Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4/9/2013 Clean Up: A Note From ChefElla's Dad


As ChefElla learns more about cooking and baking she continues to ask for more responsibility in the kitchen.  I think this is great, but one of the biggest jobs in the kitchen, is clean up.  Now it would be easy to just tell her, if you cook, you clean, and those are just the rules, but I have learned over the years that this kind of logic can have the opposite effect on a child.  When ChefElla was 4 she wanted to help in the kitchen.  We made lasagna and she had the best time.  When we were done I told her the rules of cooking.  You have to eat everything you make.  She did not cook with me again for 6 months.  After that we changed the rule to, you must try everything you make.

Now admit it.  We all hate cleaning, and because we cook 2-3 times per day it seems as if we are always cleaning.  Add child size cups and plates, school lunch boxes, snacks and the blender from ChefElla's Mom's Secret Strawberry Smoothie, and it is a wonder we ever make it out of the kitchen.

So what do you do?  Start small.  Start with one job.  We have talked in the past about your little ones helping set the table, and hopefully all of the little ChefEllas are helping with that.  Think of this as the the same thing.
Start with one job:
Clearing your place setting.
Putting your dishes in the sink or dishwasher.
Putting clean silverware away.
Drying dishes (dependent on age).
Putting unused ingredients away.
Helping pack up leftovers.
And any of the other one million small chores we do to clean up before or after a meal.

Start with single job.  When your little one gets good at that job, and remembers to do it on their own, it is time to give them another job ( I know that this can take a while and I cannot promise your little one will ever master their first job, but you have to start somewhere).

Do not get discouraged if you get some resistance at first, but if you do, offer two cleaning choices and let your little ones pick.  Again start small and increase the difficulty as they get more accustomed to kitchen chores.

Believe me I am not an expert and some days ChefElla says NO when I ask her to do things, but we cannot give up.  Keep at it, and on the days you do not hear a no, or when dirty dishes magically make it into the dishwasher without you asking, it will be worth it.


-ChefElla's Dad

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