I’m not sure where the idea of “breakfast in bed” started. Perhaps in some imagined past where all the servants in Downtown Abbey got up at 5 am to make sure the Mrs. had her poached eggs before getting dressed for the day.
The one time I managed to get my breakfast served to me in bed it was really hard to enjoy it while balancing the tray precariously on my lap. Then I spilled the orange juice onto my comforter. It was not relaxing. The toast got cold.
So, let’s dispense with this idea for Mother’s Day. Maybe your family can pull it off, but I don’t even want to ask my husband and 6-year-old daughter to try this year. This Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th) why not make breakfast together as a family?
Through our programs at The Sylvia Center, we encourage families to cook together. Young people who are involved with meal preparation at home are more likely to eat a larger variety of healthful foods. We also know that making food at home is way more affordable. And when kids are in the kitchen, they are reinforcing learning from many different areas -- literacy, math, science, and more.
Getting in the kitchen with your kids can be a lot of fun. It is an opportunity to do something together and build your relationship. You can share your favorite tastes and textures with each other, tell family food stories, and make something that feeds your heart and bellies.
However, cooking with children can be challenging. Kids who are just starting out need a lot of help staying on task and staying safe. Older kids may want mom or dad completely out of the way. And getting dinner on the table on a weeknight is often hectic as it is; it may not the best time to experiment in the kitchen.
I believe the best time to start cooking with kids is on a lazy Sunday morning. Hopefully, everyone is well-rested and you have a few hours to work together before your afternoon activities. The Sylvia Center has some tips for making the time with your children in the kitchen more joyful by simply adding a little more planning into your meal prep.
TSC Tips for Cooking with Your Kids:
1. Adjust for Age: Planning ahead can set everyone up for success. Be sure to select a recipe with a difficulty level and length appropriate for the age of your children. For younger kids, recipes that involve mostly measuring, mixing and baking are good choices. Older children can learn how to hold a knife safely to chop ingredients. Save the sauteing and frying for young people who have demonstrated they can be trusted to follow directions and be safe. Keep it simple at first, then introduce new ingredients and recipes as they build their skills.
2. Keep It Low-Key: Spills happen. Your own attitude is what will make or break it with your kids. Remember the point is to have fun so they want to do it again. Your child won’t have fun if you’re tense about spilled flour or yelling about their fingers in the honey. Keep it light and keep it moving. You can prep all of your ingredients before your young child even enters the kitchen. I know I get annoyed trying to locate the cinnamon in the back of the cabinet, so I do it before I invite my daughter into the kitchen.
3. Creative Control: I like to cook recipes where my daughter gets to choose some of the ingredients to her taste, like an omelette or our Mix and Match Breakfast Bars. It is a good way to tempt them to try new foods or express their preferences. You are collaborating with your child, so this is not your Julia Child moment. Let them make it their own with your help.
4. Learning Connections: Cooking together is a great way to reinforce some of the concepts they are learning in school. Younger children can practice fine motor skills and doing things in sequence. First graders can reinforce emerging reading and math skills. Those measuring cups are great ways to talk about fractions. Older kids can help make shopping lists, explain why the salt and the baking soda are needed for a recipe, or make adjustments to the recipe, like doubling measurements. Again, keep it light. Don’t make it like school. Let your shared curiosity be your guide.
So this Mother’s Day, get into the kitchen with your family.
To start off, I suggest trying this Mix and Match Breakfast Bar recipe. It can be adjusted for all skill levels and tastes, and it is quick. You can even eat it in bed if you don’t mind oatmeal crumbs on your sheets.
My daughter and I have been trying out different breakfast bar recipes on Sundays for the last few months. We don’t always get a chance to cook together during the week, so this is our day to be in the kitchen. It also solves a problem. It ensures we’ve got a tasty homemade breakfast all week.
This Mix & Match Bar Recipe is our favorite basic bar recipe. It is crispy, crunchy and a sweet start that will last you until lunch. She loves the Honey Nut Bar variation, and my favorite is the Double Chocolate Pepita Bar. You and your kid can figure out which one you like best. And when you do, please tag us on Instagram or Facebook. We would love to see what you come up with as a family. So, get cooking!