We’ve always involved the kids in the kitchen and while it is true that the new stirrers make giant messes, and the new choppers need extra knife supervision and they all make the kitchen 12 times more messy that it would be otherwise, it’s been mostly worth it.
Because, despite the frustratingly slow rate at which the giant mess and the meal gets made, cooking with the kids is usually an enjoyable experience. And now, all that mess and extra time is starting to pay off. I have girls that can grate cheese and stir without spilling. Kids that peel garlic and chop onions and one girl who is really good at making piles of flour and then slowly transferring the entire pile to her shirt and the floor.
But the best part is that they are now starting to take initiative in the kitchen. Ivy has (with help on the heavy pots) cooked dinner for us, Clara can be found making her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Jane can turn a giant pot of perfectly good turkey stock into stone soup.
Mostly worth it.