Mum’s the word: Age appropriate chores are stepping stones to life lessons

Mum’s the word: Age appropriate chores are stepping stones to life lessons

Cooking though really is the essential skill I truly believe we have to teach our children.

My mother did everything for my sister and I when we were growing up.

She cooked, cleaned and organised everything. She was a stay-at-home mom and of a generation whereby most women felt it was their role.

My father was very hands on too. Both were cleaners. And both really organised. However in reality it left my sister and I lacking in basic life skills in order to care for ourselves.

I have a clear memory of a time when I was 11 and we had family over. I went up to my mom and said I was hungry and a cousin of mine turned to me and said:

“Well make something for yourself.”

I was taken a back and a bit embarrassed by it. She then took my hand and brought me over to our stove, got out bread, cheese, butter and a frying pan and taught me how to make a grilled cheese. Which I loved, and probably made a million more since.

I have another memory of my mom going to a friend’s house when my sister and I were 15 and she left us pizza money.

Neither of us had ever ordered a pizza on our own and we were teenagers. When my mother passed away when I was 19 I had never done my own laundry.

To say my sister and I had a land is an understatement.

We went for relying on our mother for pretty much everything, to having to fend entirely for ourselves.

We had both just started university and we had to clear out our family home and decide what was going to happen to all of the possessions we had ever known. Plus we had to learn to cook, clean and organise ourselves.

I know our situation was drastic but after having my own daughter I have come to the realisation that by not teaching children life skills as they grow up, we are doing them a disservice rather than helping them.

I know my mother didn’t look at it this way and she was just a very caring and nurturing person and really thought of it as her role in life.

She looked after us incredibly well and helped us mature and grow into empathetic women ourselves. But women who knew squat about making a decent meal or what setting to put our clothes on in the washing machine.

Mum’s the word: Age appropriate chores are stepping stones to life lessons

So my husband and I are really encouraging Joan to be independent and to learn to do things for herself.

A few years ago we started first with teaching her how to look after her things and keep her room clean. Second we have given her age appropriate chores. We started with helping us strip the bed.

She now loves to vacuum and do the dishes. I get her to help me fold laundry and to put her own clothes away too.

Cooking though really is the essential skill I truly believe we have to teach our children.

Not only because it helps guide them with healthy eating choices but I feel it helps them have a say in what they eat and they are therefore more likely to eat it.

I have two cousins I adore and they are both in the first few years of university now.

Their father taught them how to cook all sorts of delicious and healthy basics from a very young age which ultimately led to that being one less thing he had to worry about when they flew the nest. I always admired him for that and have taken a leaf from his book in this respect.

Joan has expanded her repertoire in the past year, she makes a mean PB and J [sandwich] and is really good at scrambled eggs now. I want her to grow up a healthy, confident and independent woman and it really starts by encouraging independence at a young age.

Don’t worry if they don’t get it right the first 100 times, don’t for perfection, learn to let go just a little bit too as a parent.

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