One thing I have noticed about the job I now have, that of a wife, mother and large family homemaker is that this job requires an enormous amount of multi-tasking, problem solving and ingenuity. I actually did not realize that being a mother of many children would take so much work. My mom made it look easy. It is a massive job not only in the physical sense of the drain of it takes from your own body, but the mental work of handling all the household logistics on a daily basis with two handfuls of children running around. It is huge. Because of this, I have been teaching my daughters a few things in preparation for when they become wives and mothers.
1. Multi-tasking — I remember being a newly wed and standing at my stove watching my supper cook. I had several burners going at one time and the thought actually crossed my mind, “ARRRRRGGGHHH, that is way too much activity going on at once…I can’t handle that.” Yeah…that “too much activity” was having a small sauce pan of green beans boiling, a small sauce pan of water boiling and a small casserole in the oven. Way too much activity to handle at once!
Now I regularly juggle all 4 burners and two stoves going at once with two different timers, a baby on one hip, a whining 2 year old on my leg, while settling an argument with a 4 year old and a 6 year old and answering another “how-in-the-world-do-you-come-up-with-that” kind of question from my 11 year old. Never mind the other hundred other thoughts zooming through my head like laundry, planning tomorrow’s meals, going over a mental pantry list and other household needs.
Training our girls to multi-task is a vital tool they will use everyday as a mother. Not just for the benefit of handling more than one thing at a time, but to train her to recognize when the craziness starts and how to delegate and calm the rising tidal wave. The goal is not just to handle a bunch of things at one time, but rather to manage the things. The best way I have found to teach my daughter these practical skills is having her be my right-hand assistant. Most of the multi-tasking skills comes with just everyday experience.
Often I give her several things to do at one time. For example: She may watch her 2 year old sister and fold clothes at the same time. She may also set the table for supper while also watching a pot of beans cooking on the stove making sure it does not boil over.
Age appropriate multi-tasking practices are highly beneficial to young girls and they love the challenge.
2.) Teach them to embrace hard work — Around here, the girls and I work outside a lot. We pull weeds and dig in the dirt to plant seedling plants or flowers. We cook large amounts of food and wash enormous mounds of laundry. We scrub bathtubs and floors and 15 passenger vans. The work seems endless and overwhelming, however, teaching our daughters to embrace work will protect them against idle high maintenance lives. Girls are wonderful house cleaning and baby/toddler assistants. They can be taught to dust and vacuum. They can be trained to be detailed cleaners at a very young age. Our girls start performing beneficial jobs like, dusting, cleaning windows and mirrors, straightening, folding laundry, doing the dishes and laundry, cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms at the ages of 6 to 8 years old. These years are crucial training years. They may not be able to clean a bathroom like I can, but they can be trained on how to clean a bathroom. After I have taught my daughter how to clean the bathroom, I will then let her have opportunities to clean all by herself. I will inspect afterwards and give glowing reviews on what a great job she did — even if there are smears on the mirror and I wasn’t fond of her redecorating touches. She will grow and mature and so will her cleaning skills and decorating tastes. The point is training her, giving her the opportunities to practice what you have taught her and then giving her responsibilities to help you around the house. Let go of perfection and let her help you work instead of you doing it all.
3.) Responsibility — There are a variety of ways that a parent can encourage responsibility in their child. We hold our children responsible for a variety of different tasks…some little and some large. You can start with something small and work up to bigger responsibilities as the child grows and matures. For a 6 year old little girl, you could give her the responsibility of making a snack for her siblings. You may start out with having her peel bananas and place on a paper towels on the table. You can work up to her making peanut butter sandwiches or crackers for her brothers and sisters. At 8 years old, she should be well versed in the kitchen preparing a variety of foods. I love smelling something wonderful baking in the kitchen and it isn’t me who is doing the baking. It is a wonderful feeling. I look forward to the years ahead when my young daughters are excelling at cooking and baking. That is something I am very thankful to my mother for. She didn’t shy away from letting me bake and use her mixer at an early age. I loved that.
4.) Knowledgeable — I once heard a mother of many children say that by the age of 7, the child should know how to run the household. While my 7 year olds aren’t running the house, I have tried to teach them basic how to’s and what ifs on running the house. For my daughter, that means teaching her how to run every kitchen appliance in the house and other home making important how to’s. Though she may not be able to use them, she knows how to turn it on and off and the basics of what it does. I have also found that we need to be constantly talking to them about what we are doing…whether that be when we are cooking or cleaning or taking care of a little one, explaining what I am doing and why I am doing it is very beneficial for her training. Another important aspect is giving young girls opportunity to problem solve and find ingenious solutions and how to resolve failures (like baking failures in our house can always be given to the pig).
I should work on a practical chore list giving some advice on age appropriate chores since many mothers wonder what they should expect from their children. Quickly, I will give you a list of some chores the girls do.
8 years –
- some baking, cooking and food prep.
- very helpful cleaner
- cares for kittens
- my assistant with the babies
- changes bed linens and makes beds
- dusts and vacuums
- writes grocery lists for me and helps grocery shop
- gardening chores
(She is not responsible for all these chores all the time…but she does work doing these things in our home on a consistent basis. At this point we are still in a training stage for many things. We have many friends that have proficient 12 and up year old daughters who are very beneficial, productive, young women and great assistants to their mothers.)
2 years –
- puts shoes in basket
- puts baby dolls in the baby bed
- laundry helper
- picks up doll house
- lots of training at this point and very little help
2 year olds can pick up things with your supervision. They are not responsible beings. More time is poured into them at this point with very little productive return. Hang in there, it will soon pay off.