Making the most of multi-generation holidays- cooking edition

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week. It was a refreshing change of pace around our house to have a few days of no plans and lots of family time. One of the things our family likes to do together around the holidays is cook or bake- because the end result is usually pretty tasty! 

Getting to the end result in the kitchen definitely involves some activity modifications in our house. With a two and four year old for helpers, you have to adapt the activity for the most success and enjoyment of all participating parties. 

So, last week, while we were in the kitchen I thought about all the ways in which I've worked with clients to adapt their homes and ways I've helped them adapt routines to adjust with aging or changing abilities. It seems like a timely concept to talk about, with Christmas and Hanukkah right around the corner- how could holiday activities be modified to incorporate multiple generations? 

When I started Home Field Advantage I thought it would be more geared towards the physical modifications people would make to their homes. While it's the key component, it took my first home assessment to realize the activity analysis component that is so ingrained in Occupational Therapy, meant I would be helping adapt routines as well. This is the reason most initial home assessments take 3-4 hours to complete, we go through EVERYTHING the client does during their daily routine. Along the way I try to help modify so the activity becomes simpler and safer where ever possible. 

Back to the holidays... 

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your holiday baking/cooking routines.

1. Seated activities- The best example for this is sitting to prep food (chopping, cutting, measuring) or decorating cookies. Avoiding or minimizing prolonged periods of standing can help conserve energy and reduce pain/stiffness. It's also a nice way for adults and children to be closer to eye level with one another and improves safety for smaller children who may be learning new cooking or baking tasks.

2. Incorporating adaptive equipment- I could write pages on this, but I'll summarize.. Adaptive equipment can range from cutting boards for one handed use, built up utensils, specialized tools for cutting or scooping food, to walker trays to bring food from kitchen to table. There is a tool for almost every use out there and most are designed to improve safety and participation with activity. It's a great opportunity for kids to learn about these devices if they are going to be helping in the kitchen. 

3. Pacing or energy conservation- Spending time together during the holidays creates great memories and traditions. It also means the pace of life slows down, a meal may take all day to make instead of the 30 minute special during a regular weeknight at home. If you're going to be cooking a big meal- like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, take the opportunities between basting the turkey and making the mashed potatoes to rest and relax. More hands to help also reduces the workload on everyone. 

4. Memory keeping- Studies on stages of psychosocial development in the human life span promote engagement in activity as a way to adjust better to the natural aging process and have a higher quality of life. One way to promote this is through shared experience and memory keeping with loved ones. We live in a technology driven world and it's easy to take a photo, but what about learning how to cook Grandma's apple pie? Sitting down and going through the steps to pass on skills and knowledge is an important component of the aging process for both younger and older individuals.

Again, I hope you all had a great holiday last week and are looking forward to the next few busy and celebratory weeks ahead. These are a few things you may want to consider as the holiday season continues on. 

If you have questions about adaptive equipment and how that can simplify working in your kitchen...

Or, modifying home for temporary house guests..

Contact me 

I'd love to set up a time to meet or talk about how Home Field Advantage, and the services we offer that can work for you.