Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Bringing Kids Along": Why (and How) We Spend Extra Time Doing Routine Tasks with Our Kids

Years ago, Ben and I decided that we would invest the extra time with our children now to teach them valuable life skills (such as baking, cooking, sewing, cleaning, laundry, gardening, budgeting, woodworking, etc.) so that SOMEDAY they would be fully capable little people who can help out around the house.  Furthermore, when they someday move out on their own, they will have a solid understanding for running a household effectively.  

I totally admit that this can be so challenging sometimes...small children can completely slooooowwww things down.  A ten minute task can quickly escalate into a half an hour venture.  It's frustrating, and honestly, there are times where I just can't do it due to stress levels or time constraints.  BUT, we decided that it was something so important to us that we would keep with it whenever possible.  We chose to make a conscious decision to "bring our kids along" as we do things around the house. 

We're already seeing huge progress from the kids.  My kids are now 3 (Levi), 5 (Aaron), 7 (Zoe), and 9 (Ellie).  I can give Ellie and Zoe a dessert recipe and they can usually complete it from start to finish on their own.  My big three kids all make their own breakfasts in the morning.  The girls take turns making lunches. My big three can all safely and properly use power drills.  The girls can work a sewing machine.  Zoe makes all of our household laundry soap.  All four kids can unload, load, and start the dishwasher.  Aaron is a seriously amazing gardener (no, really, he rocks at it).  And of course, all four kids know how to sweep, vacuum, wash windows/mirrors, and wipe down tables/counters.  

It's fun to see now how our time investment of bringing kids along with us as we do routine household chores has made our kids great, responsible, helpers at such a young age.  I love to see the excitement in their eyes when the whole family enjoys a dessert that they made on their own, or when they realize that their helpfulness means mom can sit down and do a puzzle with them instead of clean.  

As a practical example of how we "bring them along", I took lots of pics of Aaron tonight as he worked in the kitchen.  The girls have spent many hours in the kitchen with me, but now that they are fairly capable, and Aaron is a bit older, I've been pulling him in as my helper a lot more lately so he can learn his way around a kitchen, too.  

Tonight is one of our rare "home all night" nights.  Here's how I bring kids along to teach them home ec skills...

Aaron made biscuits for our freezer tonight.  We make them ahead, freeze them, and then defrost/throw them in the oven when we want them for breakfast. SO good!  Tonight, Aaron helped me gather ingredients, and then worked on his measuring skills as he mixed everything together.

Mixing his biscuits.

Cutting out the biscuits!

Okay, we do make "actual" food in our house, too.  Learning to safely use a knife is SO important.  Tonight he was cutting our veggies to prepare them to be steamed.

The rest of the dinner was mom-stuff, but he got everything all set up and going and helped me with the dishes, too.  And the whole time, we just talked and had fun together. Win-win!

It really doesn't take too much more effort to include a child.  I won't lie-sometimes I still love to try to sneak away to the kitchen to bake something on my own, simply because I love to bake.  But really, even if you don't homeschool, you can bring your kiddos along in SO MANY WAYS to help them learn all those practical life skills that they need.  Whenever we have anything around the house-we try to include them.  This goes for animal chores, backyard clean up, laundry, laying new laminate flooring, woodworking projects, and more.  Anything that YOU do, they can do, too....sometimes you just need to modify it a bit for them to be able to help.

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