and slows you down.
But it is not wasted time, this is an investment.
My daughter did not reach one year old when I let her knee dough. She is always delighted to give us a helping hand in the kitchen - and of course try to taste as many ingredients as possible. Okay, I have to do extra cleaning afterwards, but I am sure it is worth it.
Here are my reasons why:
1) Because it is funI have never seen a child who would not enjoy cooking with their parents. Cooking is a kind of art, it is a creative and playful activity. The only thing you should not have definite and high expectations regarding the final outcome. Probably you planned a normal pizza, but your kids make little basket from pizza dough filled with some unrecognisable filling. As far as the meal is edible, and there is no health hazard, take it as success.
2) Because even the pickier kids eat food made by their own handsI don't know it is because they want to prove that their creation is the most delicious meal ever or they just appreciate the hard work of cooking, - but they are prone to eat more if it was made by their own fair hand.
3) Because it helps them improve their skillsStirring, cutting, sprinkling, kneading etc. all help them to improve their fine motor skills. Also for little ones touching so many different texture or even try new tastes is a sensory heaven. These can contribute their brain development, so it is worth to start this kind of activity as early as 4-6 months age.
4) Because cooking gives them self-esteem"Dad/Mum, look what I have cooked for you." Do you want more from life than hear this sentence? You are lucky. Specially if the meal is tasty. :-)
5) Because being familiar with cooking methods, kitchen tools and hazards makes your life easierHow? Well, after a little time hopefully, you do not need to get up early to make breakfast for the kids. They will be able to do it themselves. Also as they know the safety hazards in the kitchen, you do not need to worry about them. Plus they will not keep calling you from the student home later asking how to make scrambled eggs...
6) Because even a basic nutritional knowledge can be the beginning of a healthy relationship with foodKnowing their food helps them to understand their bodies' needs. Just a couple of examples: they will not mistake thirst with hunger, they will know when to stop eating or less prone to use food as reward in their later life, they will know which food can help them relax or recover after an illness.
7) Because cooking brings the whole family togetherCooking is fun, one of the best family activities. The process of creation is teamwork, sharing the meal at the end also brings the family members closer. And there are plenty of opportunity to laugh, to tell stories, to listen, to understand each other during cooking. Cooking is the perfect family activity for a rainy day: cheap, you can do it any time and gives your kids unforgettable memories.
Here are a collection to give you some nice ideas where to start: