Thanksgiving is full of family, friends and food! With delicious pies and other treats filling the house, it's no wonder so many children try to be underfoot in the kitchen.
Instead of getting frustrated or shooing them away, utilize their excess energy and put your little ones to work.
From setting the table to adding croutons to the salad, there are numerous ways kids can safely help with Thanksgiving prep.
1. Measuring and pouring
No matter how young children are, the kitchen is a great place for them to practice fine-motor coordination, learn math skills, make healthy choices and learn basic cooking techniques.
Yes, kids helping with prep can get a little messy. If you're like us, that may stress you out, especially if it's in your prep and cook area. So make a designated workstation for little ones and keep in mind that some spills (and a little bit of chaos) will probably happen there.
Very young children can watch you measure both dry and wet ingredients. Be sure to explain the sizes you're using such as "tablespoon," and "half a cup." Once you have leveled the ingredients, have your child pour them into the bowl. This is great for counting ("We need four cups"). As kids get older, you can let them scoop and pour the ingredients on their own.
2. Combining and stirring
From brownie batter to mashed potatoes, kids love to help stir ingredients in a bowl. Utilizing various utensils such as whisks and egg beaters are also a great way to teach children methods such as scraping and spreading.
3. Setting the table
If your child already sets the table for dinner, this will be a breeze. If you intend on using more than the standard fork, spoon and knife, by adding a salad fork, soup spoon, etc., then start by setting one place yourself. From there, your child can copy the place setting for the rest of the table.
4. Placing centerpieces
If your child is too young to set the table, have them add the centerpiece or cloth napkins to the table.
5. Filling up water glasses
A great task for school-aged children is filling up water glasses— it's something that needs to be done and is fairly easy. If your child is too young to fill water glasses, have them ask what each person would like to drink.
6. Cleaning up
Although not as fun, teaching children to clean up is a great life skill. You can have them help clear the plates and ask anyone if they'd like coffee or tea. Plus, knowing dessert is close behind is a great incentive!
At a time when things can feel very different and chaotic, giving kids ownership of various tasks can help make the holidays run much smoother.
Whether this means having your child fold napkins or read off the ingredients, kids want to feel a part of the bigger picture. There's no better way to do this than during Thanksgiving. And, you may just be surprised at how helpful your kids really can be!