While I love to bake and do crafts, I do not love to do them with my children. Yes, go ahead and judge me. I just don’t. Maybe it’s my anxiety, maybe I’m just a control freak, maybe I just need to have a glass (or two) of wine before I start craft projects with my children. Who knows. I do know that I’m not alone in this feeling of “OH MY GOODNESS JUST LET MOMMY DO IT!”. Just check out this post from Jill at Baby Rabies and read through the comments. You’ll see there’s a whole slew of us moms out there. Embrace it.
That being said, I have successfully baked with my kids. They had fun, I had (some) fun, and I did it without gritting my teeth (too much).
Maybe these simple tips for baking with children will help you feel less like you’re on a Martha Stewart-type rage and a little more like June Cleaver after a martini.
1. Choose a recipe without eggs. Yes, this is my #1 tip. Kids want to eat batter. I don’t let mine eat any batter with raw egg in it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat cookie dough by the bowlful, but I have nightmares about giving my kids salmonella. As a compromise, I make egg-free cookies. I find the bribe of a bite of raw cookie dough is enough to get any kid to listen for a few minutes. Check out my Russian Tea Cakes recipe for the perfect egg-free cookie.
2. Cut the recipe in half. Kids will loose interest after 1-2 batches of baking. They don’t want to wait 20 minutes each time for the cookies to bake and scoop again. Don’t drag the process out all day long. This also means don’t pick a recipe which requires chilling dough. Sure, you could use baking as a lesson in patience and “all good things come to those who wait”, but I’m really not that ambitious.
3. Pre-measure the ingredients. Have everything measured and out in bowls. Line the bowls up in order if you’re so inclined so little Johnny knows which order to add the ingredients to the mixer. Yes, baking is a great time to teach your children about measurements and fractions. Good for you if you can make it a math lesson. For me, it’s a lesson in not making mess and following directions. Plus, I’m horrible at math and detest it.
4. Have a distraction prepared for the baking time. We do our Truth in the Tinsel Advent lesson while our batch of cookies were baking. Have them focus on another task, outside of the kitchen, this way they won’t be staring at the timer asking me “Are they done yet?” a million times. They’ll be so focused on the other task, the 20 minute baking time will fly and they’ll be scarfing down a freshly-baked cookie before they know it.
5. Do your important baking after they’re in bed for the night. The cookies made with your kids aren’t for Christmas gifts or a cookie exchange. They are for you. You don’t need to worry if Sally sneezed while rolling the dough out or if the cookies are different sizes. Save the perfectionist baking for the wee hours of the night where you can bake in peace with a glass of wine, Christmas tunes playing, and no one watching you eat spoonfuls of potentially salmonella-laden cookie dough.
There you have it. 5 simple tips for baking with small children without losing your mind. If you still decide to skip making Christmas cookies with your kids, I won’t judge you.