Do you have fond memories of baking with your mum when you were little? You probably don’t remember the mess you made or the look of terror in your mother’s eyes as you sprinkled flour onto the freshly mopped floor. You more than likely remember the blissful moments like rolling out scraps of pastry and perhaps piping buttercream on top of those cute butterfly cakes.
Now, you are hoping to re-live those happy memories with your own children and that harsh reality has hit home. You’re the mum now, which means you’ve got to deal with all the mess and sticky fingers. It just isn’t the relaxing experience you had envisaged; in fact, it’s rather stressful!
If you have ever tried to bake with your little ones, then you are sure to have experienced at least a few of these…
1. There are absoloutely no leftovers
Most of us have a weakness for raw cake batter and can’t leave a bowl or spatula unlicked. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures and nothing to be ashamed of! However, children take bowl licking to a whole new level. Turn your back for a second and they will shovel spoonfuls of batter straight into their mouths. Oh, and good luck trying to take the bowl away before they’re done!
2. Every cake will contain that ‘secret’ ingredient
When you eat something made by a pre-schooler, there’s a good chance it contains an extra ingredient. Small children very rarely think to use a tissue to wipe their noses. A finger or the back of their hand will apparently do just as well. By the time you’ve noticed the runny nose, it’s often too late!
3. …And they are not always edible
Children can get bored with using simple baking ingredients and may not be able to resist the temptation to liven things up…. Yes, glitter does look pretty, but NOT in a cake! No, we don’t want glue in the biscuits!
4. The washing up pushes your stress levels higher than EVER
Washing up is never fun but baking with children will equal a bigger pile of dirty bowls, spoons and whisks. That may seem bad enough but if your little one is keen to help with the washing up, then you are also at risk of a flooded kitchen…
5. Sharing?! It’s a myth
It seems like such a good idea to bake all together, as a family. You have visions of playful laughter and the children listening attentively to your instructions. The reality is that there will be snatching, pushing and the indignant cries of “it’s not fair” echoing around the kitchen. At least one child and most probably you, will be sobbing by the end of it!
6. One word: ‘BORING!’
Children are often very excited at the prospect of baking. They fasten their aprons with glee and happily perch on a chair to reach the worktop. Sadly, after a few minutes of mixing, their concentration starts to wane. Suddenly, they would much rather play in the sand outside, or get the paint pots out. Before you know it, you’ve been left to make the biscuits you never really wanted to make in the first place!
7. You become a health and safety inspector
Another one to add to the CV. There are many perils to be found in a kitchen. You will spend most of the time in a sense of high alert. Why does your child seem drawn to the hot oven? How do they keep falling off the chair? Where did they find that carving knife?!
8. Less becomes so much more
We all love to pretty up our bakes with some icing but children tend to bathe their biscuits and cakes with a thick gooey layer. However, when your little one passes you their lovingly prepared sickly sweet biscuit, you have no choice but to eat a week’s worth of sugar in one mouthful.
9. Sprinkles become your new best friend
Who doesn’t love sprinkles? Children certainly can’t get enough of them and will eagerly pour them over every baked goodie in sight. The trouble is that most of the sprinkles end up decorating the worktop and the floor. You will be finding sprinkles for the rest of your LIFE!
10. Your kitchen looks like a teenager’s bedroom – messy, beyond hope
Mess and baking go hand in hand. Most of us end up with a bit of flour down our apron and dough stuck to our hands. However, children are professional mess makers. At the end of your baking session, you won’t recognise your own child. A chocolate-smeared face, dough-tangled hair and cake mix splattered all over their clothes. It might be a good idea to fill the bath before you start baking, so that you are ready for a quick clean up!
11. You get stuck in a time warp
We can bake a cake on our own in half an hour but expect to triple that if you have a little helper! One of the great things about kids is their attention to detail and exacting ways, but it can be a tad infuriating when it takes 10 minutes to grease a tin!
12. It’s always worth it in the end
Yes, baking with children does lead to messy bowls and sticky fingers. You may feel waves of exasperation wash over you as they insist on those extra sprinkles BUT, seeing the pride on their little faces when they show off their baked creations makes it completely and utterly worth it!