Who decided cooking with kids is fun?

Allison Tait blog
Posted on January 23, 2010

Is there anything more satisfying than watching a cake rise? Okay, maybe that’s a sweeping rhetorical question, but having just made vanilla cupcakes for Mr 3’s birthday, I feel pretty happy with it.

Or perhaps that’s just the relief talking.

Life throws a few furphies at us, but none more so than the list of stuff that is supposed to constitute ‘fun with kids’.

Like gardening – pulling weeds on a hot summer’s day with a three year old doesn’t make it high on my list of awesome things to do. I know, I’ll look back on that quality time with nostalgia in a few years when he won’t even let me drop him off in front of the school lest someone see us, but now?

It makes a reasonably stress-free activity into a nightmare of ‘don’t do that, not the basil, dig over here’.

And then there’s cooking. There’s a huge range of cute ‘accessories’ now available to tempt us into the kitchen with kids. The experts reckon it’s an essential part of learning, growing and loving.

I agree with that (if not the accessories – kids just want to use mum’s stuff in my experience). I just find the reality of it to be, um, temper-inducing.

I’ve cooked with both my boys from the moment they could stand on a chair to ‘help’. We don’t do sharp knives. Just stirring, measuring, cracking eggs, decorating the gingerbread ‘guys’, licking bowls.

At the end of the day, they’d like to fast-forward to the decorating (aka, eating M&Ms) and licking bowls (particularly when I’m explaining why you cream butter and sugar, and why cakes need aeration) – and so would I. It signifies job done. It leaves happy memories to overlay the ‘please don’t throw flour all over the floor’ discussion.

Perhaps that’s why they continue to turn up when I suggest a cooking activity. They don’t see the determination to turn them into men who can look after themselves (and give their other halves a break from kitchen duty when the time comes).

They, apparently, think cooking with mum is fun.

Like most things in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.


  1. Charis

    Ha ha, my mum never let me in the kitchen when she was cooking… but she’d call me when it was time to lick the cake bowl!

  2. HeeWho

    I “cook” with mine (termed loosely when involving boys) but I always found it an activity to mentally prepare for. When you have to give yourself a pep talk beforehand, it may not qualify as fun. And the garden is my sanctuary. No kids allowed. It relieves the stress from the flour all over the floor.

  3. Kirsty@MyHomeTruths

    I’m such a control freak and neat freak that I dread cooking with my kids and the mess they will make and the uneven cupcakes they will deliver… But I try really hard to take a deep breath and enjoy their enthusiasm and appreciate our time together. But it is not natural to me and is definitely a work in progress…

  4. Shelley @ My Shoebox Life

    Cooking with ten toddlers or twenty five kinder children is even better. NOT. I certainly don’t miss those cooking days. Visiting from The Rewind.

  5. Saucy B

    Yeah, i have yet to have that picture postcard moment of making a delicious and healthy meal with my son.
    Any forays in the kitchen are usually marked by “no, don’t stir so rough.” “let me pour it.” “no, that’s too much.”

  6. MultipleMum

    God! I am with you. Cooking with kids is only fun in theory. Thanks for Rewinding x

  7. therhythmmethod

    My boys are pretty good in the kitchen. Our biggest drama is taking turns with the spoon. It usually ends in someone having a meltdown, often me. But it’s all good life experience.

  8. Quill and Ink Handmade

    I like the idea of cooking with the kids – but don’t end up doing it very often, even though there’s a part of me that feels like I should.
    But there’s all that mess. And fights. And sticking of fingers in beaters, wanting to taste the raw eggs, or wanting to touch scalding hot muffin trays.

    I’m one of those ‘Go outside and play, and I’ll make you some delicious cake,’ kind of mammas…

    Great post! x

  9. Mrs Catch

    I agree with you. There’s nothing more fun than removing eggshell from cake mix, is there?

  10. Jaimee Hunter

    I came on our scene a little late in the game and Hubby Dearest had been doing everything for him and Darling Daughter. I realized a few years ago that we were going to end up sending her to college with only the ability to toast a bagel and boil water for ramen noodles. Now hubby dearest and I make a point to have her come help prepare dinner or bake or something of the like. She seems to enjoy it even at 14. Way to go. You reaffirm that everyday things make their lives better even if only by example. Love it!

  11. Tenille @ Help!Mum

    Yes, Lilly likes to ‘help’. Actually, she likes to look. She drags her pink potty out to the kitchen (it turns into a step) and repeats “I looking!” until I hold the bowl down to her level, or lift her up.

    We’re both much happier when we get to the ‘lick the bowl’ stage.

  12. Diminishing Lucy

    It’s not the cooking or the gardening or even composting of dog poo that they see as fun though, is it? I realise it’s just that they like doing stuff, any stuff, with Mum, as strangely, they see beyond our frustration, and just revel in spending time with us?


  13. Photographer Mum

    How very true – I like to cook with my kids but only one at a time. Having 3 in the kitchen this morning while I was making pancakes was a bit nightmarish. Mr 1 was pulling things out of the drawers and throwing them on the floor and Mr 3 and Miss 4 were arguing over who got to put the flour and milk and egg into the bowl. It really is rather stress inducing and I wonder why I do it. Happens every time.
    But I don’t seem to learn from experience…

  14. asampler

    Well I don’t know why this didn’t get any comments, I related completely. I don’t mind some cooking activities, as long as I’m not in a hurry. But the one that makes me cringe is play-doh. Cannot stand it. And I know what you mean about the gardening – everything has to get dug up & watered, again and again!

  15. joeh

    It’s not just kids.
    If there is no bowl to lick, I’m not helping!

    The Cranky Old Man

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