The boy loves to help me in the kitchen. Whenever I get a recipe book out, he loves to get one of his own, and 'follow' along. He helps get out the measuring spoons and jugs, and any of the mixing spoons or spatulas that we might need. He has his own apron that he has to put on “in case I get any flour or dirt on me,” even if the recipe has no flour in it!
Then the fun begins. He likes to dump in the ingredients after I've measured them, and then of course, stirring them all up in the bowl is a big thing. Or watching them in the bowl of my electric mixer, or looking in the bread maker to see it all spin around. He also likes to help with the rolling pin, or putting dough in muffin cups, or using cookie cutters. So as long as it doesn't need to be perfect, then we're all good. He has a habit of using the cookie cutter randomly over the dough, sometimes on top of other ones he's already done, so we get some very weird shapes!
Odd shaped food still tastes as good, and baking and cooking helps teach great life skills. Not only will it help him to follow instructions, but measuring ingredients means he needs simple math skills and being able to make a meal as he gets older will come in very handy. The most important thing right now is that it helps teach patience, never an easy virtue in a toddler. So it's nice that he has to wait until the timer on the oven goes off. All I have to do is point to the stove to end the “Is it ready now mummy? How about now mummy? Now mummy? Mummy?” chorus that normally accompanies any amount of waiting in our house. It's not mean mummy that's holding him back, it's just not ready yet, and he can see that by watching the numbers count down.
It's fun to have help in the kitchen, and to see what he enjoys doing – breaking eggs is a favourite at the moment. He's not quite ready for Top Chef yet, unless a winning pizza is allowed to have all the sauce and veggies in one corner, (and no cheese, since the chef will have eaten it all prior to cooking!) I want him to continue to spend time with me in the kitchen, so that when he gets older, Kraft dinner will not be his only food source! Plus, it's a nice way for us to spend time together and chat, while doing something useful. The only real problem is that I have to share licking the beaters with him!