The monster in my kitchen

I’ve been planning to write about finding my balance with where I am in life and being in a good place, but starting about a week ago, Gabriel turned some corner into a [hopefully short-lived] developmental stage known as “Horrible.”  I’m pretty sure it manifested before his fall, but I’m not positive, and I can’t help but wonder if he knocked a few screws loose.

Anyway, he’s been very clingy and needy, making it difficult for me to get much of anything done, but it’s been particularly frustrating in the kitchen.  Turns out, it’s rather difficult to chop vegetables with a large, sharp knife, and deal with hot pans on the stove-top and in the oven, when a fussy toddler is pulling on your legs, shirt, etc.  Not to mentioned dangerous.

I gave up before I started on a couple of evenings, too sapped from dealing with him earlier in the day and anticipating his antics to even try.  Leftovers to the rescue!

At my MIL’s suggestion, I tried putting him in his booster seat with some toys while I cooked (farinata, with a side of sweet potatoes and turnip greens, if you were wondering) last night, and it went surprisingly well.

Despite my misgivings about confining him like that, he actually seemed content to be sitting in the kitchen doing his own thing, playing and babbling with very little input from me, in contrast to the frantic whining and wrapping himself around my legs of previous afternoons.

Eventually, I plan to let him help more in the kitchen, but we’re not quite there yet.  Last week, I experimented with helping him stand on a chair and sift flour and stir the dry ingredients for raw apple cake.

It went well — flour more or less stayed in the bowl, he didn’t fall of the chair and crack his head on the tile flour, and he seemed to enjoy helping.  However, it required very close and constant supervision on my part, definitely not something I have time for every night.

If any of you have suggestions for occupying young toddlers while cooking and/or safe ways (easy and not TOO messy would be great, also) to involve toddlers in the kitchen, I’d love to  hear them.


  1. Funny post and I can understand where you are coming from! I wrote an article of tips and tricks for getting your toddler cooking:

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Great tips, thanks for sharing your article, Kim!

  2. I haven’t been following very long so I’m not totally sure how old your little one is. My son is now 13, but I cooked with him a lot from the time he could sit up on his own.

    When he was really small, I would sit him on the counter next to where I was working. He wasn’t too grabby, so I didn’t have to worry about him grabbing the sharp knives. He loved to lick beaters and spoons when I was baking. He was meticulous and one spoon would keep him busy for quite awhile while he licked every molecule of batter/dough/icing off of it. It helped that he loved everything from cake batter to bread dough.

    He took long afternoon naps, so I learned to do a lot of dinner prep then. I also did the high chair with toys or a snack. There is nothing wrong with having your son sit there while you cook. My son loved being high enough to see what I was doing, but didn’t always have to be “helping.” Try to find snacks that require work on his part to eat if you need more time – dipping, assembling, a lot of chewing (like with teething biscuits or biscotti). 🙂

    Remember to have fun when he is helping you. I sometimes forgot that. If he makes a mess, make the clean-up part of the fun.

    My son now loves to cook with me and is moving toward making things totally on is own. It all started with sitting on the counter while I cooked. 🙂

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      My little guy (18 mo.) is VERY grabby — I definitely had to make sure knives and anything else I didn’t want in his hands were well out of the way before our little venture last week.

      I like the image of a happy baby sitting on the counter, helping with clean up 😉

      And thanks for the “have fun” reminder — it’s easy to get caught up in being task-oriented and forget to be in the moment, enjoying things from a child’s perspective!

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