Image Map

Letting Go, and Letting Kids Create in the Kitchen

31 January 2014

Since this week has essentially become confession week here at Teaching Good Eaters, I have another one to make.

I am not a naturally fun person.

This was made abundantly clear this past weekend when my husband and kids discussed a snowshoeing "adventure," in the woods. As I got up to get ready, my daughter said, "You're not coming, are you mom?!"

Apparently, she thought that I would just say, "no," to everything… I would have killed the spirit of adventure.

In order to be "fun," I have to push myself. I have to work at it. I need to push past the part of me that worries, and doubts, and over-thinks.

Since starting to read the book, Hands Free Mama, I have been trying to say "yes," more often. By this, I don't mean letting my kids do whatever they want, or even lightening up on the rules.

What I do mean, is stopping my knee-jerk reaction to say, "no," because of my own hangups.

Saying, "yes," to playdates, even though my house could be cleaner.
Saying, "yes," to reading a story, playing a game, or doing a craft, even though I have "things to do."

And, here's the big one for me right now, saying, "yes," to letting my kids create in the kitchen.

I've always been a proponent of kids in the kitchen.

However, a while back, as I was watching Master Chef Junior, it occurred to me that even if my own kids possessed culinary talents, I would never know it, because they had never been given the chance to try.

Sure they could follow a recipe and take my direction, but they certainly hadn't been given many opportunities to create, and even more importantly- to fail.

I was reminded, yet again, of the things I know about teaching and learning that I seem to ignore with own kids, particularly when it comes to things outside of the academic realm.

I crafted lessons that allowed kids to learn through experience, to evaluate what works and what doesn't, and I took advantage of the powerful learning that can take place when kids expectations do not yield the expected results.

Now, at home, I take complete control over all of their experiences with cooking, not allowing them to do any real learning at all.

I have don't have to do too much soul searching to figure out why this is: The kitchen is my domain, and I am a bit of a control freak.

Someone else in my kitchen using my food, gives me anxiety.

And so…. baby steps.

You may know that my daughter decided to start her own blog. She wanted to make a new post and asked if she could create her own cookie recipe.

This was not the first time she asked… but it was the first time I said, "yes." Even though, the kitchen was already a mess…  Even though I really needed the counter space to make dinner... I took a deep breath, said, "yes," and then tried to keep my mouth shut.

Her cookies turned out ok. She and my kids still ate them, but she decided that they weren't very good and tasted more like a bread than a cookie. She also decided that they weren't really blog worthy. By staying out of it, she was able to do all of this evaluation on her own, and she was still proud of herself, even though the cookies didn't turn out as she'd hoped.

Thanks to a cutting board and some "safety," knives my kids received for Christmas, my boys have been asking if they can make up recipes of their own, as well.

My kids are smart enough to know that a good way to get this mom to say, "yes," is to ask if they can make up their own recipes using vegetables.

I still have to take deep breaths while they invade my space (especially since once one starts, they ALL feel the need to work on their own creations, as well) but I also know that they will eat just about anything that they create.

Want to know the other hard part for me?? You know that post about how my kids are better eaters than I am? Sometimes I have to really push myself to try what they made. Sometimes, I have to be brave.

In the spirit, of letting go of control in the kitchen, I have decided to let my daughter plan and pack lunches next week. To be honest, this is a pretty safe experiment... In the wake of her reaction to the Lunchables experiment, I'm pretty confident that her choices will be "mom approved."

Is the kitchen your domain, or I am the only one who gets anxiety when someone else tries to take control in the kitchen?

Do you let you children experiment with food? What have they made?

All links to Amazon are affiliate links which means that if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small referral fee.


  1. Dear Julie (I think…just poked around your website but couldn't be sure of your name!) I loved, loved your post today about facing the challenge of allowing your own kids to create in, of all places, YOUR KITCHEN! It was such an honest and poking-fun-at-self story. So enjoyed it. Mrs. Radcliffe, an old PGH friend, put me on to your blog. You see, I suffered from that same "disease". But I faced my fear decades ago and recently experienced the fruit of such courage. My daughter, Molly (who is now 35 and sat on my counter from the age of two every time I cracked an egg) and I just published a Traditional Foods Cookbook together. It's called BACK TO BUTTER and is now available for pre-order on all major book sites. It will also soon be available on Molly's blog I don't know you but I'm so proud of you for stepping into the mess of creativity. You go Julie! One never knows where such courage will take you!

    1. Thank you for you kind comments…. how wonderful that you and your daughter wrote a cookbook together. I will need to check out your daughter's blog. Thanks so much for stopping by and connecting!!

  2. My kids liked to play a chef game. Here are some of the dishes my son prepared:

    cheese in mango juice
    cucumbers with cinnamon
    pickles in milk

    He can also follow a recipe, but makes a horrible mess. I find it's better if I just leave the kitchen and let him go. I come in when it's all over to assist with the clean-up.

    1. You are a fun mom! The things you do with your kids are amazing and your son's creativity in the kitchen is proof of that! Isn't it funny how we would instinctively know that those foods don't "go together," but he doesn't have the experience or the prejudices to know that!! Who knows what he will discover, you may just have a future Master Chef on your hands. Do you taste your son's creations?

  3. I love this post. My kiddo has been helping out and doing his own thing in the kitchen for quite a while. It is hard to let go and know that some of the food he makes is going to be inedible and thrown out. But, that is how he learns.

    1. Thanks Keitha! You are so right that it is how they learn! I have been impressed that they have been able to recognize when something doesn't work, and yet are still able to enjoy the process, even if they don't enjoy the result :)


Please add your questions, comments, and suggestions so that we can all learn from each other!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...