Do you sometimes bake with the kids? Always seems like such a good idea at the time! But Nicola Moriarty shares her reality of getting all Martha Stewart with the small people.

  1. Check that you actually have eggs – before you suggest baking cupcakes to the children. The last time you made that mistake, you ended up promising them a family trip to Disneyland just to get them to stop crying. You’re still not sure how you’re going to get out of that one.
  2. Get out two mixing bowls, two wooden spoons, two sets of measuring cups, two sieves, basically just two of everything. Now, when I say two of everything, it’s not good enough to have one large bowl and one medium sized bowl. Or one long wooden spoon and one slightly shorter wooden spoon. I mean two exactly matching versions of everything. Down to the colour of the bowls and the wood grain of the spoons. This is not due to a certain nuance in the artisanal requirements of some organic, spiritually centred recipe that insists on perfect balance. This is because you know that otherwise you will hear, “But I wanted to use that spoon!” Wonder if you are doing a terrible job as a parent because you’re not teaching them to share. Decide you don’t give a shit because you don’t want to listen to them fight. Feel smug in your superior level of foresight.
  3. Tell the children you’re making cupcakes. Feel like a superstar as they gather around you, whooping with delight. Realise you forgot to make sure you had cooking butter. Panic. Check the fridge. Discover the cooking butter. Thank the Gods.
  4. Start gathering ingredients. The youngest one suddenly bursts into tears. Ask her what’s wrong. She tells you that she wanted to get the milk out of the fridge. Put ALL of the ingredients back in the pantry and fridge. Ask her to get the ingredients out for you. Wait patiently while she struggles to balance the milk, the eggs and the butter all in one go. Weigh up the pros and cons of helping her before she drops the egg carton. Decide that a few broken eggs is a better option than her losing her sh%t because, ‘she can carry them BY HERSELF, Mummy!’
  5. Begin to question the wisdom in suggesting baking cupcakes in the first place.
  6. Wonder if it’s too early for a glass of wine.
  7. Check the time.
  8. F***. It’s only 9.00am.
  9. Offer one child the stepladder and the other child the stool to stand on while they “help.” It doesn’t matter which way around you offer these things to your children – either way, they will both want the thing they don’t have. Stop feeling smug about your superior level of foresight from earlier.
  10. Start helping them to measure out the ingredients. DON’T make the mistake of pouring the sugar into the cup for them. For God’s sake, Mum, don’t you realise they can do it THEMSELVES?
  11. Count how many days there are left of the school holidays. Cry on the inside.
  12. Check the time again. Can you have a glass of wine now? It’s only 9.05.
  13. Realise that while you were daydreaming about wine, the kids have decided to ignore the steps of the recipe and jump ahead to their favourite part: cracking the eggs. There is now egg yolk all over the kitchen.
  14. Spend the next five years of your life trying to get the broken bits of shell out of their mixing bowls.
  15. Now they’ve moved onto their second-favourite step: sifting the flour. Make a half-hearted attempt at showing them how to tap the sieve gently. Accept that they will ignore your tips and will bang the sieve wildly and gleefully against the side of the bowl, causing the kitchen to become filled with a white powdery haze reminiscent of a post-bomb war zone. Ask yourself why you thought it was a good idea to interrupt them from a perfectly good episode of My Little Pony just to have them destroy the kitchen. Further question why on earth you decided to clean the kitchen first. Are you an idiot?
  16. Get out the cupcake trays while they’re busy spilling milk everywhere. Realise you forgot to preheat the oven. Shrug. These cupcakes aren’t going to be winning any baking awards anyway.
  17. Have a sudden brainwave. Alcohol is allowed in the morning – provided you put the right spin on it: Champagne breakfast! Mimosas! Run to the fridge in excitement. Scour the contents. Realise you have neither champagne nor orange juice. Wonder if you could make a variation of a mimosa using an apple and blackcurrant juice pop-top and cooking sherry. Decide you might have a small problem. Settle for an instant coffee instead. Discover that all of the milk is gone. Re-count how many days are left of the school holidays praying that you miscounted earlier. Realise that you did. There are still four weeks to go, not three like you first thought. Why did you re-count? Five minutes ago, things were better. You are an idiot.
  18. It’s time to spoon the cupcake mixture into the trays. Notice that the little one has added cornflakes to her mixture. Wonder when that happened. Notice that the older one has added MnMs to her mixture. How did she find your secret stash? Make a mental note to find a new hiding spot.
  19. Realise that instead of halving all of the measurements in order to let them have a mixing bowl each, you actually doubled all of the ingredients. There is far too much mixture for your cupcake tray. That is not a euphemism. Consider sitting yourself down in front of Netflix with an entire bowl of raw cupcake mixture and a spoon. Screw your New Year’s Resolution Healthy Eating Plan – it was never going to work anyway.
  20. Tentatively suggest to the children that you might not be able to cook all of the mixture. Sense impending tears. Laugh and say, ‘I was joking sweetheart!’ Find several random baking vessels to fill with cupcake mixture. A pie tin. A gravy jug. A flower pot. Who care’s as long as it can house cake mix.
  21. Finally put the cupcakes into the oven. The oven that is stone cold because you still didn’t preheat.
  22. Ask the kids if you can help them lick the bowls. See the expression of derisive humour cross their little faces. They are not going to share with you.
  23. Set the timer for 45 minutes and know that you are going to be asked, ‘Are they ready yet? Are they ready yet? Are they ready yet?’ every 2 minutes until they’re done. This means you will be asked this question roughly 66 times. You should probably consider putting headphones in and listening to that relaxation CD you asked for for Christmas. Wait a second… you asked for that CD, but did your husband actually buy it for you? No. He didn’t. Remember to suggest to the kids that they should bake cupcakes again with Daddy this weekend. Chuckle fondly to yourself at this thought.
  24. When the cupcakes are done – okay a little overdone because you didn’t hear the timer ding because you were hiding in the backyard for just five minutes of peace from the constant ‘Are they ready yet? questions’ – sit down with the kids and several of their toys for a tea-party. Start enjoying yourself – the older one is putting on a funny voice for the teddy bear to make the little one laugh. And the cupcakes are actually pretty good – for example, the cornflakes add a nice crunch and you’re impressed with the little one’s culinary flair. Decide it was all worth it because who cares about mess and broken eggs and spilt milk and a gravy jug that it never going to scrub clean from the burnt bits of cake mixture – because you and your kids are having a ball.
  25. Feel a tiny bit glad that there’s actually still four weeks left of the school holidays – and not three like you first thought. But remind yourself to buy some champagne and orange juice next time you’re out at the shops.