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The Family that Cooks Together, Stays Together

Slow down and have your children join you in the kitchen!

Sometimes we are so busy we forget what is really important: nourishing our relationships and enjoying our children. Family dinners are a great way to do this, but don’t miss out on another chance to connect together as a family: cooking together.

“Can I taste it?”

“I love eating okra.”

“Mom, what do you think about _____?”

“This was your great-grandmother’s recipe.”

“Keep your fingers curved in, you don’t want to cut them off.”

“Tell me about your day.”

And all these things I or my children have said while we cook.

When I include my children in food preparation, there are so many things that are happening. They are learning cooking skills; I’m sharing family history; we’re spending time together. Plus, cooking is one of those tandem activities that is great for facilitating conversations. Because we are doing something and the focus is on the task, it is very easy for my older children to talk about things that may be too uncomfortable if we were sitting face to face. This is real quality time—unrushed, shared and meaningful.

Sounds great, right? But how do you make it work?

Here are 4 tips to get you started:

  • Schedule it in. We all have busy schedules, and it’s very easy for cooking together to become something that gets put off and never happens. Make a date with your children to make something in the kitchen.
  • Allow enough time. This is particularly important when cooking with younger children. Learning a new skill takes time and you don’t want to rush a child using a sharp knife. Everyone will have more fun if they don’t feel rushed.
  • Try something new. Pick a new food or cuisine to try. You can model adventurous eating and a willingness to learn new things for your children. Plus, you might find a food that you love.
  • Be willing to laugh. Kitchen disasters happen, even to the best of cooks—don’t take them too seriously. It will make your children feel comfortable to try things and you will be modeling healthy ways to deal with frustration.

And remember, if this is a new experience for your family, give it time. As with so many things, it gets better with practice.