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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Nannies4hire.com.
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Cooking with Kids for the Holidays

Cooking and baking with your kids during the holidays can be a fun (or stressful) activity.  How you plan for the activity will, in large part, set the stage for how the activity will be experienced.  Following are some tips for making the experience enjoyable for all involved.

  1. Choose recipes that are easy to follow and have no more than 10 ingredients.
  2. Choose recipes that are no-fail recipes (peanut butter cookies are fairly fail-safe, quiches are not).
  3. Choose preparation techniques that allow for creativity (i.e., decorating a cookie or a gingerbread house).
  4. Set all sharp objects (e.g., knives) beyond the reach of the kids.
  5. Have all necessary tools and ingredients out and ready to go before the children begin the shared task.  Necessary tools include not only measuring cups and spoons, but also step stools or other tools to help your kids comfortably reach food preparation surfaces.
  6. If possible, have photographs of the finished product available for the children to see.
  7. Ensure that the kids have eaten before the cooking or baking begins.  (Things go much more smoothly this way.  Really.)
  8. Ensure that you and the kids are dressed appropriately for this adventure.  Messes will happen.  So, appropriate clothing and perhaps an apron will go a long way toward reducing mess-related stress.
  9. If you or your kids have long hair, it’s best to pull the hair back in a pony tail so as not to get hair in the food.
  10. If you have chosen an ethnic food to prepare, then you can take the opportunity to educate your children about the culture, the language, the country, and the customs associated with the food that you will be preparing.  Visual aids (maps, photographs of people in indigenous costumes, etc.) are fun and educational tools to use during the activity.

Once you begin your shared adventure, there are tips to make the activitychild-cooking1 fun and safe.

  1. Ensure that your children know what tools are safe for them to use (wooden spoons, plastic measuring cups, etc.) and what tools are to be handled by grown-ups only (stove, oven, knives, etc.).
  2. Orient your kids to the adventure you’ll be embarking on and give them expectation of what is to come.
  3. Ensure that each of you wash your hands before food preparation begins.
  4. Help your child learn to read by assisting them with reading the recipe card.
  5. Turn all pan handles toward the center of the stove top.
  6. Praise the children often for steps taken correctly.  Redirect errors tenderly, and be flexible as not all errors need to be corrected.  (Some of the best recipes came about by error.)

Once the baking is done, you and your children can set about the task of storing the prepared food items and cleaning up the kitchen.  Involving your kids in these follow-up activities teaches them responsibility and the importance of proper food storage and cleanliness.

From everyone at Nannies4hire.com, we wish you a very happy holiday season!

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