You might have heard some people say that the kitchen is the heart of their home. They’ll have told you stories of how they all sit around their kitchen table eating, and how they spend time in the kitchen cooking together. You might have seen families on TV spending their mornings happily congregated in the kitchen before work and school, enjoying precious family time. You might have even seen videos online of people happily baking with their toddlers, with everyone smiling and having fun.
You might have also wondered why your own kitchen doesn’t get used in the same way? Why your kids only run into to get snacks out of the fridge and then head straight back to their bedrooms? You might find your own family eating in front of the TV, and you might have noticed that whenever you do try to bake or involve the kids with cooking, it just ends in tears and tantrums.
Having a kitchen that is the heart of your home can be valuable. It gives you a great chance to spend time together without distractions. To have a safe space for everyone to relax. To turn your kitchen into a creative space, where people are encouraged to experiment and have fun. It can give you a quiet screen-free zone to talk to your children about important issues or to listen to their problems. And, it is, of course, the perfect place to teach your children life lessons that will help them in the future, like how to cook and clean. But, if you’ve never spent much time together as a family in the kitchen, turning it into the heart of your home might seem like a big ask. Here are some ways to do it.
If you want your family to feel comfortable in the kitchen, you need to make sure that they are relaxed and happy. Look at safe, easy to use kitchen cabinets, or have yours refurbished to give them new life. Add plenty of color and easy to clean surfaces, and make sure you keep things bright and lively.
Move Things Around
As important as the décor is the layout. If you want your children to use the kitchen, they need to be safe and able to reach things. Move anything dangerous out of reach and put anything they need in an easy to reach cabinet. You could even give them their own cupboard and a stool or step so that they can reach work surfaces. Obviously, what you move depends on the age of your kids, you know them best.
If you are all going to be spending more time in the kitchen, you need to be comfortable. If you haven’t already got a table and chairs, add one. As big as you’ve got the space to accommodate comfortably. Encourage your kids to do their homework on this table, or to come into the kitchen for breakfast and after-school snacks. Start eating all of your meals at this table and ban mobile phones and tablets from meal times.
Let Some Mess In
As an adult, you probably like your kitchen to be clean and tidy. While this is great, it can make children uncomfortable. If you are asking them to spend time in a room that’s always perfectly tidy, and wiping up after them all of the time, they’ll feel uncomfortable and anxious. They won’t be able to relax and enjoy their time in the kitchen, and they’ll always be in a rush to get out. Try to find the balance between clean and hygienic and being ok with the odd spill or bit of mess. At least try to wait until the kids have left the room to get the hoover out.
Some people like to have a TV in the kitchen. This certainly encourages people to spend more time in there and gives you a chance to catch up on your favorite shows while you are in there cooking alone. But, it doesn’t encourage conversation and laughter. If you do want a TV in there, try to limit its use.
Music, however, can be a great addition to your kitchen. Music relaxes people and helps them to have fun. Dance around the kitchen while you cook and encourage your family to do the same. A little music automatically creates a fun atmosphere. You could even use Spotify to create suitable playlists that match times of the day, moods and meals.