Baking Sugar Cookies with Kids: Is the mess worth it?

baking with kids
photo by Gpoint Studio

How do you feel about baking with kids?

This story takes place in my kitchen. The previous night was our local Christmas light ceremony. The warm weather brought 3,000 people instead of the usual 300. Thus, sugar cookies were gone in a flash and Santa was a faraway red dot against the dark sky. My kids were bummed they didn’t get a cookie, so I decided we should bake them together.

Here we are, aprons donned. My husband was shocked that both kids had chef hats.

Of course, they both had chef hats. 

When I look at this photo, I see adorable miniature versions of my son and daughter. I remember their little voices and I want to keep them there forever. Also, I see my bangs and it chases away any and all thoughts of “maybe I should try bangs again…”

Oh, what a memorable baking experience…

My two-year-old cherub accidentally knocked the flour canister onto the kitchen rug. Our two dogs walked through the dusty piles. Somehow my clear instruction for them to stop moving didn’t register. With each raised octave of my voice, they became more terrified, so eight flour-coated paw prints covered the whole first floor of our home. Dogs.

Next entered the vacuum. The vacuum hose suddenly didn’t work.

One would then find me outside, beating the rug with the first available beating-type-implement, which happened to be a plastic golf club. Each swing of my arm emptied me of any goodwill or early season Christmas cheer. As if on cue, the head of the golf club flew off and months’ old wet sand poured out onto the rug. Because, of course, it would be full of sand.

Seems about right, huh? I try to make some memories. I try to redeem the previous night without cookies. Then, in the span of 2 minutes, I have a house in flour disarray, quaking dogs, and a bunch of sand where it shouldn’t exist in November.

The thing about baking with kids is that if your expectations are moderately high, it’s going to be hard.

It’s not as easy or calm as we imagine. If you even make it to the rolled-out dough step, they waste tons of space by inefficiently positioning the cookie cutters. And yet, memories are made all the same. In fact, maybe even better memories are made with all the hitches in the plan and all the cross-contamination with fingers in the dough.

Back in 2016, we pushed through the baking and the cookies finished. They weren’t that great, but it doesn’t matter. We made cookies together again the next year and the next and we definitely will this year. My kids look forward to it, and so do I. They are now seven and five, which is a vast improvement in terms of following directions. They can crack eggs like a boss and corral a flour-covered dog as good as I can at age 34.

Will this year’s batch be perfect?

Nope. Will there be dough-eating and flying flour and me taking some deep breaths? Yes.

They’ve outgrown those aprons and chef hats and while that breaks my heart in one sense, things really do just keep getting more fun.

In my opinion, the mess is worth it.

On the plus side, this time around, my vacuum works fine and I don’t have awkward bangs.

I am an Iowa native. I married my community college sweetheart and we are biological/adoptive parents to four kids plus two dogs. You can find me working on occasion as a respiratory therapist, visiting a thrift store, reading fiction, drinking coffee, contemplating bangs, or rearranging furniture to cozy up our hundred-year-old house in Council Bluffs.