Behind the scenes of a chaotic kids activity with session leader Kate...
The cameras are always on and I think (hope?!) that the families that join us appreciate the chaos and the utter NORMALITY we bring to their day. Yes we do post pictures of the finished dishes on social media, showcasing what we have made, but anyone who has joined us for a session will know that so often, the actual cooking process is very much NOT Instagram ready!
Well I don’t know about you, but I think we all deserve a bit of a pat on the back! #parentinginapandemic has been an emotional rollercoaster in our household – and I am sure I am not alone in feeling like that! We started, as I’m sure many of you did, with the best of intentions, Joe Wicks every morning and all sorts of fun activities planned! People posting pictures on social media every day full of exciting ‘adventures’ and all the amazing things they had been doing whilst stuck in lockdown. Children’s groups and sessions moved online and so we had MORE to occupy our busy children and MORE impressive pics to upload to Instagram… After a while, maybe a couple of weeks, maybe more (it’s all a bit of a blur!) the novelty wore off and the mundane boredom set in. Life was exhausting, even though I felt like we didn’t actually DO anything… my efforts to entertain the kids got less and less and our attempts at Joe Wicks PE, Cosmic Kids Yoga, and any other online based kid's activity fizzled out. I even stopped joining in with the daily preschool zoom sessions because my 3.5 year old just wasn’t interested and the 1.5 year old just wanted to break the laptop (it’s still missing the H key button!)
However, despite my waning enthusiasm for the situation (which, let’s be honest, was never that high to begin with!) the kids still needed looking after and entertaining to some extent and of course, feeding! Oh my goodness, so much feeding! The snack requests were never ending and any money we had saved on not being able to go out anywhere we definitely ended up spending on food (often strange food too, with random stuff being unavailable for weeks on end!) So when, during one of our team catch up meetings, in between the kids’ third breakfast and mid-morning snack, it was suggested that we take our fantastic face to face sessions online, I was a little skeptical… I worried people would think it was gimmicky and just another 'Instagram pic' opportunity. Which is not what Kids Kitchen is about at all! What about the community spirit? Meeting other parents? Letting the kids get stuck in and hands on with whatever we were doing? People had already posted thousands of snaps of them baking with their kids; #bananabread anyone?! Would this just be seen as another ‘picture perfect’ lockdown activity…?
"We so enjoyed this session, and to be honest I just couldn't picture how the magic of Kids Kitchen could happen over zoom, without us all being in the same room, but the magic was there. It really was a joy to be cooking together in different places, loved hearing and seeing people's different ideas." – session attendee feedback
"Loved it. Super chilled, the kids enjoyed it and because it was online they could wander off when they wanted, making me more relaxed." – session attendee feedback
It turns out I shouldn’t have worried! The sessions have been a great success! I think a big part of that is that we, the session leaders, have generally been running the sessions with our own kids running riot around us. We always have two of us there so that when one of us suddenly has to stop briefly to break up a fight or clean up ALL the flour from the floor, the other one can step in. But the cameras are always on and I think (hope?!) that the families that join us appreciate the chaos and the utter NORMALITY we bring to their day. Yes we do post pictures of the finished dishes on social media, showcasing what we have made, but anyone who has joined us for a session will know that so often, the actual cooking process is very much NOT Instagram ready! From the hummous that turned out bright orange after my daughter dumped the entire bottle of paprika in there to the time that 'someone' spilled flour in their computer mic and sounded like a robot for the rest of the session! It is real life, juggling the kids whilst you try to make lunch. And – BONUS – it turns out that getting them involved in the cooking means that, for that hour at least, they aren’t continually demanding snacks! Maybe because they eat half the ingredients as we go along… but that’s ok too!
"My kids aren't so keen at the moment (eldest in particular) but I still do it because it makes me cook a different lunch and I love the company (my youngest who's two does start off quite keen, and eats most of the veg she chops before it gets in the bowl) I rarely join in the chatting but I still feel a part of it and I'm always a bit sad when it's over!" – session attendee feedback
It seems that, even without all being there together, we have still managed to maintain that ‘community spirit’ that is so important to Kids Kitchen. Whilst the session leaders are always there, camera on, mic on (unless they fill it with flour or their toddler has a particularly dramatic meltdown), those attending the session can choose to leave their camera off and only un-mute themselves if they want to say something, so there is absolutely no pressure to even get dressed before you join us if you don’t want to!