I always loved baking with my kids, even enjoying the mess while we were making it. I never, however, enjoyed the cleanup. So I was left with the question, "How can I take the stress out of baking with children?"
Many experts think the secret to success is starting with a clean kitchen. But as we all know - if an impromptu baking session is underway - no kid is going to sit around and wait for mom to clean the kitchen.
After many years in the kitchen, I picked up a thing or two about taking the stress out of baking with kids. If you have tips of your own, I'd love to hear them!
Tips for Baking with Children
Let Kids Pick the Recipes
Baking with your kids can be a great bonding experience. Make it even more memorable, and let your kids choose what you'll be baking. If you have multiple children, let them alternate!
Give Age-Appropriate Tasks
Baking can also be a great learning experience. It's the only place where kids can put that fraction education to use! But be mindful of giving kids tasks that are too hard or too easy. Let your 10-year-old have "the good job" of running the mixer, while your 6-year-old can try his hand at measuring ingredients.
Be Patient - This Will Be Messy
You want your kids to walk away with a positive experience, so stop yourself from cringing every time flour lands on the floor. It's a mess - but it's a good mess! (Or at least keep telling yourself that!)
Tips for Kitchen Cleanup with Kids
Prep with Plastic Wrap
Before kneading dough for cookies or bread, lightly dampen the counter with a little bit of water, then roll out plastic wrap to cover the space you'll be using. Sprinkle a gluten-free flour blend on the plastic wrap without going quite all the way to the edge. Then, when you're ready to clean up, you need only roll up the plastic wrap, keeping the flour inside, and throw it away: much less mess than trying to scrub dough off of the counter!
Bonus Tip: Almond flour doesn't work as well for this purpose; coconut flour does fine.
Clean as You Go
Instead of stressing out over a massive mess when you're finished baking, try cleaning as you go. You'll find that you have less of a mess to contend with, which means that you can spend more time giggling with the kids and enjoying your fresh baked goods.
Make Cleaning Fun
When the time comes to stop the baking fun and start the cleanup, many kids transform from smiling angels who have loved every minute of cooking with Mom or Dad to whining, stomping monsters. Instead of starting a fight that has the potential to ruin the entire baking experience, try these strategies for making it fun.
- Set a timer and see what can be accomplished before the timer dings. Can you get the counters scrubbed off? The dishwasher loaded? If you reach your goal, you might just be able to have one of your freshly baked treats!
- Hold a competition. "Who can get their bowl clean the fastest?" "Who can clean up their section of the kitchen first?" If you have more than one child helping you in the kitchen, pit them against each other. Everyone is a winner!
- Sing a silly song or two together while you're cleaning up the kitchen. You'll get smiles and a cleaner kitchen: a win for everyone involved!
Keep Baking Soda and Vinegar Handy
Baking soda and vinegar are an excellent tool for cleaning up messes throughout the kitchen. A little baking soda and vinegar can remove tough, stubborn stains from your counters and stove.
Even better, if someone has put a little bit more of a mess than necessary down the drain, baking soda and vinegar can break it up and move things down the pipes: just shake in some baking soda, then pour vinegar over the top. Not only will this make short work of the clog, but the kids will also love watching that fun, fizzing reaction!
Before you do anything - make sure you do the most important task: eating your treats! Baking with children can be a rewarding experience, and if you teach them right, they'll be baking for you!
Shameless plug: On those days where you need a healthy snack, but just don't have the energy - treat yourself to your favorite flavor of Bobo's bars!