Rainbow wants so very badly to help me cook. I have a gate barring access to the kitchen. 90% of the time if I am cooking she is at the gate begging me to let her come in and help.
I do let her help sometimes. I should probably let her help more often. I feel guilty, but everything takes ten times longer with her “helping”. I usually don’t start on dinner until after my husband gets home and can help with keeping an eye on the baby, so I’m working within a time limit. I also have a very small kitchen. I like it that way. Heck it was one of the deciding features for picking this house.
The problem is there really isn’t anywhere for Rainbow to safely be in my wee kitchen. She ends up smack in the middle of the room. I’m constantly stepping over her. Since she can’t reach the counter we end up assembling dinner on the kitchen floor. Seriously. Putting together a roast on the kitchen floor. And having to shoo the damn cat out of the way.
I end up giving her “make work” tasks. Like while I was peeling the parsnips for the roast, I gave her the bag of mini carrots and let her place them one by one in the roast pan. I give her cloves of garlic to peel. I sometimes let her help measure stuff, or pour things into the mixing bowl. That usually gets pretty messy though. She loves to stir things. But again, messy!
I feel badly because not only am I giving her silly make work to do, but she also seems to be catching on. She wants to “really cook”.
I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I don’t want to discourage her. I want her to want to help, I want her to learn. I also want her to be safe. I’m not letting my three year old near the stovetop. And then there’s the mess/annoyance factor. I feel badly when she’s at the gate begging to be let in the kitchen, but sometimes I just want to cook in peace. I just want to get through getting dinner ready, get it over with, and not add another 30 minutes to the process.
Does anyone have suggestions for things she can help with? Some easy kid recipes? Or do you think that at three she is just too young?