Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Little helpers... and a counting tip

A reader asked:

How old were your boys when they were ready to help in the kitchen, or around the house at all? How old when they started standing on chairs (safely) to help or watch? I would love to be including my little one more... any ideas for a first job?

Well, the first job I have given to both Yehoshua and Eliyahu, was helping with dishes. I wash my dishes by hand, so I just put a chair up beside me and let them "help". They could do this job as soon as they could stand up while holding onto things (i.e. before they could walk). This post has more details about exactly how I (safely) do it... and a few more pictures of Eliyahu helping me the first time he got to do dishes. :)

Eliyahu gets to help with dishes for the first time...

I took this picture of Eliyahu the first time he helped with dishes ,at 10 months -- he's 25 months old now and still runs for a chair whenever he hears me turn on the water. :)

Helping with the dishes is so much fun for my boys. Many days, they still both stand on the chair together and help. Dishes is one of the easiest chores for me to get done with little children around -- because I just let them help! It does take some patience, and sometimes my back hurts from leaning around them to reach the drainer, but they have so much fun. :)

But really, I just play things by ear when it comes to helpers in the kitchen. The first few times I let Eliyahu stir things for me, he made a mess... but we worked on trying to be more neat, and now he does pretty well. Don't be afraid to try new things with your little one, just to see if they're big enough to do it! Sometimes my boys surprise me with how capable they are on the first try! :D

This post about working alongside our children also has a lot of great starter ideas for chores around the house, and I also have a podcast about cooking with children -- that page includes links to lots of other cooking-with-children posts, as well. :) I'm almost wondering if I should start a whole new category for posts about cooking with little helpers! :)

Now, my tip for this week is this:

When you are measuring things, and you have lots of little helpers, invariably you will be interrupted at least once while you're counting out the 12 cups of oats, or the 6 cups of flour. Counting out loud makes it much easier to remember where you left off before you were interrupted!

I now know why my mom always counted out loud when she was measuring things. It wasn't to teach her little ones how to count... it was so that when someone asked, "Hey, mom, where's my ____?" and the baby got into trouble, and the other little one said "I have to go potty!", she wouldn't forget how many cups of flour she had already measured.

But, I'm sure all you moms-of-many already knew this tip, right? I just figured it out a few months ago. :)

To participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Post a kitchen tip in your blog, with a link to this post. Then come here and add your name, tip subject, and URL to this post! Links must be family friendly, as always. If you don't have a blog but would still like to share a tip, just leave a comment here with your tip! Everyone's ideas are appreciated. :) Note: Please link to your individual post, not your blog's main/front page! Thanks for participating! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants
1. A Juggling Mum (Skim Milk)
2. Donna (a great place for measuring spoons)
3. Our Red House (Gran's Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting)
4. Passionate Homemaking (mastering herb & spice uses)
5. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home (feeding picky toddlers)
6. Donna (homemade instant oatmeal-4 flavors)
7. Kathleen (greasing pans)
8. Mill Musings (No More Mushy Grapes: Saving Leftover Grapes)
9. tip for freezing cheese
10. Debbie J. (Decluttering Kitchen Cabinets)
11. The Happy Housewife ~ Bananas
12. Elizabethsue ( Bargins on Kitchen Utensils)
13. Sonshine (organizing little things)
14. Feminine Pursuits (Frozen Pancakes)
15. Beans & Rice (saving on organic and soy milk)
16. Mom2fur (cutting board storage)
17. Moonpie (Cooking with Wine)
18. homemade cereal and blueberry storage
19. Martie (menu planner)
20. Blessed Abundance (mopping with a toddler)
21. Laura @ heavenly Homemakers (healthy treats)
22. delilah (easy cheese grating)
23. Trish (keeping a clean kitchen)



I posted about the yummy, helthy homemade cereal I make and how I store fruit to go in it! Come check it out! It's at my public blog

Your boys are so cute and its so great that you include them in the kitchen!

That was funny. I do that, too, but I didn't know others did. My memory is so poor when I get distracted that it is my hope that someone nearby can tell me where I left off so I don't have to start measuring all over again :)

Thanks Tammy!!! I love it... DS and I are going to do dishes this morning. The best part is that I'm now looking forward to the small sink of dishes (we do them by hand too) instead of dreading them... and I'm actually thankful that the babysitter didn't do them for me last night... that's a first!

I did think of one thing that DS (14 months) does do with me... laundry. He "helps" me move things from the washer to the dryer... then he is the official button pusher. Hopefully DH will help him up there when I can't lift him after baby is born. :)


Just wanted to leave a note saying how much I enjoy your site and the time you put into it. It is a sweet and refreshing place to visit.

That is a great tip, I often loose count when I am measuring...
Today my tip is about bananas
The Happy Housewife

I made your pumpkin rolls yesterday, and had the pleasure of changing two dirty diapers (from one baby!) while I was measuring the flour. I use clothespins or something similar to count. For however many cups I need, I put that many in a pile. As I add another cup, I move a pin over to a new pile. It has saved me many times!

I read a tip years ago for counting, and have used it ever since. As many cups as you need of an ingredient, count out as many raisins (or other fruit, etc.) Then when you pour out 1 cup, eat 1 raisin. If you don't want to eat them, just put into another bowl (though I imagine little helpers would enjoy the eating part!).

Tammy, I just wanted you to know how much I love Kitchen Tip Tuesday! I am learning to love being in my kitchen with littles underfoot. (I really like to cook, but I've had a hard time learning how to do it with two little ones!). I visit daily, as you have really helped me implement different ideas!

Your site is truly a breath of fresh air. From the way you obviously love and take care of your family, to your meal plans, to your fantastic attitude.

You are top notch!

-Lauren in NC

LOL, I count out loud too! :) ~Tanya


I love your posts on letting the kids help. Brings back memories. So many new mom's struggle with how to interact with their children - they desire to - but not quite sure how it is done. You are doing a good job showing how a homemaker and mother co- exist in the same house! Blessings,

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