About ten years ago, as a young student at BYU, I clearly remember sitting in one of my favorite classes, Basic Food Prep 110. My instructor was showing us how to make the perfect pie crust, one that hasn’t been over-stirred, the marbling of the lard is just perfect, and has been shaped into two discs and placed into the refrigerator to rest. I was so intrigued by the cooking and meal planning skills I was learning, (because I wasn’t much of a cook before then). I still remember the unexpected life lessons I learned, too. One lesson in particular has always stuck with me.
My instructor’s three year old grand daughter had tagged along for the Pie Unit. I can still remember her curly headed profile, sitting on the counter and looking up to her grandmother, wanting to help with everything. It was evident that those little fingers were no strangers in a kitchen. The words still echo in my ears… “She’s only three years old,” my instructor told the class, “but she can make a fantastic pie crust nearly all by herself.”
Fast forward a few years to the present. I now have three children. I remember that little girl and her abilities, and I ask myself, “Could my 5 year old make a pie crust? Has she even been given the opportunity? Are my children capable of more than I am teaching them? Have I instilled in them a love for creating? Are we having fun teaching moments in our home while learning to work and serve? Am I passing the skills that I have learned to my own children? How well do I manage my time to do the things I love, and to incorporate my children?”
The answer isn’t easy, but I am continually learning what works best for our family. I try to include our kids into nearly everything I do. From laundry to sewing, from grocery shopping to painting, from cooking and even to blogging, I try each day to find an opportunity in my tasks that will apply to them in a meaningful and educational way. I know that children learn by example, but I don’t want their observations to stop there. I want them to feel, do, and experience certain things along side me.
There are many hobbies, goals and interests that’s I’d like to try in my lifetime. While I feel my number one job is to be a good mom and wife, I also crave a challenge every now and then; one that requires me to pull out the sewing machine or dust off my canning supplies. But I don’t want my children to merely remember mom crouching behind a sewing machine for hours, researching things on the computer, or standing at the kitchen stove, having no clue what I am actually doing. I want them to experience first hand the things that I am doing, and I love it when we can do these things together.
Sometimes it feels like we live in a world where “me time” is the most important time of the day. Of course every mom needs and deserves some time to herself. I completely enjoy attending my monthly craft night, and a trip to the gym, but I honestly think that if “me time” was defined by the things that I love to do without my children, then life could all of a sudden be all about me, and I’d be missing magical teaching moments with my kids. Spending quality time with my children while simultaneously cleaning, cooking or crafting definitely has its challenges and requires patience, but in the end is much more fulfilling to us all. It brings more definition to the world “Multi-tasking” than I could have ever imagined before becoming a mom.
Elder Bednar gave a talk in General Conference last year that taught parents to spontaneously teach the gospel to their children, even in unstructured settings. The message he shared can also be applied to teaching children how to work, and passing along practical and fun skills. Sometimes the best memories made in our home are the result of my willingness to be spontaneous by letting the kids participate in activities that would be easier for me to do without their “help.”
I am so excited to be writing a series on Latter Day Woman, on how my children and I spend quality time at home creating together. Join me every Monday as I take a deeper look into the things I invite my children to experience at home, ways I get them to help, and a few practical ideas. Keep in mind, I am an ordinary mom, and we do ordinary things. I feel very lucky to stay at home with my children. I constantly look to my friends and family members, including my mother, for ideas and support. While my ideas may not be new or practical for everyone, and may not always be the norm at our house, it is what we practice and strive for. I have high hopes for my children, and I believe they are capable of many wonderful things, especially if I lead and guide them, and provide them with the appropriate experiences.