The kitchen is where we spend a lot of time cooking and bonding with our loved ones, so everyone should feel welcomed there. However, when you want to try out that booming vegan milk chocolate recipe, you’ll want to entertain kids while cooking so that the sweets don’t vanish before you even finish making them!
The easiest thing to do would be to turn on your kids’ favorite show, but many studies show that too much screen time is far from beneficial – children may struggle to stay focused, their attention span can diminish, and they may become aggressive. That’s why you should be careful in what activities you engage your kids, when you want to keep them occupied.
5 Ways to Entertain Kids While Cooking Dinner
It would be best to involve your children in activities that boost their creativity and might spark love for cooking and baking in them. If you want to find some inspirations, below you will find five non-virtual ways to distract or entertain kids while cooking.
Involve Them in the Process
Nothing brings your kids more fun and mental gratification than letting them help you with the cooking process. It may get chaotic, and one or two eggs will most probably land on the floor, but it will encourage the kids to learn the necessary kitchen skills, and the memories you create together will be unforgettable!
You can create a separate “working station” where your little ones can do essential tasks, like peeling the bananas, cracking up the eggs, and slicing up other ingredients (make sure to buy a few plastic knives in advance). This way, you will occupy your child throughout the whole cooking process and keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn the house down when you as much as look in the other direction.
Create a Kid’s Play Kitchen
Buying or creating a kid’s play kitchen is a great idea to help kids stay focused on playtime for at least 30 minutes, when you prepare the meal and steal some “me time” for yourself. Kids love mimicking adults. After all, this is how they learn social behaviors, but cooking can take twice as much time with their help.
Build a kid’s play kitchen in the living room or backyard. While you cook the main dish, they can prepare a simple dessert made from crackers, strawberries, and whipped cream (make sure to buy lots of sprinkles and sweet decorations to occupy their time for longer!). You can alternatively engage your kid in a board game. Later, the whole family can enjoy the delicious and creative full-blown menu.
Make Them the CEOs of Unloading the Groceries
Another great way of keeping your kids occupied without virtual devices is to ask them to carry in and unload the groceries. The ingredients are the most crucial aspect of any meal, so make this activity a BIG deal. After all, bringing the groceries in is only half of the success. Later, they have to put things away in an appropriate order, separate veggies from fruits, and make sure any dairy products go into the fridge.
By asking your child to put groceries away, you set an example to them, that the kitchen and the pantry should be kept clean and organized. In the meantime, you can start chopping the veggies and prepare the meal without any curious hands grasping everything there is on the kitchen counter.
Give Them Some Snacks
When you want to cook something quickly after you bring your children from classes, prepare a few healthy snacks they can hang on to while you prepare the meal. It shouldn’t be anything too fulfilling, as you want them to eat their nutritious meal, but a pack of crackers, sliced pears with ricotta cheese, or a trail mix will be perfect.
If your kids have online classes, having a few snacking options can also help to keep them engaged in the schoolwork. All you have to do is tell them that if they pay attention and follow the teacher, you will make a small picnic with a snack during the break. The key is to show that the reward is a fun family activity, and not just a pack of gummy bears.
Let Them Set the Table
Letting the children set the table is the perfect option for the parents to take a well-deserved few minutes of rest between school and mealtime. While you are preparing the food, why not let your kids handle the table? If you decide to do so, prepare a set of plastic plates and cups to prevent potential tragedies.
A day before, you can show them a video about which fork and spoon go where and try to keep the lunch or dinner atmosphere a bit fancy. This way, children will get 100% engaged in making the table look its best and spend a lot of time on it (which is exactly what we want to accomplish). To make it more special, you can all drink juice from “adult” champagne glasses and dress up!
How To Help Kids Stay Occupied Without Screen Time?
Cooking with your kids is a perfect way to create important memories full of laughter and joy. It is also an ideal time for your children to learn basic kitchen skills and responsibility. But the truth is that, sometimes, all you have is a few minutes to cook something up quick, and the kitchen basics education process is the last thing on your mind.
For those times, it might come in handy to try out a few non-virtual ways to let your kids stay focused and occupied while you run the kitchen. The key is to let the parents do their job while involving the kids in something different than social media or screen time. It’s the real-world activities and experiences that let our children’s brains absorb the knowledge and skills like a kitchen sponge!
If you prefer to keep an eye on them, you might engage them in slicing the veggies or mixing up the ingredients. In case you prefer the small chefs to stop following your every step and be in your hair – set up a play kitchen and let your kids get creative with the dessert. The opportunities are endless.