practical parenting: a dinner time apprentice

{Pasta making lesson from Dad and I have no idea what is going on with Liberty's hair!}

Over the years I have discovered that one of the most common times when things get destroyed around my home is when I am preparing and cooking dinner. As I am busy chopping and cutting up food and watching pots and pans, my cherubs are often off getting into things they should not be. It is almost as if they have planned and waited all day for me to be busy in the kitchen so they can get into that drawer or cupboard they have been dreaming about all day!

So to help overcome this little problem I started to always cook dinner with a dinner time apprentice. My apprentice normally was the child I knew would get into the most trouble {normally the youngest at the time!} and they would become my special assistant in the kitchen. On really bad days I would have several special apprentices helping me in the kitchen. 

You know the days that I am talking about, where everyone is tired, where no matter what you do, it is not going to run smoothly. I would have all my cherubs lined up along my kitchen bench with a job to do and even though it would take me twice as long to get dinner ready, it would bring a much nicer feeling into our home. 

I found it a wonderful opportunity to praise them for their efforts, to teach them to share, to help them be patient while they are waiting for the next person to do what they need to do and a way for them to serve our family. It also started a new family tradition where over dinner we say things like, 'Thank you Harmony for the wonderful potatoes' or 'Thank you Sam for the salad you made'.

All of my children have been a dinner time apprentice. They know how to be careful when using a knife, how to chop vegetables, how peel potatoes and carrots, how to mix food in a bowl, how to crack an egg, how to be careful with mixing hot food items, how to mash vegetables and how to sneak taste tests when I am not looking :)

Lucky for me I have a husband that also loves to cook. He often will decide to do some baking {bless him!} and will grab several children to help him out. They love helping him out in the kitchen and some of their fondest memories are cooking with Matt. He has taught them how to make bread, ham and cheese rolls, pasta, cinnamon rolls and pancakes just to name a few.

I know it requires a little more effort and planning to have a dinner time apprentice and some days you just want to do the cooking by yourself, but it has been a great blessing to our family and now that my kids are older, they still love coming to help me cook in the kitchen. I think it really is because they love all the praise they get at the dinner table!