Two Discoveries About How I Enjoy My Family


My theme for the year is to enjoy my family. That’s surprisingly vague and difficult because I can’t put off all my work and do nothing but enjoy my kids.

Meals have to be cooked and toilets have to be cleaned.

I recently saw an advertisement for an online cooking course for kids. The lady encouraged parents to let their 5-year-olds use knives and flip pancakes, claiming that we often underestimate what our kids can do.

I’d tried letting my first join me in the kitchen, but he was so strong-willed it drove me crazy and ever after I’ve dreaded letting the kids join me.

I almost bought the cooking course, but then I pictured mothers throughout time and place laughing at me that I would need a course to teach my kids to cook!

Kids can learn whatever their parents expect them to learn. Why had I forgotten this?

With renewed energy I brought the kids into the kitchen for making pancakes. I was shocked how much their ability to obey had grown. Even my two-year-old did much better than his older brother had done at that age.

Since then I realized I needed to shift my mindset from getting my work done as efficiently as possible while the kids were busy to training them to help in as much of my work as possible.

Again, I knew this before. The kids had always helped with laundry, why had I forgotten to keep training them? The new baby? The move?

In any case, I discovered an important lesson.

Discovery #1

I enjoy my kids when we do valuable work together.

This simultaneously solves problems of not enough time for housework and not enough time to enjoy me kids.

I know for many of you this is obvious, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the obvious because we forget.

Where you burned once trying to share something with your kids? Washing dishes? Cooking? Writing? Try again now that some time has passed and see what happens!

The second discovery this week occurred during a spontaneous tea party. The baby was sleeping, so I could focus my attention on my 5, 4, and 2-year-olds.

I took out the cookies first to get them excited. I explained that we use good manners during a tea party. We’d never really talked about manners before – I mostly just try to survive meals!

I was astonished how well they responded to my calm but firm directions. They waited patiently with their hands folded in their laps. They carried breakable cups and bowls with two hands.

Even the two-year-old asked politely for more tea and asked to be excused when he was done. We all really got into it!

It would be too exhausting to insist on impeccable manners every meal, but practicing once a week during a tea party sounds doable – and fun!

Discovery #2

Work before play doesn’t always apply. When I take time to enjoy something beautiful with my kids, important lessons can be learned easily and painlessly.

This week I (re)learned that my kids can cook and they can behave at a tea party, and that both activities can be enjoyable and not stressful!

In what other ares do we tend to underestimate kids? Please share your success stories in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Two Discoveries About How I Enjoy My Family”

  1. Tea party manners- this is genius!!! Oh my goodness! Like you, manners are not my number one (or even top ten…) priority. Obviously my kids don’t behave like monkeys at the table, but we have not evolved much beyond “poke the food with the sharp end of the fork”. I LOVE the idea of choosing a (fun, non-threatening) tea setting for manners once a week. And once this is ingrained, I could see, just before sitting down to a meal at a friend’s house whispering to the kids, “Use your tea party manners!” and having that be understood by everyone.

    Love it! Just out of curiosity, did you read some poetry during your tea time? 🙂

    1. I like your idea of using “tea party manners” as a code word!

      We did not read poetry, but the idea of having a “poetry tea” inspired me to try a tea party in the first place. Tomorrow we’ll try another tea and I’ll try adding some read-aloud time and see how it goes.

      It’s certainly a better way of using up sweets than me sneaking them while cleaning up the kitchen . . .

  2. It IS brilliant, as is the code word (thanks, Monica). My two weeks in a (very) third-world country opened my eyes to a lot of things, especially the second law of thermodynamics in its wider application: How everything — from vehicles to relationships — will devolve into chaos if not actively, even aggressively, maintained.

    Manners are seen by some to be pretentious, and it’s true that sometimes they have become just that. But mostly they are the lubricant that keeps civilization working — the WD40 of life.

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