Scene 1: Pristine kitchen. Loving, patient mom in heels and clean Christmas apron smiling down on darling Susie identically dressed sans heels. (Dad, of course, is dressed in a suit, at work to which he drove his big Buick.) Cinnamon scents the air. Rolling pin, cookie cutters and decorative sugars lined up in perfect rainbow sequence are on counter. Puppy sleeping in his bed near the back door.
Scene 2: Sugar crystals crunching underfoot. Mom and Susie both crying; mom saying something about salmonella and don’t feed the dog any more dough. Big glass being used as both rolling pin AND cookie cutter.
Before vs after? Movie vs reality? Come on people. Baking with your kids, no matter how well intentioned, isn’t going to result in a Martha Stewart centerfold.
Three realistic thoughts on baking with your kids:
- Lower your expectations. If you’re baking with a 3 year old, your baking results will look like a 3 year old did it. If you’d like cookbook-worthy creations, feel free to bake alone, with your patient artistic best friend or buy them from the catalogue or neighborhood bakery.
- Pick a time of day when neither you nor the kids are typically cranky. If that time has not yet been discovered, bake alone, with your patient artistic friend…
- Just like you do in every other phase of your child’s life, think age-appropriate. Perhaps the 3 year old could break apart pre-made dough and put them on a cookie sheet while your 5 year old might be able to use a knife to slice that roll of dough…
PS In “our younger days” we would putter with bowls and pans, we’d measure, squish the dough with our hands, eat the sprinkles and then enjoy a nap. Then, awaken to a fresh bowl of commercially made dough that we would roll out…shhh, I still haven’t told him!