How Baking With My Daughter Calms My Inner Perfectionist

June 22, 2016

My name is Naomi and I am a perfectionist.

I am also the mother of 2 children both younger than 4 years old.

These two realities are regularly in conflict with one another.

While I am a perfectionist mom, if you walked into my house or took one of my yoga classes, you might not guess this right away. I’ve worked really hard over the years to loosen the perfectionist grip on my life and actions. Still, my tendency to want to do everything myself and make sure everything is happening in the order I think is best, frequently takes center stage. I might be a little bit of a control freak, too.

Although my husband might tell you differently, there is a method to my madness. I like things to be in their place. I like a certain order, even if no one else understands it.

I’m terrible at delegating tasks. I’d rather do it all myself because I know exactly how I want most of those tasks to be accomplished. And my super high standards are tough to live up to. In service of staying married and keeping my friends, I just usually do everything myself.

I’ve learned to delegate tasks in my work-life, but I still struggle with delegating some of the more mundane daily tasks that could be easily shared. I am most uncomfortable giving up the reins in the kitchen.

The kitchen is my sanctuary. I spend a lot of time in my tiny kitchen. I love making delicious meals. Healthy eating is one of my top priorities. Since I work primarily from home, I have a little more space to make 3 homemade meals a day because I want to. This also makes the kitchen my domain. Milly calls it “mommy’s room.” I am super territorial about my kitchen space and everything that lives in it.

I’ve always preferred to work in my kitchen alone. Most perfectionists prefer to work alone, no matter what they are doing. It’s taken me many Thanksgivings to learn how to delegate tasks to my mom so she can help me with the meal without me having an internal panic attack (I love you, mom! Promise!)

I’d heard all of the benefits of including kids in cooking. Hand eye coordination, completing a task, getting them interested in different foods and involved in what they eat are just a few of the pros to letting kids help out in the kitchen.

Just thinking about it made me break out into hives.

And because I am a glutton for punishment, I tried anyway.

I figured the easiest thing to start with would be baking. Nathan loves chocolate chip cookies, so I make a big batch once a week so he can have his cookie fix every night.

The first few times we tried were rough. To be fair, Milly was also much younger. She made huge messes and wanted to do more than I wanted her to do. I kept my temper in check, but felt frustrated that I wasn’t enjoying this mother-daughter bonding opportunity more.

We kept trying though. And slowly, over time, i’ve figured out how to include her with age appropriate tasks. I’ve also gotten ok with the fact that it’s going to be messier than if I was making the cookies myself.

Someone once explained to me that kids are like little explorers. They are constantly discovering new things they’ve never seen or done or experienced before. The only way they can learn is through this exploration and discovery. Kids need to make messes and learn to clean them up. They need to learn how to listen to and take instructions. Kids need to make mistakes. Adults need to do all of these things, too, we’ve just had more practice.

When I think about it, this isn’t so different from learning a new yoga pose or attempting to implement a new habit or routine into my life. I teach people to allow themselves to get a little messy as they are learning and trying something new. The fun is in the exploration. Growth happens through the discovery of new skills or greater capacity, even while making a bit of a mess. The process of transformation is not geared towards perfectionists and control freaks. The process of transformation is more ideal for those who are willing to be a little imperfect and to learn through the mistakes, as well as the successes.

So Milly and I keep baking together. She loves it because she’s proud of what she has done. She likes to be “a big helper” and loves to make cookies for her daddy. She’s learning to keep the flour from flying out of the bowl and to hold the cup measure steady. She’s also learned that cookie dough is delicious. She asks to lick the spatula after every batch now and I’ve even caught her poking her fingers in the batter.

Bonus of vegan baking is no imminent danger of salmonella. I’m including my tried and true vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe below.

I’m learning to loosen my vice grip on the kitchen. Or at least on cookie making. I’m also teaching my daughter to love being in the kitchen and to know that she can make her own food. I’m passing on my love of making delicious food to my daughter and not much makes me happier than that.

I’m also learning to let Milly make her messes and to not get angry at her or internally frustrated when flour goes flying or if blobs of sticky batter end up on the walls, the floor, or in our hair.

My inner perfectionist might not totally approve, but I think it’s time for her to take a little vacation. She hasn’t had any time off in a long time.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

(varied slightly from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)

Makes 12 large cookies


2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup coconut sugar or date sugar

1 tbs tapioca flour

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup canola oil (I’ve also used melted coconut oil, which works nicely, too!)

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (For gluten-free peeps, I’ve made this with spelt and garbanzo flours as well, with good results. I recommend mixing the spelt and garbanzo)

1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 365 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the sugars in a bowl, mixing well to get out the clumps. Add in the tapioca and mix in thoroughly. Add in the milk, then the oil. Stir vigorously — it’s important to mix the oil in immediately to get a good consistency of your batter. Once you have a smooth mixture, add in the vanilla and stir it up.

Add in the salt, baking soda, and 1 cup of your flour. Stir until all flour is mixed in; then add remaining flour. Once all flour is combined into a sticky batter, add in the chocolate chips and mix them throughout.

To make larger cookies, you’ll scoop out about 2 Tbs worth of batter. Smaller cookies work, too– you’ll just need to adjust the baking time. Place the scoop on your baking sheet and smoosh down into a circle. I usually cook 4 of these big boys at a time. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool on a drying rack.

Make sure to lick the bowl clean.

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