Parents in the UK are always being warned in the media about the dangers to kids that exist in the average kitchen – hot ovens, chip pans, kettles and under sink cupboards full of toxic cleaning sprays and liquids. Most of us rush to make our kitchens safe for little ones with guards and cupboard locks. Kids are usually fascinated by kitchen cupboards, opening and closing them, looking at what’s inside – they usually just want to copy Mum or Dad and have free rein. If you regularly spend family time in the kitchen, cooking, eating or just sitting round the table talking about your day, then the kids are sure to want to join in. When boredom sets in, they will begin to check out what’s in the cupboards, getting up to all sorts of mischief, meaning that you have to keep a constant eye on them. You probably get sick of the sound of your own voice at times as you tell them “No” and “Don’t”.
When my daughter was a toddler, I spent a lot of time in the open-plan kitchen/dining room so she did too. I came up with an imaginative way of letting her be involved in the kitchen by emptying one of the bottom cupboards (safely away from the kettle and the cooker) and handing it over to her to use as an Art and Craft Cupboard. We filled the cupboard with crayons, paints, felt pens, paper and colouring books. She also kept some of her best loved small toys in there and used the cupboard as a kitchen activity box. When she wanted to be creative, she could just open the cupboard, get out the tools and materials she needed and then sit at the kitchen table, drawing, colouring, modelling clay or painting.
Having her own cupboard in the kitchen made her feel very grown up and involved with family life.She left all the other cupboards alone as the contents of her own Art and Craft Cupboard were much more interesting than pots and pans and tins of food. Even though cupboard space was minimal in the kitchen, a little shuffling around meant that I could free up enough space for her to keep all her arty stuff. I could get on with the tasks I needed to do in the kitchen while she happily played at the kitchen table (and sometimes right inside the cupboard when she was tiny).
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, why not consider this? If you have several kids, then giving them a kitchen cupboard each would probably leave you with nowhere to keep all the kitchen paraphernalia you need. However, you could see if you can fit in an extra free standing cupboard so that the kids could have a side each (strictly divided to cut down on squabbles). Giving the kids their own space in the kitchen can make for a bustling, activity filled family life – it’s much better than having them all in separate rooms with you listening out for the sounds of trouble while you’re busy trying to cook a family meal. It will cut down on stress for you and the family all either work or play in the same room.