Putting my life and cooking adventures online has led to the same conversation over and over again when I see friends out in public…“But, Kristyn, you make it look so easy!”
Ok, first, that’s the point of my whole cooking online thing. I want to show you you can do it, too!
Second, I appreciate the compliment. I really do. Because it has taken years of practice, consistency, persistence, and more practice to make it look easy. I don’t say that to scare you out of cooking but to let you know that a lot of days it will feel like a chore and not joyful or loving.
But since learning my way around the kitchen and creating a family mealtime habit it’s not hard or scary anymore. Listen, no one is born knowing how to cook, it’s a skill you must develop (from the mouth of the one and only Julia Childs). Some people have more of a God-given gift right out the gate but it’s still something you need to cultivate and give time to grow.
I want to share a few things I have learned right in my own kitchen. And while it may have started as part of the cooking process, it has led to lifelong lessons.
I put this one first for a reason. Confidence in myself and my abilities has always been something I lacked. And not because of lack of love and support from my parents or Brian, but just because of how my brain is wired. And probably because I was just average at lots of things. Jack of all trades, master of none…ya know?
But after I left the traditional classroom I used cooking as an outlet for myself. Something I could focus my time and attention on while managing my anxiety. Feeding my family fed my soul (it still does). I LOVE cooking for other people, but I had A LOT of trial and error. I would leave the dinner table frustrated and irritated if a meal didn’t go over well. But I wasn’t “failing”, I was learning. Albert Einstein said it best, “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.” And through these early family cooking adventures I started gaining confidence-in myself, in my abilities, and the process of growing and learning. When you plant a seed, you don’t sit around asking the seed, “When are you going to become a tree?” You trust with proper care and patience the seed will eventually become what it’s meant to. Be patient with your journey and have more faith in yourself.
2. Communication Skills
When family mealtime became THE priority in our house we had to pretty quickly learn to communicate better AS a family unit.
First, we had to communicate calendars clearly. If someone had after school or work plans those needed to be worked in to the menu before the week started. This made for smoother days knowing everyone’s whereabouts and plans. Then we made the menu accessible to everyone right in the kitchen so expectations for the day were set.
Second, even though we planned and executed dinners together (most nights) sometimes meals were not always a favorite for someone. We learned after some time and helping Jack communicate that he does not like foods mixed together-he would rather them separate. And Brian would rather not have Mexican more than once a week (though I could eat it everyday). And any meal anyone requests cannot take longer than about 30 minutes of my time to cook. Our communication skills as a whole family have far exceeded what they used to be. We encourage the kids to use use their words to communicate what can be changed next time to make it fit the family better. You are a team and dinner is a time to enjoy a meal and reconnect.
Because we work together consistently on a common goal we all feel empowered to communicate more effectively in every aspect of our lives.
3. Time Management
Cooking takes time. Plus everything that comes along with it takes time too: meal planning, budgeting, shopping, clean-up. But through the years of consistent practice, routine, and habit I have built some mad time management skills and systems. Now I’m spending less time fussing over all that “work” and more time on other priorities. Because it is second nature.
Just like when I was in my 5th and 6th and 7th year of teaching Jr. High and I was able to crank out those lesson plans, manage my classroom, and engage in committees, I can do the same with meals, shopping, planning, and cleaning. But it took a lot of trial and error in those first foundational years.
Now my time management in the kitchen has spilled over to other aspects of our family life. My brain can pretty quickly and efficiently process the steps any one activity will entail because of the lessons I learned in my cooking adventures. Brian, Annie, and Jack have also learned to be at the ready for any of Mom’s Marching Orders, whether it be packing the truck for a hockey tournament or assisting from the clean-up of dinner.
So, yes, I may make it look easy but that’s because I went through the process. You won’t master mealtime in one day, one week, or even one month. Just master a day at a time. And lots of little wins will turn into a long term win. Creating mealtime and cooking habits should not be too high a price to pay to live your most epic life. I am not exaggerating when I say that our time spent in the kitchen and at the dinner table may have drastically changed how our family has grown. It lifted the stress that came with mealtime and encouraged my own family to keep health on the forefront. We have explored new cuisines, tastes, and textures. I want to give everyone the confidence to achieve their wellness and cooking goals so that they can spend more time with their families, in and out of the kitchen!
Make sure to go grab your own Family Menu Guide at my website to learn more tips and tricks to tackling mealtime with your family. The guide will walk you through the exact things that you need to do in a systematic, streamlined way!