Letting Kids Help With: Grilling

If kids aren't ready to man the grill just yet, there are other ways to involve them.

If kids aren't ready to man the grill just yet, there are other ways to involve them.

Several months ago, we entered this lovely phase with my son wherein he doesn’t want to be out of Mama’s arms. Most times, Daddy was there. Daddy was willing to play with him or hold him. Whatever he wanted, Daddy would’ve done. But he wanted Mama. He wanted to be in on the cooking action, and that meant in my arms.

While cooking — ya know, with flames and knives — this concerned me. (See how good of a mom I am?) Enter the toddler stand as one way we dealt with this. But grilling is a different challenge. You’re inside and outside, in and out. For a while, the weather was nice enough that my son could just follow me in and out. He could see what I was doing from a safe distance and then go play outside.

But for several weeks now in Phoenix, it’s just been way too hot. I don’t want to linger by the grill. And I don’t want my fair-skinned, blond child out there either. Never mind that with the copious amounts of olive oil that I use that there are frequent flare-ups on the grill, so I really don’t want him in my arms while I manage the flame either.

That said, I love to grill — because being outside stinks, but heating up the whole house with the oven isn’t a great option either. So, if you believe in involving kiddos in the kitchen, how do you get them involved in grilling?

There are a few simple ways:

  • Bring them along as you ignite the grill. As my then-1-year-old said when he saw the fire light up beneath the grates, “More! More!”
  • Let them make marinades. My son frequently pours ingredients and stirs the marinade for our chicken and/or veggies.
  • Let them prepare skewers. At the moment, I wouldn’t dare let my child near a skewer. (#goodmom) But as kids get older, stringing veggies on a skewer is good fun for them (and frankly, tedious meal prep you might prefer to avoid yourself).
  • Invite them to season veggies. My son loves sprinkling (scratch that, dumping) salt, pepper and spices on our veggies.
  • Let them wrap foil packets. If you’re doing corn or asparagus or anything else in a foil packet, let your kiddo wrap it up.
  • Ask them to watch the timer. Need someone to tell you when to turn the meat or pull something off the grill? Assign it to a kiddo who needs a task.