You know those commercials that pop up around the holidays that show a family baking happily together? Flour dusting the children’s rosy cheeks as they sprinkle the cinnamon and steal licks of batter. Everyone giggles. Mom is all smiles, and the kids are listening attentively to her measuring instructions. One big happy family.
Well, these commercials, no matter how heart-warming, are complete and total bulls**t. They would lead to you to believe that baking with your family - small children included - is a fun, care-free event! But no matter how developmentally nurturing it may be, baking with kids, especially four year olds, happens to suck. So does the clean up.
If you’re a really nice mom and still plan to bake with your four-year-old anyway, here’s a step by step guide to help. Do not stray from it. And no matter what you do, do not believe the commercials. They’re lying to you. They’re lying to us all…
Step 1: Set up your work table.
In addition to your cookie ingredients you will need: Eight rolls of paper towels, three large beach towels, a mop, a (big) bottle of your favorite wine, snacks (you’re gonna be here for a while), dress-ups (for when she gets bored) and two aprons. Even if your kid is shoveling sugar down her shirt, she’ll still want to have the illusion of being a good and well-dressed baker.
Step 2: Pour yourself a huge glass of wine and drink half of it before you begin.
This is probably the most important step. You’re going to need a minor buzz to get by without a panic attack.
Step 3: Give your child an age-appropriate task while you do the sifting, egg cracking, and dumping of liquids into the bowl. Stirring, for example! When your child protests and cracks five eggs in, shell and all, don’t yell. Calmly pick out the shells and double your batch so it’s not too egg-y.
Step 4: Pour yourself another huge glass of wine. (I know, this one goes without saying.)
Step 5: Find some words of praise. Perhaps congratulate your child on being such an enthusiastic little baker through your clenched jaw as you wipe the egg out of your hair.
Step 6: Take deep breaths while your kid dumps the perfectly measured dry ingredients in. Try and calculate how much is on the table, the floor, and her shirt and how much actually made it into the bowl. Grab and extra handful of each and toss it in.
Step 7: Realize your kid has been scratching her butt on and off for the past 15 minutes and she needs to wash her hands. Push a chair over to the sink and let her play in it as long as humanly possible. There won’t be any dish soap when she’s through but at least these cookies might turn out borderline edible.
Step 8: Use one of your beach towels to dry the floor by the sink. And while you’re at it, get on your hands and knees and just wipe down the whole thing. It’s been God knows how long since you cleaned it and now that you’re down there, OMG. EW.
Step 9: Ask where the chocolate chips went and hear uproarious laughter from under the table where your child is sitting, shoveling them into her mouth. They are now half gone and the kid is covered in melted chocolate and singing Frozen at the top of her lungs.
Step 10: “Let it go” and pour more wine.
Step 11: Get in a fight over who gets to scoop the batter onto the cookie sheet. Realize you’re being super controlling and give the kid the spoon. Try not to think about how much batter is not making it onto the sheet.
Step 12: Keep drinking to stave off the heart palpitations you feel creeping and keep smiling. Don’t let her see what she’s done to you.
Step 13: Be subjected to more Frozen singing and dancing while the cookies bake. Eat snacks while you “watch” the dance, applauding every 30 seconds and secretly looking at your phone under the table.
Step 14: Realize something as simple as making cookies with your child has brought out every controlling urge in your entire being. Vow to go to yoga more.
Step 15: Wipe up the flour, put away the ingredients, clean egg off the ceiling and out of your hair. Burn the God-damn cookies.
Step 16: Your kid has totally lost interest at this point so at least you can scrap the cookies off the sheet in peace, put them on a plate, smile super big, and say “Thanks for the help, hunny!!”
Step 17: Sit down together to enjoy your burnt up, dry as f*ck, nasty a** cookies that could totally use that extra half cup of chocolate chips. Be thankful that at least you got the big bottle of wine to go with ‘em.