My Life Is Not A Rice Krispies Commercial

I made frosted cookies with Kendall today. It’s not something I do very often, but I felt like, okay, it’s the holidays, we’ll bake some friggin cookies, I guess.

Bah humbug?

Listen, it’s not that I hate Christmas cookies, or even baking all that much. It’s that I HATE doing it with children trying to “help.” It could be Easter or Valentines or any other holiday cookie, or craft for that matter, I just dislike doing it alongside my child.

Judge me. Judge me hard. I am not that mother who willingly breaks out the paints, scissors and glue every day. I’m not that mother who smiles while watching the kids stir the flour and laughs when they send a plume of white dust into the air that lands all over their shirt and the floor. My life is not a Rice Krispies commercial.ย 

Have you ever watched Martha Stewart craft with small children? She gets all jumpy and demanding. She chides them for not lining the rick-rack up along the edge of the recycled can just so. I used to judge her. How could a mother be so… unnatural with children in a setting as fun as turning an old can of soup into a pencil holder?

Oh, I get it now, Martha. I feel you. They’re messy and they don’t listen, and, seriously, how hard IS IT to just listen and put the thing on the piece it belongs and if you JUST LISTEN and SLOW DOWN you will not MAKE A MESS and OH MY GOD JUST LET ME DO IT.

Of course, that’s the dialogue playing in my head, not coming out of my mouth. I’m not that mean….most of the time.ย Instead, I’m all tensed up and forcing a fake smile, all the while surveying the damage and trying to covertly corral the mess. So, that’s why this is really a rare occasion around here. I getย that this is a button easily pushed for me, and I avoid it as much as possible.

I joke with friends that we don’t ever paint at home because we pay his school to do that with him. Really, though? TRUTH.

I dont’ know why I’m like this. I’m a crafty person, and I’m not a neat freak. Growing up, my mother was amazingly patient and so wonderful about including us in things like this. I had the best role model for this stuff. ย It’s just something about the uncontrolled chaos that makes my anxiety rise and leaves me longing for a glass of red wine to wash down those freshly, messily frosted sugar cookies.

That ends this chapter in Adventures In Parenting As A Control Freak.

*Footnote: If you are an eggnog lover, you really need to make yourself some eggnog icing for your cookies.

Kendall is 3.5 years old, and he’s a really great “maker.” Hopefully he’ll be good enough to “make” things all on his own soon… and then clean them up.


50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
Available now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble


  1. ALL. Of. This. I cannot enjoy letting my kids “help.” I suffer from debilitating anxiety the entire time they’re making a HUGE ASS MESS of everything. And yeah, the effing commercials make me feel like shit. I’m NOT that mother. I’m just not. Pass the wine and Xanax.

  2. SO GLAD you decided to blog about this one. I have been feeling terrible for not wanting to craft/cook with my 3 year old. Even worse when I am pleading with him to “JUST PLEASE stick to the color wonder markers today.” I’ll let him use measuring cups in the bath to make up for it, it’s the same thing, right?

  3. i don’t have kids yet and i completely agree with you all.

    i cant stand the husband helping. or friends. ANYONE.
    everything has to be done my way. i have OCD about such things. tho if i create messes, in certain circumstances i don’t see them, if they hubby makes any tiny effect of mess. i go off the wall crazy. i am a crafty person. hopefully my kids will be, but my mother never sat down and did them with me that i remember. when she tried to include me in cooking, SHE was too controlling and i hated it, when i WANTED to join in, she said no, i only learnt to cook when i was about 20 and had to due to dietary issues. *and breathe* i cant imagine all that mess, and the flour and the icing sugar and the egg in their hair… just NO.

  4. Pretty much sums my view on baking and crafts up as well! It’s so fun to smile through gritted teeth while thinking at the same time why I do this to myself ๐Ÿ™‚ But the kid has fun, and I guess that’s the point. Making oh so sweet memories with them while dreaming of the beer I’m going to down after their bedtime.

  5. I am totally the same as you. I am not a great cook/baker to begin with and having children in the kitchen with me makes me jumpy. My mom never liked us disturbing her kitchen so I guess I get it from her. But she was a wonderful cook. She never taught me her great talent. Now I don’t feel so bad as there is someone else out there that has trouble cooking and crafting with their kids!

  6. I baked cookies with my son (2.5) for the first time this weekend. After we poured the first ingredient into the bowl, he asked, “Can we eat cookies now?” Needless to say, it was a long, long day while we made dough, chilled it, cut out cookies, baked them, let them cool, and frosted them. It was just like “Are we there yet?” but with a big mess in the kitchen.

  7. This is why I send my kids outside to paint naked…every thing can be hosed down!

    As for the cookies, I SO feel you! I may let him mix for a second, but putting hands that have been likely scratching his butt or picking his nose AFTER washing his hands to help all over cooked food I plan to eat? No thanks. I’ll pass on that Mother of the Year award.

  8. this is hilarious. partly because I’m pretty sure I will be the same type of mommy (i’m due in February with my first). I, too, am crafty and not super neat freak, but not too keen on helpers in the kitchen. or big floury messes ๐Ÿ™‚ I also have an unbelievably patient mother (and husband – thank God one of us is!). I also have a profound need for my daily glass of red. whatever gets you through those sugar cookies right?

  9. I used to make cookies and crafts with my kids. Well, with my first born daughter. About 18 years ago. Now, my 11 year old probably has never done anything like that with me, because I remember. I remember what a huge pain in the butt it was.

    For the record, my aforementioned 18 year old who did actually get to make things with me used to wake up every morning and tell me “roll out’ which meant she wanted to roll out dough with the pin and cut out shapes. Every day I went through the hassle of making cookie dough, letting her ‘roll out,’ then frosting and baking them, only to have her not eat them. I realized it wasn’t making cookies she really wanted- she just like to shape them. Thank goodness for playdough. Once I realized that, it saved me a ton of clean up time in the kitchen.

  10. Three things must be said before I continue my comment:
    1) I love your honesty! Way to go for trying to bake cookies even though it was pretty stressful for you…
    2) Even though I read Baby Rabies a lot, I am not a mom yet and will not be for a few years. What can I say, the blog makes me laugh…
    3) I am actually going to school to be an elementary school teacher.

    Your comment about painting and how you pay the school to do that stuff with your kids is truly what a lot of parents think! It appears that teachers magically have the patience and somehow can get kids to finish a project in a timely manner and without destroying the room… this may or may not be true! I think the biggest think that teachers do that parents don’t when they do crafts and stuff with kids is a massive amount of prep time. Teachers (or their helpers) will literally prep crafts and activities for hours so that it goes smoother in a classroom. That would be my one piece of advice (yes, be it from a person who is not a mom, but I have worked in daycare and many classrooms): PREP!!! And lots of it!!!! It will make your life simpler (in the long run) and maybe, just maybe… more enjoyable? Kids (especially preschool/toddler age) don’t usually have the patience to do a full activity AND clean up. It might be a good idea to have them help with just part of something, and something that is age-appropriate for them.
    Happy crafting/baking/mommy-ing!

  11. You should read the comments Martha Stewart’s daughter made about growing up with her as a Mom.

    I only think it’s mostly adults that want crafts/baking to be perfect for display and sharing. I know for a fact that a child will make a mess and still love whatever they made so long as Mommy/Daddy are proud of them for doing it.

    The conclusion? You are not alone. We are not Martha Stewart or June Cleaver…

  12. Michelle Nolan on

    I’m way too much of a ‘clean as you go’ control freak in the kitchen. Fortunately, C has a Grammy and an Auntie that let her make as big of a mess in the kitchen as she wants. My sister in law let C help her make home made play-doh…WITH GLITTER….yeah. That’s never gonna happen at my house.

  13. YES!!! I always dreamed of having fun by baking with my kiddos. Then I tried it with a 16 month old and I hated it. Our oldest is almost 3 and has almost (almost) started to be helpful sometimes, but most of the time it’s just a pain. Just the other day I was telling my husband that I wanted to make some cut-out cookies but that I couldn’t do them with our daughter because I wanted them to be pretty (not to mention the massive mess she creates). *sigh* I’ll sit on the “uptight mommy” couch with you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. This is a huge struggle for me. I’m a massive control freak, particularly in the kitchen, even with other adults. And my child wants nothing more than to “help” when I cook. Except that her brand of help involves stirring so vigorously that half the ingredients end up on the counter. It’s frazzling.

    But I read this blog post, somewhere, which I can’t find, that really gave me food for thought. It was a reminder to parents to unclench their butt cheeks and let kids help because things/messes don’t matter, relationships matter, people matter. That in 20 years we won’t remember the flour on the counter but they will remember that we respected and trusted them enough to let them help. That really struck a chord with me because I realized that, hate it as a I do, I have to actively let her help. (I know that you know this already, which is why you made cookies with him, I just thought it was a particularly helpful way of framing it.)

    But paint? Moon sand? Playdo? Hell no. That’s what school is for.

  15. CRAP! This is just like that time in junior high when all the cool kids were sitting at the cool kid table, all nodding and agreeing with each other, and I was, like, “They speak a language I don’t understand.”

    I USED to care. I used to be organized and detailed. I used to manage the cookie-making messes. I swear.

    Now I just think it’s awesome that there are still moms in this world with enough energy left to care about flour-cloud plumes.

  16. Oh my God, I am laughing so hard at this… As I sit here COVERED IN FLOUR and staring at my kitchen, which is also COVERED IN FLOUR because I thought it would be “fun” to have my 2 YO help me make salt dough ornaments. Clearly I am insane. Sigh… Also she now has a tummy ache from eating salt dough.

  17. Heather Hunter on

    Way to be honest and f*$# anyone who’s silently judging you. It’s another mess to clean up. On top of the meal cooking & cleaning, laundry, floors, baths, pets…Today, I’ve already picked up every single toy and book in my son’s room, cleaned up after playdough and all the legos that were dumped. It’s not even 1:30.
    So what if we don’t break out all that creative stuff every day? We do what we can to survive another day.

  18. Thank You!
    I’ve secretly felt this way since my daughter was old enough to want to help. I’d grudgingly try to include her, but seriously, I’d practically have panic attacks the whole time.

    You’ve made me feel a lot more justified, and not alone, in feeling this way. Especially with all the other commenters. Thank you too, ladies.

    So I’ve ended up making a lot of the crafty projects I planned on doing with the girls while they’re sleeping. For some of them I just prep them the night before and let them help with, like, gluing. So uptight, lol. But at least I’m not alone!

  19. Holy cow… I’m so glad there’s a crowd of us. My critter is just getting old enough to start “helping” and it drives me nuts. I know I “have” to let him help so he can learn things, but it would be so much faster/easier if I just did it myself! Totally feeling you on the “we pay his school to let him paint” thing too. I do enough cleaning as it is, without wiping tempura out of the curtains!

  20. I *so* get this! I feel the exact. same. way. We have done some cookie baking as well, and I have some more planned, but I am secretly thinking I may do it when he’s at school.

    I blame society for the way we feel – “they” must be at fault. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. I can’t stand my 4 1/2 year old “helping” in the kitchen, however, the hubs has no problem with it. Probably because she interacts so differently with him. I have taken the time to teach her how to really help me with other things such as laundry. She can fold a dish towel like no other! And with art projects, I just let her paint whatever she wants with no imput from me. If I try to help it just doesn’t go well. I’ve learned to “let go” when it comes to certain things.

  22. The only thing that keeps me in check is my mantra, “What’s more important? My child’s feelings or trying to make something “‘right’?”

    Well, that, and I do some the “right” way separately. This is why we have two advent calendars, too. One for me to open one door a day and one for her to be all random and “let’s open all the doors right now!”

    I am in total agreement about painting and “that’s what school is for.”

    I also give myself major pats on the back for the state of her wall decorations (it’s the only way I can stand it.) It was painful, but I let her decide where they all go – it is her room, after all. They are all bunched together, with no sense of white space or balance. Drives me batty but she likes it.

  23. We’ve never painted here. Ever. And my doctor laughed when I was trying to explain my anxiety over play doh colors being mixed together. When I bake & JD “helps”, I give him his own (empty) bowl & spoon and keep his chair just far enough away so he can’t touch anything.

  24. I NEVER comment on posts, mainly because I never feel like I have anything fabulous to say, but this post here spoke to me. It smacked me upside my overly anxious and control freakout out head! I have an almost 4 year old that always wants to “help.” He is a sweet sweet boy and can genuinely help with some things, but I prevent/avoid/secretly craft and bake after bedtime so that I don’t have to relinquish control and clean up extra messes. Perhaps its because I feel strained to the ultimate limit with time as it is, perhaps its because I am a neurotic mess, perhaps I need to take a chill pill (can we still use this reference?). Either way, I wonder if I am holding him back too much or missing out on memories that I will regret not having later. Maybe it will be easier and more fun when he gets a bit older and learns to listen better?? Thank you for confirming that I am not alone though!

  25. I can so totally understand your feelings! My little guy isn’t here yet (he’s due in March) but I already know I’m totally going to struggle with this. I’m not a clean freak but I am definitely a control freak (no doubt about that). I really, really hope I can work though this though. I’m a firm believe that the more that kinds are involved with stuff the more pride they take in it. So it logically makes sense to me that if a kid helps make dinner they are more likely to eat it and not be as picky. Since my hubby is the pickiest eater I’ve ever met I know I’ll have to overcome him to get my kid to eat well. So please, if you ever figure out how to un-bunch about this please share it with us!

  26. Oh my goodness…. I was, literally, just telling my MIL the Martha thing the other day. I am so anal about things like that… and I used to be a preschool teacher. You can imagine how my stress level rose at every art time. Hahaha

  27. HA! I was just having this conversation with my dad today. I do not do artsy crafty stuff, either. I just don’t have the patience. That IS what school is for, darn it.
    The trouble is I just had to pull my 3.5yo out of school (had another baby who needs to be germ free for a while) and so now I feel like I’m letting him down that I’m not doing this stuff. the guilt!

  28. THANK YOU for putting that into words. Some part of me knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt like that. So nice to have it confirmed.

  29. I am right there with you on this one. The control freak in me just can’t stand handle it. It’s not just that they don’t listen and make a huge mess, its that they take 20 times longer mixing the batter or pouring glitter than it should. My older girls know that I am crafty, so they always ask if we can do different craft projects, especially around the holidays and I just cringe at the thought.

  30. Oh goodness! I may not be a mom but I can TOTALLY relate! I am a teacher and have 25 first graders in my class this year with NO teacher’s aide/parapro. I agree with the earlier comment about the prep time and I really do overthink every single detail of any craft we do…. then it still makes me cringe when they just will not listen no matter what my directions were, make a mess all over my classroom, then they proceed to cry when they ruin it BECAUSE they didn’t listen… lol. I’ll trade your one for my 25? He looks adorable!

  31. This? Exactly why I don’t think I could ever be a good SAHM. I like sending him off to daycare to do the messy stuff, and then I just get to play and tumble around and read to him and not be all messy.

  32. Pingback: everything gal | Christmas cookies with the kids??

  33. Thank God I’m not the only one. I’ve gotten better but I’m still very tense and trying to keep the mess contained and all “Ohmigod! Don’t touch anything!” at times. What helps the process go smoother is if I prep before as much as I can. It always me to be a control freak but not be an asshole parent.

  34. Thank God i am not the only one! I have 5 kids and my house is already always a wreck. Throw in craft time and i am ready to go sit in a dark corner and rock back in forth. I love my littles but man do they make me long for a bourbon/Valium cocktail!!

  35. Pingback: Holiday Baking With Kids Without Losing Your Mind (and Recipe)

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.