When my first child was born, my husband's coworker gave us a wooden step stool as a baby gift. It was a beautiful wooden one, about 12 inches tall, white with lavender treads and our daughter's name carved in it in a sweet font. That's nice, I thought, but why would anyone ever gift an apartment-dweller such a large gift?
Well, obviously she was an experienced mom!
Fast forward about a year, and it was probably the most-used item in the kitchen for my pint-sized sous-chef, who was always curious about what was going on up on the countertop and full of offers to "help" with whatever I was doing. We used it all the time, and some of my favorite kitchen memories — baking Christmas cookies, the time I asked her to toss the kale and she literally threw it in the air — have that step stool front and center.
So when my second child was about to turn one, it was time to get a second step stool (a recommendation from another experienced mom: Always have two of everything!). We searched high and low for the exact same one, but it had been discontinued. I was upset. I wanted the girls to have matching stools! We went for the next best thing: a plain white one. We painted the treads a shiny bubble-gum pink so it would go with, but not match exactly, her sister's lavender version. I intended to paint her name on it, just like the other one, but haven't gotten around to it yet (typical second-child stuff!).
Buy: Kids Storage Step-Up, $44 at Target
These days, both step stools are pretty beat-up. There are princess stickers stomped into the treads, paint chipping off the corners, and a big scrape along the side where we squeezed the new one in next to the radiator. They are never totally clean. The pink one has a storage compartment in the top step full of fridge magnets and whatever treasures the girls are trying to hide. But I don't mind: Anytime they want to help me cook — or demand a taste test if dinner's taking too long — they immediately drag their step stools to wherever I'm working. These stools are absolutely my favorite thing in the kitchen because it means my growing girls can be my helpers and companions and learn their way around the kitchen, too.