Independent Kids in the Kitchen

As a parent, our job is essentially to make ourselves obsolete. If the ultimate goal is to raise children who are independent and self-sufficient, that means that we parents are no longer necessary.

And I for one am A-OK with this plan!

Even now with small children at home, I try to offer them as many opportunities to be independent as I can.

This is partly due to my desire to raise children who are capable, but also due to my desire to not lose my sh*t on a daily basis.

With three kids and a dog, I feed people all day. ALL DAMN DAY! I fix breakfast, I clean up breakfast, I pour one snack, and then another and another. I fix lunch, I clean up lunch. I continue with the snacks until dinner when I fix another meal and then clean it up yet again.  And somewhere in there I manage to shovel food into my own face as well as throw some down for the dog.

I was feeling like my entire day was spent in the kitchen, and I was tired of constantly being asked to return to the kitchen any time I left to retrieve a snack for someone. Taking snack orders, getting bowls, dishing out crackers or pretzels or goldfish or yogurts was consuming my day and making me crazy!

And I realize as I write this that it seems so insignificant and trivial, but I guarantee that if you spent one day being the “Snack Master” in a house full of kids you would end of dumping a box of Cheerios on the kitchen floor like a trough before 4pm!

So, here’s what I have learned and successfully carried out in my home to help keep the peace and ensure that nobody starves.

  • Put the plastic bowls and kid dishes in a lower cabinet/drawer that the kids can reach

This is HUGE because they are in charge of their bowl or dish when they want something to eat. Think of all the problems this solves: one less step for you when fixing something to eat, everyone is happy with his/her dish because he/she picked it, the kids are now active participants in the meal/snack process. When my kids ask for cereal, I always respond with, “Get a bowl!” Even my youngest who just turned three knows the drill.

  • Put kid friendly snacks in the bottom drawer or shelf of the fridge

The same principal for the dishes applies in the fridge. Put the yogurts, fruit pouches, apples, baby carrots, string cheese and whatever else the kids like to eat where they can reach it. This makes their food easily accessible and allows them the freedom to make their own choice without you having to list off everything in the fridge.

  • Create a basket of pre-portioned snacks for the pantry

This one is going to take a little more effort than moving things around in the kitchen, but trust me, it’s a life-saver! For this one, I open the big bag of pretzels and goldfish and whatever else my kids like and then portion it into small snack bags that the kids can just grab when they want a snack. This takes some time when you load all the bags, but it is worth it on the other end when everything is ready to go and easily accessible.

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Bonus Level:

  • If your kids are older or as they get older, use these same ideas to have them make their own lunch for school. If everything is accessible, they should be able to assemble a lunch with ease. You just may want to set some guidelines and have different categories of food they need to include to make they don’t head to school with Cheetos and a Mountain Dew

My kids aren’t at the lunch making stage quite yet, but we are getting close. But all this extra time that I don’t spend in the kitchen has really allowed me to stay on top of my laundry (Yea right!)

Cheers!

Emily

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