You generally have to rely on bedtime and babysitters (hello, Netflix) to keep them occupied while you do the finicky stuff. It's tough, I get it...but I've got a crazy suggestion for next time. Why not invite them to join you?
Before you run away screaming, humor me for a bit of personal history.
I've been baking, oh, forever. I don't really remember learning. At some point Mom started letting me unwrap boullion cubes and sticks of butter, and I always got to lick the bowl after she'd made biscuits. If she was working in the kitchen, I was hanging about, probably getting in the way...but she always found some way for me to “help”. That's probably why I'm more comfortable in my kitchen than anywhere else in the world. If I love you, I bake for you.
If you love baking, bringing your kids into the kitchen is an activity worth doing, and it's worth doing as often as possible. If they're old enough to watch curiously as you work, they're probably old enough to join in.
So, here's an idea for passing on your own love of baking to the next generation: have a cake-making party!
Let's start with the invitation. It can be spontaneous --
“Hey, want to make a cake with me?”
or planned --
“Hey, I made you this crafty invitation for a Make Cake With Me party in two days!”
Whatever suits your style.
Next, start delegating tasks. Let them unwrap the butter, sift the flour, pour the milk, even stir a little. Alternately, you could hand them their own (empty) bowl and a spoon so they can pretend while you do the actual cake mixing.
Then comes the bake-and-cool wait. Oh, how cruel the waiting.
Then comes the fun decorating! Did you plan a cake design? Well, throw that out the window. This cake is about the process! You may need to do the frosting yourself, but young kids are great at adding colorful candies, sprinkles, or scribbling on fondant. You could even tint several colors of frosting and let them “finger paint” the whole thing.
What do you think? Are you brave enough to let little kids work in your kitchen? What sort of creative process-oriented cake designs do you think would work here?
And hey, if everyone enjoyed your little baking party, why not include the kids in your day-to-day cooking? Next thing you know, you'll have some real assistants living in your house, and you'll have passed on your crazy obsession with creative cakes! Win.