I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I do sometimes set little mental goals for myself. Just things I'd like to get done or start doing, or just reminders for myself of my priorities.
One of my goals for this year is to start cooking with the kids more, and start teaching them how to cook. I believe it's a very important skill for them to have, and starting young is the best way to learn. I believe that kids are more likely to eat better if they've participated in the process, and I think it's a great way to expose them to a variety of foods - the touching and smelling and feeling - even if they don't eat it just yet. I also feel like it's important for our family - to participate in what they see me doing, to feel like they are helping me, and to understand that it's important that we all pitch in and work together.
I've been feeling for a while that I needed to make a more dedicated effort at this, more than just letting them add the chocolate chips to the occasional batch of cookies. But with four kids it's hard to figure out how to do it without it turning into a three ring circus. Having more than one child in the kitchen leads to chaos. Also I am often in a hurry and just trying to get it on the table, and even when they ask to help I have been turning them away because I don't want them slowing me down. But I know that's not right. I'm reminding myself that it doesn't matter if we eat dinner 15 or 20 minutes late (even though our schedule is our religion in this house), what matters is that they are learning, and growing, and feeling like I am acknowledging their needs, and feeling included.
They are all old enough now that they are very capable of entertaining themselves. Actually all of my kids have always been pretty good at that, but now we're at a point where I really feel like they can manage their time independently pretty well. So that means that I can choose one child at a time to cook with, and feel pretty confident that the other three aren't going to kill each other or burn the house down while I'm not paying attention to them.
Because we live and die by our schedules here, I've set up a schedule for taking turns to cook that is tied to our chore chart. On our chore chart we rotate through different jobs each day, and one of the daily "jobs" is being mom's extra helper. I rearranged the days on the chore chart a little so that each child has one day when their turn at being my helper falls on a day when I am cooking a dinner they can help with. It's not as simple as it sounds - I generally only cook from scratch about 4 nights a week, and I plan our meals ahead. We have one night a week that's usually frozen or takeout pizza, and at least one night a week of leftovers, and we have a couple of days where I usually get the dinner made ahead of time, because we're running around after school. So I had to adjust my calendar and my meal planning to line up with days for including the kids in the cooking, and build in time to my schedule to account for the cooking to take a little longer. For a while it also means that my meal planning will take into consideration the fact that I have kids helping - I want to try to start them out helping me cook very simple meals, where I can teach them basic skills in the kitchen, while cooking food that they will be excited about eating. I want to plan meals that they can really participate in the majority of the cooking and will be quick enough to make to accommodate their 5 and 8 year old attention spans.
It's going to be fun! (and a bit of work)