Do you want to raise self-sufficent, productive children? Do the kids need a little boost in self-confidence? Maybe you just want to teach them a new life skill and the importance of helping and pulling their own weight at home? Well, buckle up buttercup! Making dinner can help with all of those things! Put your kids in charge of one meal a week and marvel at the result. You’ll all be so glad you did.
We here in the Morgan family household have goals. Two goals to be exact. The first goal is to rear two productive, responsible human beings who contribute to society in a useful manner. We want our children to be able to think for themselves, speak for themselves and survive on their own in the world in general.
Our second goal, is to milk these two children for all they are worth. The more laundry, house cleaning, cooking, and chores we can get them to take on the better. Fortunately, we think these two goals go hand-in-hand.
Therefore, we the parents, have set a new rule for the summer (and probably into the school year!). Our 10-year-olds are now responsible for dinner. Not every night, just once a week. Why do this? Why put ourselves through the nerve-wrecking process of watching (and trying not to take over) as our pride and joy wield sharp knives, hot pans and boiling water? Well, after a month of trying this challenge on our own, here is what we have learned:
1.Pride and a sense of accomplishment – You know what happens when you let your daughter or your son, make dinner in the kitchen while you sip your cocktail and just watch (and try not to freak out)? Freedom. The little chef of the day has to think for themselves, follow their own directions, do all the work (with some exceptions, we still dump pasta water and pull heavy trays out of the oven) and revel in all of the praise of a job well done. What if they fail, you say? Well, that’s part of it too. Who hasn’t burnt dinner before? I know I have.
2. Eases Picky-Eater Syndrome – I’m not saying that your child will suddenly eat mushrooms because he put it in tonight’s dinner, but we’ve noticed much cleaner plates from even the pickiest in our family when it’s her turn to cook. Even when her brother cooks, she is very supportive and eats most everything.
3. Increased Camaraderie – I don’t know about your kids but sometimes my kids give each other a hard time and I was worried that some smart-alec comment would come out of someone’s mouth about the other sibling’s dinner. But, so far, we have heard nothing but encouragement from each of them whenever dinner is served. Now, I can’t speak for your kids, but mine have really supported each other. I would say that if you have one particularly snarky child, then they should be the very first to start the challenge.It can be a humbling experience.
4. They Cook Breakfast, too – This wasn’t expected at all. Once the kids (especially our son) had a couple dinners under his belt he caught the cooking bug! He’s been making his own bacon and eggs and toast for breakfast for weeks now. He’s learning the art of the omelet and has even ventured into the lunch world with some Mini Bagel Pizzas. Shoot, I’m not complaining!
So where did this idea come from? Well, it’s certainly not our original idea. My grandmother, for instance, was in charge of all family meals by the time she was 12, and children throughout the millennia have been expected to contribute to feeding the family. But in more recent times, I have been inspired by the book, Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12- month Experiment to rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. and also the article, 8 Things Kids Need to Do By Themselves Before They’re 13.
Here are the guidelines that we have given our two 10 year olds for the #KidsMakeDinner Challenge. Feel free to change these up however you feel you need to for your brood.
- Each child must cook dinner for the family once a week.
- That child must find a recipe on their own that is suitable for the whole family and their skill level.
- The recipe must be approved by parents.
- The recipe must be different every week.
- The child must make the grocery list for their entire meal and have it turned in to Mom by the end of the previous week. (I do our shopping on Sunday, so I require that I have the list before then)
- While a parent will be available as a sous chef (i.e. helping with advanced chopping, help with ovens, etc.) the child will be required to do the majority of the work involved with dinner.
- The child that cooks dinner, does not have to do the dishes.
Are you ready to put your kids up to the challenge? We would love to see your kids in action! You can post to our Facebook page with your #KidsMakeDinner pictures or tag us on Instagram and use the hashtag #KidsMakeDinner.
We will be sharing your pics all summer!
And here are a few ideas to inspire your little chef to make a delicious dinner!