Chores are a big deal in our house and the kitchen is no exception. I know a lot of people are scared of having their kids help in the kitchen. Hot stove, sharp knives, garbage disposal, mixer!!! I get it. The kitchen can be a dangerous place.
The problem is we are doing a disservice to our kids by not giving them any responsibility in the kitchen. Part of teaching them what healthy living looks like includes being exposed to all the stages it takes to eat healthy. Ideally this would include planting and growing the food, but for those like myself who don’t live on a self sustaining homestead it can at least start with going to the grocery store (which I already talked about) or preparing meals and cleaning up in the kitchen.
Teaching kitchen safety and supervising is important, but don’t panic! If you let your child swim, go to parks, play sports, or ride in a car then you can stand the risk that is involved in letting them help in the kitchen.
Here is a list of ideas for kitchen chores for the age brackets that my three older kids fall in.
- Put clean silverware away
- Help set the table
- Help bring in light groceries
- Throw away trash
- Stir ingredients while cooking
- Dump measured ingredients while cooking
- Wipe down table and counters
- Set the table
- Help bring in and put away groceries
- Help with baking in cooking
- Help rinse/dry dishes
- Empty trash and reline can
- Get snacks or drinks
- Make sandwiches
- Do dishes/load dishwasher
- Put away dishes
- Pour drinks
- Scramble eggs
- Make simple meal like hotdogs
- Cut fruit while supervised
- Put away left overs
- Make coffee *Sorry, I have no shame. I taught my 9 year old to how to grind beans and use a french press.*
Those are just some ideas. They are meant to build on each other so the last age group can do all of the above.
Now here are a few tips to help implement the chores.
Keep your expectations realistic
I have very low expectations for toddlers and preschoolers. The point of chores at that stage in life is NOT for them to help you, but for you to help them so that they can help themselves (and you) when they are more capable. There are some toddler prodigies who can efficiently wipe down a table or do dishes, but it’s rare.
Don’t expect the same thing from each kid
Z loves helping me prepare meals and he’s mature and strong enough to take the trash outside and bring groceries inside. He is not so great however at dishes or wiping down counters. His sister is so much more thorough when it comes to these tasks. I want them both to have opportunity to learn each chore for later in life, but I mostly try to find their strengths and use that to everyone’s advantage.
Allow Yourself to have boundaries
Often times having kids help in the kitchen is more stressful than doing it yourself, not to mention more messy. In some cases it is a sacrifice to allow your kids to try certain tasks so that they can learn and be empowered. However, in real life and the real world there are times that I have to kick my kids out of the kitchen! I actually like not having an open floor plan for this reason. When I am having guests over I want to focus and I need to do it myself. So don’t feel like a horrible mom if you don’t need any helpers for certain jobs.
One final recommendation. If you want ideas to help your kids become more responsible and less entitled read Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma. I wrote a full review HERE. It is an excellent resource for moms, in my opinion.
I hope this post has been helpful in terms of knowing where to begin with kids in the kitchen. For more “kitcheny” stuff check out my series going on all month long here at Messy Mom.