Need help in the kitchen? Here’s how your kids can assist, even at the age of 3

Chores like setting the table or helping prepare meals will teach kids life skills like taking responsibility and independence.

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Washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning… the never-ending cycle of daily chores never seems to end, and it can take its toll on you, especially if you’re working and dealing with kids 24/7, too. But just because your kids are little doesn’t mean they can’t help – especially when it comes to mealtimes.

Just make sure whatever you give them to do is age-appropriate. Not only will this help you, but chores like setting the table or packing the dishwasher will teach them life skills like taking responsibility, self-reliance, independence and self-confidence.

Dr Natalie Digate Muth, a paediatrician and author of Family Fit Plan: A 30-Day Wellness Transformation says, “For the most part, kids at every age can ‘pull their own weight’ when it comes to mealtimes and helping around the house.”

Besides learning important skills as they grow, she says, it will also promote family bonding time.

ALSO SEE: Why your kids should be doing chores, whatever their age

Here’s a guide on how your kids can help – at any age!

Age 3-4:

  • Set the table with place mats, serviettes and spoons.
  • Pick herbs in the garden (or from a pot on your windowsill) for you to use in a dish.
  • Arrange slices of cut fruit and vegetables on a plate.
  • Stir things in a pot, or scramble eggs for you. (You’ll just need to supervise, of course)
  • Clear the table by putting the place mats back in the cupboard drawer, the spoons that have been used in the sink or dishwasher, and throw away rubbish in the bin.

Age 4-6:

  • Rinse fruit and vegetables for you to use in a dish.
  • Measure and mix ingredients for you. (Bonus – you’re teaching them maths skills)
  • Collect plastic cups, plates and cutlery from the kitchen to put on the table.

Age 7-12:

  • Peel and rinse fruit and vegetables.
  • Prepare side dishes, like a salad or a dessert.
  • Read simple recipes (great reading practice).

Age 12+:

  • Chop fruit and veggies with a knife.
  • Follow a recipe.
  • Boil pasta, rice or an egg. (At this age they are perfectly capable of putting a pot of water on the stove to cook some pasta, rice or even an egg.)

At the end of the day, when you involve your kids in mealtime preparations from an early age, you’re doing them a big favour. It allows them to learn to make healthier choices, and it will also help them to be more self-sufficient when they’re older.

They might not thank you now – but trust us, they will later on!

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