a glass of juice!"|
7) Entertain Me: Ask your little ones to entertain you while you're working. They can tell you a story, sing you a song or put on a show. (Note: You earn a few extra minutes by sending them off to the dress up trunk to choose their outfits for the play).
If they don't want to entertain you, ask them to sit down (somewhere out of the way) and listen to a story. Tell them a story about the meal you are preparing: Did you get the recipe from a family member? Tell them about when you were a child and grandma used to make this for you. Is it an ethnic meal of some sort? Tell them about the country your cuisine originates from. Are your vegetables organic? Tell them why you choose to buy organic foods. If theres no theme, you can always tell them the story of how the food got to you and how far it had to travel to get there. (Farmer-to-table) Tell them a story about what you did when you were a child and waiting for a meal, or helping an adult in the kitchen.
That's what works for me! What works for you?
***UPDATE: No, really, what works for you? Comments are wide open! :D