The following post is from contributing writer Janelle.
I am the type of person who doesn’t like anyone in my kitchen. I have things the way I want them, I know where things belong, and I just feel comfortable there. I don’t like to be tripping over other people in my kitchen, as my husband can attest to when he tries to help me.
But lately I have begun to realize how important it is to allow my children to “help” in the kitchen.
Kayla loves to cook, bake, and create things in the kitchen, but my default response had always been to do things myself, rather than let her help. Less mess, less stress. Then, a few months ago, I came to the realization that she has to learn some time, and what better place for her to make her first mistakes than in the kitchen with mom?
Especially for gluten-free kids, or kids who have other dietary restrictions, it is so crucial that they learn, and learn young, to put together foods that are not only edible, but delicious and healthy.
Kayla has such a need to be creating, and I want to foster that and channel it into resourcefulness and creativity in the kitchen. If my job is to train her for her future life (which of course I hope will not involve me coming over and cooking for her when she is on her own), then of course she needs to learn to do things herself.
In the grocery store, I have begun involving her with reading labels. Once they can read, it is never too early to begin training our kids to read labels. Already she has learned the value of a very short label (fewer ingredients)! Hopefully this will grow into learning how to make healthy and frugal choices in the store, and then being able to bring those items home and make something healthy and delicious from them!
In addition, at least once a week, I make a concerted effort to cook a particular item with Kayla. Sometimes it’s a savory meal, like a soup or stew, sometimes it’s a dessert. My hope is that she will get familiar with lots of different types of naturally gluten-free foods and how they work together, so that when she is on her own she will be able to nourish herself healthfully rather than be forced into purchasing over-priced specialty foods.
Janelle is mom to 2 sweet girls, one of whom is celiac, and the other showing signs of gluten intolerance.