By Jayme Sherrod | @jaymesherrod
A small, flour-covered apron adorns the gleeful child as they work with their mom to finish baking the final dozen cookies for this year’s holiday party. The magazine photo looks magical. It feels inspiring. It seems fun. Yet, if you’ve ever invited your child to the kitchen to bake – or enthusiastically accepted their request to bake – you may have found out that the magic can be fleeting and the cleanup is pretty fierce.
Full transparency – I love to bake alone, and I find moderate to high levels of enjoyment in baking with my three-year-old. Our baking began during the pandemic as an opportunity for something (anything!) to do at home, and just as my son has grown and evolved in the past year and a half, so has my knowledge in how to approach his continuous requests to bake.
The most important strategy for me is to look to The Lazy Genius, Kendra Adachi, and Name What Matters about the experience – for both myself and for my child. For those of you who find yourselves shoulder to shoulder with your child, whisk in hand, ready to bake, something inside brought at least one of you there, and this is where naming what matters can help make the baking experience much more enjoyable for all.
So working under this framework, let’s talk through some scenarios and devise a plan to make the most of baking with your kids this holiday season!
It Matters To You That The Final Product Is Edible
This is probably not the time to bring out the 25-step cake recipe. Choose a simple recipe that has some wiggle room for error. Also consider pre-measuring the ingredients into small cups or bowls before inviting your child to the kitchen. This will decrease the harrowing probability of adding a tablespoon of baking powder instead of a teaspoon.
It Matters To Your Child That They Can Stir The Batter/Roll The Dough/Lick the Whisk/Put The Tray In The Oven/Do Whatever Activity They Like Best
If your child is the one requesting to bake, take some time to talk with them about what parts they enjoy the most. Then, choose together which of those activities you will absolutely reserve for them in the process. This allows you to have control over most of the experience, while highlighting what matters most to them.
It Matters To You That Your Child Learns The Family Recipe
Push this baking experience to January or February! The holiday season brings with it many pressures, so trying to ensure your child can navigate the family recipe in the coming years may only make things more stressful. Bringing out a holiday baking recipe during the quiet month of February may be all it takes to capitalize on the nostalgia and your child’s ultimate retention.
It Matters To Your Child That They Can Decorate
If this is the case, forget the baking part! Either you bake the cookies before or hit the store and buy a dozen delicious, undecorated sugar cookies. There may be a mess after the icing and sprinkles come out, but you’ve avoided the almost inevitable dropped cup of flour beforehand.
It Matters To You or Your Child That You Get Quality Time Together
If you or your child isn’t fully invested in (or mentally prepared for!) this baking experience, consider another activity that is a little less rigid! There are so many opportunities to have incredible quality time with your kids that don’t require a final product.
Happy baking, mama! You’ve got this!
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Jayme (pictured on the right) and her wife Amanda live in a suburb just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, with their son and daughter. Before her motherhood journey began in 2018, Jayme worked as a Registered Nurse and has since transitioned to being a full-time stay-at-home mom of two kiddos and three fur babies. When able, she loves baking, hiking, and sipping (hot!) coffee on the porch – no matter the time of year.