A friend once told me that some of the childhood memories she holds dearest are those of her mum sitting down by the kitchen window with a novel, the cat curled on her lap while she played with building blocks on the floor next to her.
“It felt so intimate and calming,” she told me with a smile “she didn’t think her job was to get down on her knees and play with me, so she never fretted about doing all her work done AND keeping me entertained for hours on end – our time together was more about sharing quiet moments. I try to do the same with my daughter”.
That definitely struck a chord with me. While I love to do crafts & play with my little monkeys, the truth is I mostly feel frazzled and pulled in every direction. Trying to meet the demands of family, work, 3 little whirlwinds of activity whilst building a Lego Chima with one, making play-doh pizza with another and cooking supper just doesn’t feel as serene as it should.
That got me thinking. My friend was right: my favourite memories of my mum and I together were of me helping her out doing chores in the house, going grocery shopping or visiting elderly relatives with their days-gone-by tales to tell and biscuit tins to share. She rarely played with me but the fact that she involved me in what she had to do made me feel so “grown up” and important that I always looked forward to our time together.
So, in a bid to make our family life as calm and simple as possible while trying to teach my children to play together without demanding my undivided attention all the time, I took a leaf out of my mum’s child-rearing book and put my little ones down to work doing what I loved to do when I was little: shelling peas for lunch!
The results were amazing: not only my 3 chipmunks stopped bickering within a matter of seconds, but they got stuck in immediately, helped each other out and relished the job of helping out mum.
For me that meant being able to get on with things & hear myself think for once, rather than run around like mad with a million to-do priorities & pleeeeease-now-mummy demands shooting around my brain at once. I was so proud of them for working so well as a team and for chomping on raw peas along the way: turns out that close contact to green veggies in their uncooked state can breed curiosity & even willingness to give them a try!
When all the peas were shelled, we made risotto primavera adding finely chopped onions, fresh asparagus and carrots. The best thing is there were no tantrums later: they all polished up their plates because they’d helped prepping the vegetables & cooking the risotto.
While we ate, I told them stories of when mum was little and used to do the same with Grannie, sitting on the kitchen steps with bowls of fresh peas from the garden on our laps – I hope they felt the same contentment I did then…they surely didn’t seem to crave their nintendos for once so definitely a one-nil for fresh garden veggies & simple house chores.
What did you like to help your mum with when you were little? Please leave a comment in the box below, we’d love to hear from you!