The Kitchen: the Center of Everything

This week I’m posting as part of the 5 Days of Mothering & Homemaking series. My series is on cleaning and getting your children involved (or more involved). To view the other 21 contributors and their topics, go here. 036

There is a lot that happens in the kitchen. And the kitchen being the kitchen, is generally a messy room if you don't stay on top of cleaning it. Did I mention I don't like to clean? I can plan and organize and rearrange all day long. Sort, file, I got it covered. Scrubbing, wiping, clearing; I hate dealing with dirt.

I must sound so negative but I'm just being real here. I'll try to turn this attitude around as we continue to create new habits, and hopefully new memories. After all, I set the tone, right?

So, I adapted this idea from Cleaning House, by Kay Wills Wyma, where I will invite my children to help me cook dinner. I have resisted doing this because, like many other moms out there, I just want to "get it done". But we're really missing the point, aren't we? It's not about rushing through life to get on to the "next thing". It's about embracing life and making every moment count.

Our children are going to need to learn how to cook. They also need regular one-on-one time with mommy ("mom" doesn't exist in this house). What better way to combine the two then to work together in the kitchen?

Now, Kay, the author of Cleaning House, has teenagers, so her kids actually make the menus and cook by themselves (for the most part). My eldest is only 9 and is not quite ready to be in the kitchen alone yet. But she has expressed desire to help in the kitchen over and over again. Beginning next month, I'll finally oblige her; along with my other children. They will each have their own day with mommy in the kitchen.

We will also learn to clean up together, as a family. Usually after dinner, everyone disperses and I'm left in the kitchen alone. My older kids might do the dishes (which is a great help, of course!) But everything else is up to me.

Children will not truly understand the work involved in living if we always do it for them. Not to mention, there is no way I can do it all. No matter how much I want to, I need to accept my own limitations. There is no good reason children should not be regularly involved in helping around the house. It's not just about cleaning; it's about learning to be responsible and equipping them for adulthood. One day, they will be without mom and dad around. Can they truly live independently if they constantly rely on us to do everything for them?

Use this as an opportunity to have some of that one-on-one time with your child. You don't have to leave the house or go out of your way. Just mesh it in with real life. There's nothing artificial when it comes to making a meal together. It's a great time for conversation and simple training in the kitchen.

What purpose you will give to your children by allowing them to contribute in a "fun" way. Oh yes, most children love to cook and bake. It's nice to allow them some bit of fun, and not only give them the grunge work.

Do your children help in the kitchen?

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Sure to keep your hair out of your face (and your family's food!) as you work in the kitchen!