My girls LOVE to help me in the kitchen. They beg to crack the eggs, stir the batter, wash the vegetables. . .you name it, they want to do it. I struggle with letting them help because, I’ll be honest. I HATE MESSES. Hate. And kids helping cook on any level will inevitably lead to a mess.
My aversion to messes borders on pathological. I usually manage not to actually cry over spilled milk, but I promise you I’ve come close. It takes me hours to work up the nerve to pull out finger paints, even if their use is limited to the table. . .and don’t even get me STARTED on the evil substance known as Play-Doh. EEK.
I’m also a bit of a control freak about the kitchen. One Thanksgiving I had a stomach virus and my husband did all the hands-on stuff in the kitchen for our contribution to a meal at a friends house the following day. I had to sit in a chair in the dining room and give instructions and several times he had to shoo me back out of the room because the kitchen is just my domain. I love to cook. I love to experiment. And I love to control allthethings that happen there.
So what does a mama on a journey to embracing imperfections as a part of changing her style of parenting do when the littles ask to help? Grit her teeth, take deep breaths and dive in. It takes everything within me to let go enough to allow it. But I’m hoping it gets easier with practice. Today, they helped me make protein bars, meatballs for dinner and gluten free muffins. And I’ll admit, Melody actually did a decent job of mixing all the ingredients together for the muffins. . .a part of the process I don’t really like doing myself. At 8, she’s likely getting old enough to learn to do a little more in the kitchen if she wants to.
So my one small change this week is going to be to find something, even if it’s small, that the girls can help me with each night at dinner. Building the emotional muscles to handle the messes of childhood will probably be a skill that will help me relax a lot more as they grow.
And honestly? The mess in the kitchen after our cooking time today really wasn’t so bad. I’ve already cleaned it up. And now I’m off to eat some delicious muffins. =)