Although many will view the living room as the social hub of the home, the kitchen is the area that should lend itself to being the focal point of family gatherings. It is the place where we eat together, cook together and talk together. It doesn’t need a TV or games console to bring everyone into one room and it can be a place to make fond memories.Creating a space that is family-friendly and enticing to all the members of the family is simple to do. It just requires some creativity with the space that you have.
Creating a Focal Point
To make the kitchen the centre of activity, you need to make it welcoming and useful for all those in your family. For the older children, this means a place to do homework, talk about their day and a place to come for snacks. It’s also a great area for learning new skills, such as how to cook.
For the younger ones, you will need to think of life from their point of view. Sharp and dangerous objects need to be out of reach and as un-enticing as possible, along with making everything at their height level good for touching and playing with. Did you know that this could even involve your kitchen units?
There is paint you can buy that turns surfaces into chalkboards. Yes, chalkboards. You can paint the bottom of your breakfast bar, or one of the lower cupboard doors and hey presto! Your children have a new place to play and be creative without wrecking the style of your beautiful kitchen. There’s lots of brands to choose from including this chalkboard paint from Homebase.
As mentioned above, you need to be savvy about what goes in your kitchen and how to keep it out of reach of the little ones if it could be considered dangerous. Keeping things at a height or in high cupboards out of reach is a great start but it does also come down to educating your children about kitchen safety, and how to safely use/carry objects that could cause them harm.
The NHS gives a great guide to getting children into the kitchen learning new skills. Firstly, it’s essential to supervise children in the kitchen at all times. You must restrict the jobs you give them according to their age and ability. For younger children, mixing dough with their hands could be fun, whilst older children may be able to chop and peel vegetables.
The kitchen safety tips mentioned include:
Never run in the kitchen
Mop up spills straight away
Hold and use knives with great care (show children the correct way)
Always wear oven gloves when putting something in or getting something out of the oven
Food, Glorious Food
Cooking with your children is a great way to prepare them for adult life, teach them about healthy ingredients and to give them an appreciation for good food. Getting everyone involved can be like herding sheep but some preparation before you start can go a long way.
Although food shopping with children can be less than relaxing, it is a good tool for getting them interested in the cookery lesson, especially if they get to put together the shopping list of ingredients themselves. Make sure you buy more ingredients than needed just in case any mistakes happen.
If you’re stuck on what you think your little one (or big one) can handle in the kitchen, BBC Good Food has a great guide to cookery skills by age to give you a nudge in the right direction.
The kitchen is also a place of entertainment and not just for cookery lessons. Family parties can be thrown in the kitchen, especially if you have access from the kitchen to the garden. Opening up the two spaces into one with internal bifold doors can offer you the option of throwing a garden party or an afternoon tea inside with a glorious view of your outdoor space.
BBQ’s are also a crowd pleaser as everyone fights over tending to the BBQ. The summer months are for enjoying every last drop of sun, so be sure to plan some events or intimate gatherings that bring everyone together. Come winter time, you’ll be wishing you had made the most of having the doors open into the garden every day.
Back to cooking, the kitchen can give little ones the arena to try out new recipes and cooking skills as well as getting to watch everyone enjoy the fruits of their labour. When new creations are made, make a fuss of them by incorporating it into that night’s family dinner or even a small party for close friends and family.