making toast

Toddler independence – mealtime maker

Someone in our house has been Mr Independent since turning 3. This means: toilet training (‘no mummy, get out, stand outside the door, I don’t need help’); getting dressed (debatable as sometimes he’ll do it, other times he’s thinking about other things he won’t), and mealtime independence has to be top of the list.

N loves food, and he enjoys being part of the meal experience. He’ll sometimes help out with mixing, chopping, or setting the table, but mostly it’s the actually setting out the food and mealtimes that he wants to be involved with.

Breakfast’s a bit odd in our house. The OH goes out to work early for a couple of hours, then has breakfast at the farm before coming to say good morning and hang out with N while I get showered and dressed. Then N has 3 days a week where he has breakfast at nursery, so it’s only the other days he has breakfast at home. Or that’s the theory.

Because N is always hungry, so there’s no way he can wait until 8am to get food. Sometimes his dad’ll get N some food before he heads back out to work, but usually I’ll come downstairs to find N has dragged a chair over to the fridge or cupboards and has helped himself to a drink of squash (thankfully he’s now realised that you don’t drink it neat, so he’ll then add water from the cloakroom tap as he can’t reach the kitchen tap – bleurgh), a croissant (complete with chopping it up into pieces that he’ll eat with a spoon – probably dropping all the bits on the living room floor in the meantime) or a yoghurt (which of course he won’t eat in the pot, so it gets poured into a bowl).

making toast

The other day I thought his dad had buttered him some raisin bread already, but I could smell it toasted. I rushed downstairs to find N had toasted 2 pieces of raisin bread, had got one out of the toaster, and was waving a knife around wanting me to get the second piece out. Luckily he’d not stuck the knife in the toaster, so I had to lecture him on never doing that before buttering his toast for him.

At other mealtimes he’s very precise about what he wants. The right plate – we can never win. Usually he insists on having one of the big Denby plates and normal sized cutlery, but sometimes he’ll moan because we’ve not got out ‘his’ small ones.

Dinner, he has to serve himself potato and veg if they’re in serving bowls on the table. Sometimes, he’ll even want to serve his own pasta – it takes ages, but It’s great that he wants to be independent, and that he’s pretty tidy at doing so. Now all I need is for him to be able to actually butter his toast or bread, and I’ll never have to make a lunchbox again! Apart from having to police his cheese slicing…at the moment it’s cutting off half the block!

What have you caught your children trying to eat or cook?

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  1. He might surprise you. Quite a few of my friends say they have fussy eaters at home, but they eat better at nursery. Maybe letting him make his own food will help too?

  2. My 6 year old has very independant on helping herself to food and drink since she was 3.Last weekend she was quite insistent on me getting up before 8 and brought very pale toast to me whilst I was still in bed.She has been wanting to learn how to make tea like her older brother and sister but I’ll make her wait until next year before I let her do that.

    1. Ah, that’s so sweet, apart from the insistence to get up early! N still needs to learn to spread butter, as he just plonks butter on the toast and then gives up.
      N wont feel the need to make tea, as i don’t drink hot drinks and the OH only drinks them at the farm, so there’d be noone for him to make them for.

  3. Wow – that really does show his independant streak. I have to confess mine are rubbish and I can only blame myself really. Control freak gene – I hate stuff getting messed up so I tend to do it for them, although eldest doesn’t do a bad job these days, youngest is crap and she’s 6!

    1. I’d rather he didn’t make a mess (although he clears up in the kitchen better than the OH!). It’s more that I’m in the shower at the time so can’t prevent him.

  4. Ah, this is great. Even at four, D doesn’t always manage to stay tidy. He helps me quite a lot with measuring ingredients though and today it was mixing flour, sugar and salt that ended up a little bit all over him.

    1. Ah yes, I have one who wants to spoon out the sugar and flour and break the eggs too. That’s always messy, but it’s great that they want to do it

  5. My eldest child has always been incredible independent. Whilst that is great and I embrace that side of her, when she was younger, it was a worry! She was forever climbing on things and making things. I think scones were her first creation all by herself at around 9. It’s a great character trait though – just needs honing!

    1. It’s good to hear when it’s a benefit and can be developed usefully. sounds like you daughter’s definitely making it work for her.

      I’m not sure whether with N, it’s just because he’s 3. He can be really lazy though – like getting dressed or tidying up. Maybe I need to work on those things!

  6. Independence is great but they can really make some mess while doing it all themselves can’t they?! My boys always want to crack the eggs when we’re baking! #pocolo

    1. Ah yes. Egg cracking and trying to get it over the bowl. Hmmm. Our kitchen chairs’ leather seats have engrained food in now that I’ve missed when cleaning. He refuses to sit on a tea towel anymore!

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