Friday, 17 October 2014

{Day 15} Baking Bread with Kids

(Disclaimer: Life happens. I got behind on this challenge. So you're going to see hopefully 4 blog posts today while I attempt to catch up. :) )

Baking bread can be a challenge and time consuming in and of itself (especially for those of us who have challenges with time management!) but adding kids to the mix? Well that just increases the challenge exponentially! :) BUT, it can also make baking bread more fun! :)

My children are 4 and 2. Most of the time, when I'm trying to work alone in the kitchen, they tend to get underfoot. They want to help (of course)! :) Sometimes it's just easier to send them out and get the baking done on my own. But, honestly, in spite of the extra chaos, it's often so worth it to let them help! If I'm making a dough or bread in the bread maker, it's not too hard to let them add the ingredients to the bread pan and they feel accomplished for being able to do what they see as super important work! :) They feel pride in their work and I get bonding time with your kids! :) With the 4 year old, I can also use this time to teach skills about accurate measurements, math (how many cups of  ____ do we need; if we've already put ___ cups of flour in, how many more cups do we need; etc.)

It's important to let go of some control when baking bread with kids. Let the flour get over the counter! Hey, some will even spill on the floor! :) It's really not that heard to clean up and the kids will learn some great lessons and have some great bonding time with you! And, the kids can even help clean up afterwards! Another great teaching moment for you and them! :)

Of course, the easiest bread or dough to let them help with is the kind you make in the bread machine. The whole experience if over quicker which, you might think, is less stress for you and less stress is good! BUT, what about the experiences and memories you'd be building with your kids if you took the time to make more traditional bread? What about the lessons you can teach about science, math, patience, etc? Aren't the lessons and memories worth so much more than a few moments of less "stress"? I think so! My girls learn to knead dough. The learn that this takes time (and builds muscles). They learn that the better kneading makes a better dough which makes a better bread. With my hands guiding theirs, they experience the bond of touch. We smile at each other and enjoy each other's company while we work the dough, shape it into loaves and put it in the oven to bake. They learn important lessons about safety in the kitchen. They, in the long run, are learning how to provide healthy meals for their families when they have families of their own. They learn patience - bread making takes time as you wait for dough to rise (sometimes multiple times) and then to bake and even to cool! Though, if I'd let them, they wouldn't wait for bread to cool and would just eat it the moment it came out of the oven! :) They're learning that waiting gives great results! :) These lessons in patience will help them when they need patience in other situations in life as well!

I've discovered that, yes, at first it is a tad more stressful when you let your kids be involved in the whole process of bread making. But, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and teach your child in the kitchen! The stress is not nearly as much as you'd imagine once you just let go of that control you cling to. :) And the rewards so infinitely greater than any stress you could imagine! :) No, your bread probably won't be perfect or end up just as you thought it would. But it's bread ... that you baked with your children! Embrace it! :)

I know I included this photo in a previous blog post but it was worth sharing again ... my 4yo kneading her bread dough. :)