Dinners have been different here. The kids have been wanting to help out more. We have been focusing on lower technicality recipes. I am trying to feed their curiosity but also their want to help. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and turn a child down from helping because we both know that means things are generally going to take twice as long and be twice as messy. Sometimes that is okay and can fit while other times that is just not going to work. This is important though. The Bigs have both asked me when they see my tired eyes how they can help. They see me buzzing around the house riddled with anxiety. They see everything. I simply cannot turn them down. They deserve to feel like they can help make things better.
We recently changed our cabinets around to help this idea flow better. My two big children and I sat down with our schedule to make a menu plan. They have a list that we have compiled over the years of recipes they love, so I gave them the chance to put as many of those in as they wanted. We hung the spreadsheet on the refrigerator so each week my 7-year-old daughter and I can put all of the dry ingredients together in the dinner bins. I try my best to remember to take out the meat we will need in the mornings and when they come home, they sit down for homework then help cook dinner.
My 9-year-old wanted to try his hand at mini taco cups. Simple enough with directions but safety was the big worry of mine. One he is a lefty so sometimes we struggle to learn with each other. He’s a visual person so immediately wants to completely mimic what I am doing but he is not right hand dominant so he tries to do stronger things with his weaker side. He cooked the ground turkey, seasoned it and set it up in the wonton wrappers by himself. I shredded the cheese for him and placed them in/out of the oven. When my husband came in from work, he was beaming with pride to tell him that he cooked dinner.
The same night, my 7-year-old and I worked on chocolate chip banana bread muffins. She tried to read off the recipe that we had to divide down in half. We were trying to use bananas that were becoming overly ripe. She struggled a little but heck I struggle splitting fractions in my head too. This is not her first bit of baking and certainly will not be her last. She has a love for it like I do!
But the best part of all of this… The kids took over certain parts of my husband’s and my meal prep. I walked them through the processes and at the end, they told me how much of a great team we make. It sounds silly but it brought tears to my eyes. I am always worried that I am completely screwing them up until moments like these. Praying that the tween years will be just as kind.