3 Great Kid Jobs To Actually HELP With Christmas Baking
For years, my kids have been asking to help in the kitchen. When they were truly little, I could get away with giving them fake jobs like organizing the tupperware cabinet, or handing me silverware. But, as they got older, it became harder to find them jobs that wouldn’t result in long delays or huge messes. As a mom, I know I’m supposed to encourage their helpful streak and stop to teach them. And I do. But sometimes, Mommy just needs to get stuff done.
This year, it seemed like the Christmas season was put on fast-forward. I don’t know if it was a result of our recovery from Hurricane Sandy and the 10-day power outage she left in her wake, or what. All I know is that I blinked and I’m behind on all of my Christmas tasks.
When I set up to do my Christmas baking, I cringed when all three kids saw the ingredients laid out and all begged to help.
Just as I was thinking of excuses or ways to distract them, my first grade son asked, “Hey, can I crush the candy canes?”
I unwrapped the candy canes and put them in three sandwich size zipper bags. Then each went into a quart size zipper bag, and then finally, a gallon-size zipper bag. After I had ensured no candy cane crumbs could escape, I armed my kids with a rubber mallet, a soup can and a wooden rolling pin.
They went smashing crazy. I heard many exclamations of, “I’m gonna WRECK IT!!” and had a blast doing it. I had to send them to the concrete floor in the basement after a while, out of fear for my ceramic tiles. But I will tell you this. They accomplished one of the most tedious tasks of my process. Now I could make my white chocolate peppermint bark without having to do the crushing myself. Sweet!
Candy Crusher — an excellent job for any age helper!
Thinking that tired them out, I started on my chocolate chip and chocolate peanut butter chip cookies. My sons lost interest and went to play Wii, but my daughter stayed close. I measured the ingredients, but she helped by pouring each ingredient in its proper bowl when asked and handing me any out-of-reach utensil I required.
Kitchen Gopher is a fantastic job for any preschool kitchen helper. (I didn’t think it was okay to refer to my 4 year old as my “kitchen bitch,” but I leave that totally up to your own discretion.)
The final kid job came as an utter surprise to me. My little video game junkies with selective hearing heard the timer go off on the first batch of chocolate chip cookies and raced upstairs from the basement, begging to help. My oldest grabbed the spatula before I even had a chance to warn him to be careful and scooped the hot cookies off the baking sheet and moved them to the cooling rack. He didn’t drop a crumb!
I thought it was the fact that he’s eight now that made him so helpful, but then both my seven-year-old and four-year-old grabbed different spatulas and tucked into the job with such efficiency, all I could do was stand back and watch. Sure, a few cookies fell in the process, but that’s the whole purpose of a “mess-up plate.” Losing 5 or 6 cookies out of 360 was acceptable, and the helpers don’t mind eating pieces of the kitchen floor.
Before I knew it, every cookie was where it should be. They dropped their spatulas and ran off to play more Wii with a directive for me to call them when the next batch was done. Time after time, they came in, performed their cookie task and actually HELPED me!
Cookie Coolers was my favorite job. For as small as my kitchen is, the three of them managed to avoid one another and help without fighting.
Believe it or not, I am now convinced that kids can be helpful and actually productive in the kitchen. I was so impressed with them, that I lavished praise on them during dinner that night.
Sitting around the table, I mentioned how tired I was from a day spent in the kitchen. My middle child responded.
“Why are YOU tired? We did all the work!”