Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Supper Helpers

(I have been absent here as I struggle with my new laptop (and then lounge on the beach for a bit). But I have persevered with the laptop and I'm convinced I will never get Alzheimer's because of all the new computer things I forced myself to tackle. But I'm back!  Blogging from a new laptop with photos!)

There were a number of times during the school year that I lost my temper because not a single child in this house could manage to set the table without my endless prompting and cajoling and (then) yelling.  We all felt bad.

I had the idea to call a child to set the table before I started cooking dinner, but I kept getting deep into supper prep before remembering this plan.

Vietnam fried rice
Then I had another idea:  a supper helper.  This child would enter the kitchen with me when I started cooking supper.  This child would fetch and carry and do any simple job in supper prep and somewhere in the process, set the table.  The children would take turns doing this.  I wrote it on the wipe-off sheet on the fridge so everyone could check who was the supper helper.

Ben prepares the snow peas
It has been working beautifully.  Perhaps it's the individual attention or the addition of kitchen prep jobs to the setting table job, but the children have positive attitudes about being supper helpers.  And they are truly helpful.  They find things in the fridge and pantry for me, fill pots with water, wash vegetables, run out to the yard for some herb sprigs, or take the bunny his vegetable scraps.  And glory-be they set the table without a fuss.

I love that they are learning first-hand the work and pleasure of getting meals on the table. I've been far more casual about cooking lessons because they often take on a cooking task as a supper helper.

Here's Genevieve making guacamole to go on black bean bowls. Wasn't she proud to ask her daddy how he liked the quacamole tonight?


Unknown said...

Been there...this sounds like a perfect solution!
Great job tackling the new technology : )

momma-lana said...

Ugh--any new technology is so frustrating. I have yet to master the iPad and we have had it for 18 months.

After my last supper helpers left home I kept finding myself with supper all ready and the table not set. After 25 plus years of not doing it myself I just did not think to do it. I remember most of the time now but do have the occasional day when I kind of think hubby and I should just get spoons and eat out of the pots. :)

AmyK said...

I love this! My two kids are a few years younger than yours, but I have been thinking about the supper helper idea, and so it's great to read about how you're doing it. Both of mine like to "help" in the kitchen now (they are 4 and 2.5), and my 4 year old is truly helpful sometimes, but other times it's easier to send them off to play while I cook. But I've been wondering when they'll be old enough to do something more routine. I feel like it will be hard to start one w/o the other right now. So thanks for posting this!

MDiskin said...

I love this idea. Usually I let the kids have their short screen time just as I start dinner, but help (or even "help") sounds better to me. Maybe we'll do screen time after dinner so the helper doesn't feel like he/she's missing something fun.

Simple summer suppers seem made for kids to help with!

I may go with the term "Kitchen Minion" though. :D

Zoë said...

I have thought about doing this but haven't yet as I'm not sure I could keep them busy enough the entire time. And I'm also sort of disorganized about meal prep. I will often do small bits of it here and there throughout the day so that just before supper it's easy to slap things together while the kids set the table. I guess it's time I just suck it up and organize myself!

jenny_o said...

It's strange, isn't it, that sometimes giving more rather than fewer duties brings out kids' sense of responsibility and helpfulness. It sounds like you have struck just the right balance.

Oh, good for you on the laptop front. Our regular computer died and I'm using my husband's laptop, and it's so very annoying! However, the drive to comment has overridden my frustration, as you can see :)

BLD in MT said...

Brilliant! That seems like a really good solution!

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

what a great idea.I just know the kids are enjoying ,the cooking and tips you are giving them, and by doing one child a day, it gives them the specialness of beign with mom and learning, thus makes them more eager to do the job.and no fussing with two kids under foot,ha..
I miss my two kitchen helpers.
I feel your pain with the lap top.. so frustrating. I got one for Christmas.. It has been awful, learning to use it..ha

Sharon Nolt said...

Your idea is brilliant. I always wonder how to use some of your methods with my younger crew. Good job mothering and teaching!!