Thursday, March 12, 2015

Child Helpers in the Home

Helping Mama make waffles

Margaret: "Come on, Josey, I made room on my step stool for you."

Joseph: "Okay!"

Margaret: "Here, I will stir the wets and you can stir the drys."

Mama just loves these rare glimpses of Margaret emerging from the difficult year of being three. (The Terrible Twos are quite the misnomer in my opinion.) She turns four next week and I hope for more and more glimpses of a Big Girl.

(Our local grocery store doesn't carry Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain pancake mix, so I enjoy buying it in bulk from Amazon, as it is a better health boost than mixes like Bisquick or Jiffy, and the kids notice no difference.)

Mary has learned how to scramble eggs

I'm 22 weeks along now in pregnancy #5 and this is when I start seriously evaluating our routines at home and what areas of behavior and chores need improvement. Read: this is when the pregnancy starts to feel even more "real" and I think, 'How on earth am I going to do all that I do with a newborn in tow?!'

John has learned how to cook our pancakes

Last week, I read somewhere that La Leche League estimates that it takes forty hours per week to (exclusively) nurse a newborn. I'm a retired LLL leader and that took even me by surprise, but I calculated . . . at least 12 nursing sessions per day and night would be 47 minutes per nursing session. That might be a bit long for a newborn, but I don't think it's a great exaggeration based on my experience, especially if the baby is having nursing problems (which two of mine have had). Even if the amount of time is exaggerated by double, that would still mean 20 hours per week of nursing a baby!

"Hey Mama, why don't you go ahead and eat breakfast?
I'll stay here and finish making the rest of the waffles."
(Mama is unaccustomed to eating hot food.)

That was a cold splash in the face: when I'm already working what feels like nonstop from waking at 5:00 till sleeping at 9:00, how will I fit in forty additional hours of duties? What forty hours of chores will I cut? Even mamas of five-to-be go through a bit of panic!

One area we are tackling for the first time is teaching the six- and eight-year-olds to cook--for real cooking with ovens and stove tops. I cook pretty simply around here, I don't prepare gourmet food, so they may be able to provide some real help. The children are both very excited at this undertaking and are listing off all the foods they can already prepare. One aspect of food preparation we're really going to have to focus on is that, sure, the children can make their own single peanut butter jelly sandwich, but they don't have the diligence to make six peanut butter jelly sandwiches.

Breakfast made solely by children!

We've already had some excellent opportunities for discussion: comparing the purported happiness the child feels at learning how to cook with the then irritated refusal exhibited when the younger sibling asks for help pouring a bowl of cereal because Mama is busy exercising. It isn't just to fulfill our worldly pride that we learn how to cook, it is so that we can use those skills to perform service for the least of these, who include our little sisters. These are hard lessons at young ages!

I suppose this same lesson is to be learned by adults: We consider it worthy of honor and respect to cook for fancy entertaining, for a cooking competition show, or as a professional chef, but some of us homemakers don't consider our own duties planning, shopping for, and cooking 21 meals and 14 snacks per week for our families to be a worthy endeavor. Whose approbation are we seeking, God's or the World's? Deep thoughts . . .


  1. I get so much out of your posts...really loved this one and the last on math helpful since our kids are similar ages...thanks for writing and helping me!!!

  2. Kate: Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate it.