There is much controversy about whether or not children should undertake chores. Numerous people think that children can only benefit from undertaking chores as it helps them to learn vital life skills that can only help them when they have homes of their own.
Others argue that children grow out childhood far too early and that the process and freedom of childhood play is a vital part of the growing up process. Both are indeed correct, it is, as with the majority of issues in life about achieving the correct balance that is truly important.
I have always been a fan of children helping in the kitchen. Since I do not like over-processed food considering the homemade natural option to be far healthier, I have always been keen to pass this belief alongside with some knowledge to my children.
The best way to achieve this is for them to be involved in the kitchen from an early age.
Chores should not be a hardship for children it should be in general something that they enjoy. It is also important that they feel that they are participating in the running of the household rather than being used as cheap labor.
Do not expect a perfect job, allowances are required, results will improve with plenty of encouragement.
It is important to remember that some kitchen chore can be extremely dangerous, considerable thought as to what chores are safe for children to undertake should always be taken.
There are, I would suggest 10 chores that children should not undertake at least not until they have had significant instruction and then only whilst being carefully monitored.
#1. Peeling Vegetables
A vegetable peeler may appear to be a low tech easy to use implement that would render peeling potatoes and an ideal chore for children to undertake. However, the humble peeler is dreadfully dangerous, even if used correctly.
Since a potato is held in one hand whilst the other is peeling the potato it is easy for the peeler to slip on to the other hand or fingers. The peeler is sharp and can inflict an incredibly painful injury.
An injury made in this manner could easily render children reticent to complete any similar chores in the kitchen.
#2. Drying Glasses
Some glasses, especially wine glass can be extraordinarily fine and fragile. I was reminded only the other day when I was drying a glass with a tea towel just how fragile they could be.
The glass snapped and due to the drying motion, plunged deep into my hand between my thumb and forefinger. This simple slip resulted in a trip to the hospital.
Returning home with three sutures and significant bandaging on a hand that remained painful for some time, I remain hesitant to dry glasses anymore.
A child could easily have sustained damage that could have resulted in permanent damage that could affect the functioning of the hand. This is not something that any parent would wish upon their child.
#3. Using Knives to Prepare Vegetables or Meat
One of the highly used pieces of equipment in a kitchen is the knife. As an experienced person in the kitchen, I take extra care to ensure that I use the correct knife for the task in hand .Experience has taught me how to hold food when cutting to avoid injury.
For a child, this knowledge can only come after much training and supervision. I do not consider a blunter style of a knife rather a sharp knife to be a consideration since a blunt knife is far more dangerous than a sharp knife.
By pressing with force on a blunt knife to cut something it is easier for it to slip and cause injury, and the cut of a blunt knife is often worse than one caused by a sharp one.
#4. Grate Cheese
A traditional manual cheese grater is an easy piece of equipment to use, but as the cheese passes through the grater the fingers become ever closer to the cutting surface.
Normally, as I move closer to the cutting edge I change my grip on the cheese by pressing with the palm of my hand rather than holding the cheese in my fingers.
This action prevents damage to the fingers, but only if you change how the cheese is being held in time. A child could easily misjudge the timing resulting in injury.
#5. Preparing Raw Meat
Preparing raw meat such as chicken would allow a child to be exposed to potentially life-threatening bacteria. Bacteria are invisible and in warm environments propagate at unbelievable speed.
Anything that is in contact with the chicken, hands utensils work surfaces become infected and need to be cleaned down effectively to prevent the spread of the bacteria. If chicken is handled and hands are not adequately cleaned the bacteria will spread to the door handle, the cup, other food, an eye or mouth.
This invisible menace can then enter the body of the person handling it or anyone who touches the infected surfaces. Whilst it is extremely important to instruct children in the handling of raw meat it is vital that no one is made ill in that process.
#6. Loading the Dishwasher
Loading the dishwasher is not everyone’s favorite chore, and there is quite a technique for ensuring that it is loaded in such a way that everything will fit in one wash.
Surely that is easy for a child, but it is important that we look for dangers. Push the glass in to energetically and it may break and cut a hand. Reach across the cutlery and a hand or arm could be cut.
The detergent itself is an extremely concentrated cocktail of chemicals that clean the dishes, but can be dangerous for anyone, especially a child to ingest.
#7. Using an Oven
Whilst I agree that a child could be perfectly capable of placing various hot items in and out of the oven with the use of suitable oven gloves, there are some items that I would not be comfortable with them handling.
Trays containing food in incredibly hot fat are particularly dangerous. It is actually extremely easy for an adult to misjudge how they are holding the tray with the cloth, or misjudge the position of the tray in relation to the shelf in the oven.
Countless incidents could happen that would result in hot fat or oil being spilled over someone. The severity of a hot oil burn is something to be avoided by everyone, especially children.
#8. Preparing Hot Beverages
A certain amount of dexterity and judgement is required in pouring boiling hot water into cups or mugs. Any spillages that come into contact with bare skin can produce horrific burns that need to be treated immediately to prevent them from becoming far worse.
#9. Cooking Fries
Whilst I agree there are lots of new devices available that are perfectly safe for children to cook fries with today, older methods are extremely dangerous. The use of an open pan with oil on a burner to cook fries used to be common practice, although I suppose this is not a technique that is as popular today.
This method is incredibly dangerous since the temperature of the oil cannot be adequately monitored or controlled. As oil reaches a certain temperature, it can burst into flames. This type of incident has been the cause of lots of devastating house fires over the years.
A lot of adults would struggle in trying to control such an incident, and I stand convinced that some children would be completely overwhelmed by such an occurrence.
#10. Cleaning an Oven
Not everyone has a self-clean oven making this unsavory chore, something that has to be completed with chemicals and a great deal of scrubbing.
Some chemicals do profess to be skin-friendly but not wishing to be overprotective a child’s skin is young and far more susceptible to harsh chemicals and scrubbing with scourers.
Whilst protective gloves can be worn there is always the chance of splashes and arms reaching in could come in contact with the chemicals.
With this list of 10 kitchen chores that children should not do I have tried to be subjective and realistic. I realize that there are now countless gadgets both electronic and hand-powered that can perform several of the more mundane kitchen chores, especially some that I have listed above.
Having used various must-have kitchen devices over the years I have not found masses that perform especially well and indeed loads of them create more work than they save. Besides, hands-on is all part of the fun.
The age of the children is also an especially large consideration, whilst some of these chores are easily attainable by children that are slightly older who have had some tuition and experience of kitchen chores, a younger child should be gently nurtured by commencing with simpler chores.
As a parent, we all tread the tightrope of wanting what is best for our children by equipping them with knowledge for the future whilst protecting them and ensuring they are safe.
Three years ago, I bought an off-grid Cortijo in a small valley in the Andalucian mountains. Although, perhaps the lifestyle is in my genes as my grandfather and his four brothers were Homesteaders in Alberta Canada in the 1900s.
The mountains of Spain are a difficult place to grow many of the flowers that I was used to in the UK. However, veggies grow well year-round. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, melons, and chard all fare well in the Mediterranean climate. Almond trees provide me with a cash crop of around 1 ton while still retaining some to make almond milk and flour.
Meet the rest of the Homesteading Hippy team here.