A family that cooks together stays together! OK, maybe that’s not a proven fact, but, I can tell you this - a family that cooks together TALKS together.
I’m a self-confessed neat freak. On occasion though, I cross over to the less “healthy” side of neatness and become a bit controlling. If I’m not careful my fondness for tidy can become a full-fledged stronghold.
Having kids has both challenged and benefited my journey of surrender. My kids are my greatest teachers! I’ve really had to do some work with God to allow Him to, well, literally “get in my kitchen” about keeping such a tight grip and trying so hard to control things in life. Mostly things that simply don’t matter.
A couple of years ago, my young children began asking to help me cook. Gasp, certain disorder and mess! My daughter in particular really wanted to help alongside me. My son was feeling the need for more independence and wanted to make and create his own meals. He’s incredibly creative and he was interested to find out how he could create in the kitchen.
Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could tell you about the ways that I embraced them with open arms and welcomed them into my world? How I wholeheartedly encouraged the opportunities they desired? I would love to tell you that I won the “mom of the year” award as I stewarded them lovingly. Let them spread their wings! I’d love to tell you about the special moments and memories we shared as we cooked up new creations and enjoyed time together as a family. Yep, I’d love that. Too bad it’s the furthest thing from reality. The truth is I blew it. Over and over, I blew it. My amazing little ones would ask to help with enthusiasm. They desired time with me and desired to learn from me. It was a blessed opportunity and I missed it, over and over. I told them no. Why? In an effort to maintain order. To divert messes. To maintain neatness. Oh how great the sting of regret.
One day though, the Lord broke through my mania and bestowed in its place sweet sanity. In a moment of silent prayer, He helped me begin to let go. I determined not to lose celebrations for the sake of control. I determined not to be burdened by my blessings. I pledged to rest in the mess and loosen my white knuckled grip. I invited my babies into my kitchen!
I’m so very thankful that I did! In His goodness, the Lord has restored lost moments and presented the rich conversation and memories I wish I’d embraced in the first place. My little girl and I now have a Sunday custom that we BOTH love. We get up early and spend time in the kitchen together making a special Sunday breakfast. Yes, it’s messy. No, it’s not efficient. Yes, it’s worth it!
If you’re hesitant to invite your family into cooking and food preparation, can I just encourage you today to try it? Spending that time pouring into your kids will bless you more than you’d believe! I’m sharing with you ways I’ve found to help encourage them to explore cooking without losing my sanity. I pray it blesses you!
Set Aside a Special Time
I have discovered that if I know ahead of time when my family will join me in the kitchen I can emotionally prepare for it. I’m not inconvenienced by it because I know it’s part of our routine. For us, it’s those special Sunday mornings. Or, I’ll be purposeful about asking them to help with dinner when it works. I also let my son make lunch for everyone on Saturday’s. Maybe for you it’s setting aside a night when you make pizzas together or maybe you make Sunday brunch after church. Maybe it’s as simple as scooping up ice cream sundaes after dinner. Whatever works best for you and your family set aside your special time in the kitchen together.
Leave Them Alone!
This has been absolutely huge for me! In the beginning I would stand in the kitchen with my son as he set out on his culinary exploration. I could feel my blood pressure skyrocket and my chest constrict as I watched him take item after item out of the pantry and refrigerator. Open packages and cheese shreds strewn across the counter were like kryptonite to my peace. One day, the Lord said to me, “Sarah, walk away!” It was a blessed word of advice for both me and my son! I simply said, “Rylan, my expectation is that you’ll put away everything you take out and clean up your own mess.” I walked out of the kitchen and let him enjoy his time. You know what happened? He did exactly what I asked him to do. He had a blast. I folded laundry. We both enjoyed freedom!
You Decide the Jobs
“I’m the parent! I get to decide which jobs are theirs and which are mine!” It may seem obvious, but for me it was an ah-ha moment! I enjoyed so much more freedom when I realized that that inviting my kids into the kitchen didn’t mean I had to give over full reign and access to every task. I was so freed to enjoy it more. I thought about which tasks or “jobs” they would enjoy and that I could peacefully let go of. Rather than offering open access, I give them a choice. I say, “Payton, would you rather chop the peppers or stir the batter?” I invite them to help with me responsibilities that won’t cause my own pot to boil over (pun intended!).
Flipping is ALWAYS Fun!
Flipping is my fallback. If I’m simply not in a mental or emotional place to be able to love my kids well in the kitchen, I rely on flipping food. Sometimes I do all the prep work and when it’s time to flip the food, I call them. It meets their need and keeps things simple. Examples of these types of foods are pancakes, hamburgers, dumping muffins and cupcakes from the trays, pouring noodles into the hot water, and flipping veggies. It’s a sanity saver and it works.
I know this one seems a little off topic, but it’s been a wonderful blessing for me. I have discovered that when I play music (I choose worship music) while we are in the kitchen together the entire experience is better. Music has a magical way of soothing our soul and causing joy to rise up within us. When my family joins me to cook, I ALWAYS put on music. I’ve been amazed at how many times music has caused us to sing and dance together, but also sparked incredible conversations. It’s been an unexpected key to success for us!
Don’t ever underestimate the power of the Word of God to lead you into ALL peace, understanding, freedom and victory! These are a few of my favorite verses to pray over this area of my life!
Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
Proverbs 31:14-15 “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”
Proverbs 31:27-28 “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”