Starting from a very young age, our kids are watching us. We know this. They’re mimicking our words and intonations (like when my 2-year-old greets me with a quick, “Hey you”). They’re picking up on our mannerisms and attitudes.
And while kids are around a lot of people (especially if you work), they’re still (probably) around their parents more than anyone. They look up to us. So, the example we set matters. This isn’t a guilt trip, folks. It’s just what it is. It’s what parenthood is.
And we all know that we can tell kids things all day, but in the end, they watch us. You can’t tell your kid to eat broccoli while you shove a brownie in your face. (Which is why I wait until my kid goes to bed.)
Lately, my son wants to “help” with folding towels, with sweeping the floor, with cooking. He doesn’t know these are chores. He doesn’t know (yet) that these aren’t fun.
But seriously ... one of the greatest benefits of cooking with our kids and letting them be a part of the action is helping them learn from an early age that cooking is not a chore. It’s a fact of life — much like going to school. Some days are better than others, but your attitude affects whether it's a good experience overall.
So, you can make cooking seem like something to be dreaded, or you can make it seem like something that is fun — or at the very least, neutral. If we complain about cooking, that’s the model our kids will follow. That’s not to say we can’t admit that some days we're too busy or “just aren’t feelin’ it.” But the overall message around food should be a positive one if we can at all help it.
These days, we’re so time-starved that we can’t fathom spending more than 30 minutes to prepare a weekday meal. And I get it. BIG TIME. But somewhere deep in my child’s brain I want to plant the seed that this is something we’d spend more time on if we could — it’s that enjoyable.