Making dinner for the entire family is an endless chore that can sometimes be a hassle, especially if you’re a parent who has to handle it on your own each and every night.
And yes, it would be fabulous if your kids automatically offered a helping hand, but that’s not always something that will happen, especially if your little ones think of helping mommy with chores as a burden.
But don’t fret, mama! There are plenty of ways to change your kid’s perception while also getting you the help that you need when it comes time to start planning dinner.
Here are seven problems you might be facing when it comes to recruiting little sous chefs as well as ways to get your whole family involved in making dinner so the burden doesn’t fall 100% on you every single night of the week.
The Problem: They Think It's Boring
Your kids might not consider stirring up ingredients, chopping up vegetables, and frying up food as their idea of fun, and, to be honest, it may not be as exciting as their video games or favorite shows. But it also doesn’t have to be a tedious task that they dread each day.
The Solution: Make It a Game
Make dinner preparation more exciting by making it a game. Pretend you’re on a cooking reality show and that each dish you make will eventually be judged by a panel of picky judges. Or set up races that will have your kids competing to see who can finish up first. Of course, keep it safe, so maybe create races around mixing or assembling and not anything that involves knives or heat.
The Problem: They're Tired
Parents aren’t the only ones who are worn out at the end of the day. Kids also burn plenty of energy while they’re off at school and participating in other activities, which may leave them feeling too tired to help you out when it comes to making dinner.
The Solution: Put on Some Music To Pep Them Up
Give the entire family a boost by putting on music while you prepare dinner. Choose upbeat songs that get you grooving while you’re cooking to keep things lively. Perhaps even come up with a dinner prep playlist made up of your family’s favorite energy-inducing tunes.
The Problem: They're Not Motivated
Lacking energy is one thing; lacking motivation is another problem on its own. It can be hard to pique your kids’ interest in something that they see as mundane, and ending up with a delicious and nutritious meal isn’t always enough of a payoff to spark the needed sense of accomplishment.
The Solution: Create a Points-and-Rewards System
Most of us find it easier to become motivated about something if there’s a reward to look forward to. While you don’t necessarily want to bribe your children to help, there’s nothing wrong with teaching them that if they work hard, it will pay off in the end.
Create a system where your kids earn points for each night that they help out or for every task they help out with when it comes to putting together dinner. When they’ve gathered enough or hit a certain mark that you’ve predetermined, then they earn a reward — perhaps a present or a special night out at a restaurant.
The Problem: They're Not Inspired
If you’re the type of person who finds themselves in a menu-planning slump every once in a while, then you know what it’s like to need a little extra spark to get you going. It can be hard to get your children involved in making dinner if they’re uninspired. Just like with any project, it’s difficult to care about something if you have no ideas to contribute.
The Solution: Let Them Pick Some Meals To Make
Spark their inspiration by letting them pick some of the meals that you’ll make. Let them scan Pinterest for delicious-looking dishes, or take them to the grocery store to simply let them stroll through the aisles to get a few ideas. Chances are that they’ll be much more excited to tackle a recipe if it’s something that they’ve come up with on their own.
The Problem: They’re Uninterested
Beyond being uninspired, your family members may simply be uninterested in helping you out in the kitchen. And while you could obviously make it something that you force them to do, it would be great if they’d be eager to join you in the kitchen when it was time to make dinner.
The Solution: Introduce New and Mysterious Foods
You’ll probably notice that your kids follow you right into the kitchen if you bring something mysterious home from the grocery store. Introduce a new and enticing ingredient with your dinner recipe and your family will be eager to check it out. They’ll likely be volunteering to be the one to peel, chop, and, of course, taste-test the intriguing element.
The Problem: You All Have Different Schedules
Most of us are busy with our modern lives, which is why you’d undoubtedly like some help when it comes to preparing dinner. But your family’s jam-packed and conflicting schedules can also make it difficult to get everyone together at the same time to make a meal.
The Solution: Everyone Can Take on Tasks That Suit Their Schedules
Preparing dinner together doesn’t necessarily mean that each family member has to be in the kitchen at the same time. If your kids get home from school before you’re done with work, then have them wash and prep the vegetables or set up the slow cooker when they first get home, and you can take over when you arrive.
The Problem: They're Nervous Around Kitchen Dangers
If your children are on the younger side, they may be a little wary around certain aspects of cooking. There’s a good chance — especially if they’re quite young or inexperienced — that they’ll be nervous when it comes to using sharp knives or the searing hot stovetop.
The Solution: Give Everyone Age-Appropriate Tasks
Give your children tasks that are age-appropriate. Little ones can do the mixing and pouring. Adults and teenagers can handle dinner-related duties that involve anything that’s heavy, sharp, or burning hot. However, being in the kitchen with your kids is also a great time to teach your children how to properly and safely handle the more precarious parts of preparing a meal.
Ask Your Family
Also, be sure to ask your family what you all can do to make preparing dinner together easier and more fun. Explain to your kids that while making meals is a necessary chore, it’s also something that you can enjoy together if you all put in a little effort.