"Can I help...?"
So you've agreed to make a million fairy cakes for the creche/nursery/playgroup/school/village (delete as appropriate) summer fete, you're up to your armpits in flour, eggs and sugar when you hear the dreaded words spring forth from your toddler's mouth...
"Can I help....?"
Now you don't want to discourage willingness to help and cooking as a kid is FUN! But it can be such a hassle (ahhh the agonies of parenthood!) - not only will they, you and everything within a 50-mile radius get covered in all the ingredients, but they'll be balancing precariously on a chair at the worktop.
I used to use two chairs - one for them to stand on, the other one next to it with the seat facing away from them and the back against the stand-on chair so they were blocked in on one side and I'd stand on the other - are you with me? It worked quite well...
Now if I'd been smart then I'd have thought of this rather nifty and stupidly clever idea that I read about over at BoingBoing the other day - use the open dishwasher door as the perfect self-cleaning child-sized cooking area; genius!
No more balancing on chairs, all the ingredients that escaped the bowl (or never actually made it in) go on to the door and when you're done...bung the bowls and utensils inside, close and clean.
I read with mild amusement the 'arguement' that doing this would irrevocably damage your dishwasher by bending its hinges - but these are toddlers we're talking about who just want to mess around with flour and cook fairy cakes or learn how to pour drinks (that was another top use for an open dishwasher door) not kneading vast quantites of bread dough.
If you've got any top tips that are so simple you'll make me wonder why on earth, during all my 16 years of parenthood, I hadn't thought of them before then do drop me a line!