08 November 2011

Kitchen Control

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.


If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m going to tell you now: I’m a bit of a control freak. Over the years, I’ve done a fair to decent amount of work on this “problem” and I’ve allowed other people to have control in some situations where I previously wouldn’t have felt physically comfortable doing so. Needless to say, I still have a lot of work to do before I am fully comfortable allowing my children to help me in the kitchen because of this intense need to control what is going on. However, I want my children to be comfortable in the kitchen, develop a love of cooking and the skills necessary to feed themselves from as young an age as possible. In other words, I need to suck it up. (Nevertheless, Additionally, On the other hand, how many more introductory phrases can I use in this post?)

Piper eating some bread or something.

Heidi is at the point where she will frequently ask me to help while I’m cooking. She wants to stir, dump ingredients into a bowl or pot, or use whatever utensil I have in the works. Certainly, this is only natural since she is a curious, intelligent young child and I know this to be true. It does not, however, make it any easier for me to “deal with” as someone who becomes physically changed by a lack of control.

In an effort to squelch this issue, I have tried pre-measuring everything for her to dump into whatever container we’re using, but this does not help me as much as one might think. She (and Piper) still sticks her fingers into whatever she’s dumping (or sometimes an entire hand) and this makes me twitch. I can feel my muscles start to tense up and from there, it’s only a matter of time before I become short-tempered and start restricting her activity. I wish I had some way of turning this off, but too many thoughts of waste and lack float through my head about how expensive the ingredients are and how I want whatever I’m making to still turn out well. Controlling in the kitchen is a real problem.

I’m working on it, as I said. Whenever I remember, I let her dump flour or sugar into a bowl, let her stir it a little or let her dump vegetables into a pot I’m working with. I think the best thing I can do is to allow her to help a little bit at a time in order to build up my comfort level as well as her skills. I have a strong desire for both of my children to be well versed in cooking from an early age; all I need to do is let that desire overpower my need for control in the kitchen.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter's suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • "Mommy, Can I Help?" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food - it's a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn't cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa's making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won't eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children's favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What's Next? panicks about passing on her food "issues" to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family's relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M's first adventures with food.

14 comments:

  1. I often find it difficult to let them help even without considering myself a control freak, so it looks like you're doing a great job at working through it!

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  2. Isn't it fun how our kids always make us reconsider our difficulties? For me it's perfectionism and order... VBut I'm slowly letting go :)

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  3. I'm a bit of a control freak myself, so I totally understand the difficulty in letting go. I think recognizing what's going on is a huge first step and it sounds like you're doing wonderfully beyond that.

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  4. I am right there with you mama. Today Kieran and I were baking pumpkin bread, and I had to bite my tongue so many times trying not to lose my cool over hastily stirred (and spilled) flour, eggs almost dropped on the floor, mixer blades going every which way, etc. But man, we had fun - and it was SO yummy. I'm glad I'm learning to let go, but it is a long process!

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  5. Oh my gosh I am the same way. My little one always wants to help in the kitchen, and I'm totally cool with it...but typically about halfway through I'm whining at her to stop rubbing flour in her hair and dumping it on the floor. The easiest solution I came up with is to clean everything off our dining room table, set her on it, and pre-measure the ingredients (like you said as well). Then she can dump it all over the table and it's super easy to scoop it back in the bowl. Barely any of it gets on the floor because our table is big.

    Hope that suggestion helped a bit :/ I feel ya though LOL.

    xo, mrs. stone

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  6. It sounds like a lot of us Mama's feel this way. I sure do. I do a lot better if it's my idea for her to help me. But if I'm trying to get dinner together, it totally stresses me out!

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  7. *he, he* All control freaks say I.
    Me: "I"


    No good suggestions here but I do keep my dustbuster handy ;)

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  8. Oh man, I can definitely relate. Burkley isn't old enough to do the whole pseudo-help thing, but I know I will be the same way when he is. I too always consider how much things cost and the fact that I want everything to turn out well. So great that you're able to admit it and be willing to work on it. Maybe I'll get there someday too. :)

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  9. Oh, man, I was getting twitchy just reading about this. Gaining patience is an ongoing struggle. The funny thing is (funny to me), if Mikko is helping Sam and Sam's getting irritated, I'm the one who's all calm and sweet Mother Hen who comes in and coos, "He's just trying to help!" Heh heh. It's so much easier to keep perspective when it's not my mess…

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  10. Thank you all! I think that's a great idea, Mrs. Stone! We do have a rather sizeable table so that might be the ticket for her!

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  11. We make a lot of messes here on a daily basis. If, however, I"m trying to bake something and don't want to destroy the whole kitchen and have it take twice as long.. I give the kiddos a separate "cooking" project. A bowl of dried pasta with a whisk?? That way I still get control of what I'm making.

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  12. How do you keep from getting frustrated? My daughter isn't old enough to "help" yet, but I imagine it can be maddening when you just want to get it done sometimes.

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  13. Erica I do similar things when I'm baking - when I finish using measuring cups, I'll put a few scoops of flour into them and give them the spoons so they can stir it, eat it or do whatever they want out of the kitchen :)

    Emma and/or Sean, I really have a hard time not getting frustrated, so I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. The only thing that does help me out is what I said above: giving them what I'm done working with so they get the heck out of the kitchen :)

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  14. I can totally relate to the control freak thing...
    No advice, as Jesse is a bit too small to help, so no experience in this department yet :)

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