When you’ve got kids, keeping your kitchen clean and tidy takes enough effort without letting the little into the thick of the action. As anyone who’s ever done baby led weaning knows, your daily routine of a quick clean down of all the surfaces suddenly takes considerably longer when it involves scraping bits of food off the walls and table legs too. However, when you balance the potential mess, carnage and clear up time against the very real lifelong benefits that arise out of encouraging kids to get involved in cooking, sometimes you just have to accept the consequences, roll up your sleeves and get those rolling pins rolling!
If you’d like to make your kitchen area a bit more kid friendly so that young ones can join you in the kitchen either to relax, observe and learn or take part in food prep, here are just a few ideas for making the hub of your home a more welcoming space for the whole family. From safety features to quirky extras, let’s get started…
When it comes to accidents in the home, the kitchen is perhaps the biggest danger zone. According the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (ROSPA), there are 67,000 accidents involving children in kitchens every year, 43,000 of which involve children and infants aged four years or younger. With very small children, observing what you’re doing in the kitchen from the safety of a high chair is a great start to learning about what we eat. It gives them the opportunity to learn the names of food and how they are prepared, and it’s far safer than potentially tripping over a toddler underfoot.
If you’re starting to safety proof your space for when your kids begin to roam, create your own checklist of dangers to fix. It’s likely to include putting knives and other dangerous equipment in a locked drawer out of reach. Cleaning and everyday items like laundry capsules should also be safely stored out of the way. Remember, sometimes putting things up high isn’t enough as clever toddlers can grab climbing aids in seconds! Dangers that may be less obvious include wires for bench top appliances like kettles and toasters, which should be tucked out of reach. Better still; swap your kettle for a cordless. When you’re cooking, it’s good to get into the habit of tidying potential hazards as you go, such as using pans at the back of the hob and keeping handles out of reach. You’ll find some great tips on the ROSPA website.
Are you one of the 64% of parents who regularly cook with their children or would you like to become one of them? Involving youngsters in the growing, preparation and serving of food can help them become more interest in what they eat. It can also help counter pickiness and gift them the skills and information they need to follow healthier diets later in life. Now, that’s worth a bit of extra cleaning, right? To help family cooking adventures to go as smoothly as possible, there are some easy adaptations and additions you can make in the kitchen. A purpose built child’s baking stand complete with lower level bench and safe to use tools makes a great kitchen or birthday gift. Alternatively, you could try a kids’ kitchen step with cleared surfaces or even use a clean PVC mat and join your little one on the floor.
Blend Your Space
An increasingly popular way to familiarise children with what goes on in the kitchen is to create a family space adjacent to or blended with your kitchen. This way, the children can see what you’re cooking and you can keep an eye on them while you’re making a delicious dinner. By being on hand for the action, they’ll hopefully have more awareness of the effort that goes into mealtimes also. You could furnish the area with a small sofa and TV that you can switch off at mealtimes and maybe a table for doing homework on too but toys are best left out of the kitchen completely, no one wants to trip over Lego when they’re getting stuff out of the oven! If you’re not keen on food smells drifting through the home, sliding internal bifolds like these will let you retain a watchful eye over your offspring while they chill out, without scents like fish spreading and lingering.
Add Insta-fun Features
Let’s be honest, a family kitchen that sees plenty of action isn’t going to look Pinterest-worthy all the time. However, like the baking benches mentioned above, you could try these Insta-impressive ideas to inspire your children:-
- A children’s table. While it’s great to dine as a family so you all have time to catch up after a busy day, when children have friends over, having their own little table and chairs can make them feel like the hosts with the most.
- A menu plan/blackboard. If you want to get kids excited about meal times, what better way then letting them know when they’ll be eating their favourite meals? If you’ve got some little cooks in the making, they’ll love to know what they’re helping out with too.
- Apron hooks. If you’re a fan of matching outfits for all, named cooking aprons for each family member stored on little hooks or a stand are an absolute must.
- A windowsill garden. Growing produce to eat can really help children become more interested in food, nutrition and nature. Whether you’ve room for a mini herb garden or a lone pot of cress, it’s a start.
How kid friendly is your kitchen? What changes or additions would you make if you could?