A while ago I read this article that was featured in Simple Mom’s weekend links. I was really inspired by the article. When Little E was a baby, I used to let him do everything with me. Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, you name it, he was “helping” – and loving it. I have a million excuses why I haven’t been letting my kids help in the past year or so – two is harder than one, life got crazy, we moved three times, etc – but none of them are very good reasons for stunting my children’s growth and development.
The article from the Kitchen Stewardship blog was kind of like a slap in the face for me and the motivator I needed to start letting my kids experience the real world through play. Remember when we were kids and work was play? I’d like to capitalize on that right now, while my kids are still young. I feel like I may have soured the opportunity though – it takes more than I thought it would to get Little E (who is only 3 1/2) to empty the dishwasher. And Baby E just likes to take stuff out and throw it on the floor. When Little E was a baby, he would actually help – most of the time. Baby E’s desire to throw stuff around a destroy things I explain with the fact that I haven’t let her so much as touch anything in the kitchen since she was practically born (the moving around had a little to do with that).
As you can see from our pictures, we’ve been trying to remedy that mistake. The kids enjoy helping out a lot more (we’ve got a long way to go!) and I am feeling like their ability to “play” doing “real world” things is making a difference. Little E already knows how to cut vegetables and hold a knife and the veggie so that he doesn’t cut himself. Sure, the chunks come out a little uneven, and the cuts are more often crooked than straight – but Little E is learning how to cook (and not just Mac & Cheese!) when he is 3. By the time he’s 30, he’ll be a gourmet chef, right?
Well, making gourmet chefs is not our goal as parents – but raising children who aren’t afraid to try “real world” things is. We want to expose them to all the wonderful things life has to offer, and not just “shield” them by letting them play with “fake” or “pretend” things – we want them to get down and dirty and figure things out.