A friend of mine (mother to one child) was in my kitchen yesterday. Three of my 4 boys were running in circles (not kidding), causing the usual hubbub. She mentioned that she didn’t know how I “do it all.” I laughed and said I didn’t know either.
But then I got to thinking. Life is pretty crazy for me a lot of the time, and I won’t pretend I’ve got it all figured out. Mostly it’s God’s grace that gets me through each day. But there’s a lot my husband and I have done with our kids to
keep our sanity make things run a little more smoothly. Affiliate links are present.
Since our homeschool days, we’ve looked for opportunities to teach our kids life skills and have them help with the running of the household. Now that they’re getting older, that work is really paying off.
Here are 4 life skills for kids that make a real difference in our home right now.
1. Kids need to know how to do laundry
My kids have been involved in doing laundry from a very early age. Laundry in a family of 6 piles up fast! Even though we can now do half as many loads thanks to the new washer that I got such a great deal on, everything still needs to be folded and put away. My 2 oldest sons are completely responsible for their own laundry and it saves me hours each week! The younger 2 kids are still in training.
Takeaway: have your little kids help you with the laundry and transition them do doing their own laundry when they’re about 9 or 10.
Resource: My simple laundry system
2. Kids need to know how to cook
Besides laundry, these kids get hungry every. single. day. Funny how that works. And since we aim for a healthy diet, that means lots of cooking and food prep. So the more help I can get in the kitchen, the better.
My kids started out doing simple kitchen jobs like setting the table, washing produce, and baking with me. Now the older ones are quite capable of cooking some favorite dishes.
Takeaway: invite your kids into the kitchen to cook and don’t worry about the mess. Cooking together is a time you can do something fun AND useful with your kids.
Resource: Kids Cook Real Foods e-Course
We’ve been going through the Kids Cook Real Foods course by Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship. This course has really energized our time in the kitchen! Katie is such a fun mom and an amazing teacher.
My 8 year old was mesmerized by the lesson on sharp knife skills. You should have seen the mountain of veggies that he chopped that day! Even the 4 year old got into the act slicing up banana after banana with a butter knife.
I bought the Kids Cook Real Food course last fall on pre-order and I’m so glad I did! If you do choose to buy the course, I will get a commission although the price doesn’t go up for you. I’d really appreciate you using my link to do so since it helps pay for the costs associated with running this site. Thank you!
Do you want to teach your kids to cook but don’t know where to start? Looking to put a little work in NOW for time to relax later? Then don’t miss out on the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!
- over 30 basic cooking skills
- 3 levels: beginners (age 2-5), intermediate (6+ with beginner proficiency), advanced (8+ with intermediate mastery)
- recipe eBooks written especially for children to follow
3. Kids need to know how to do chores
Besides cooking, cleaning house has to be the biggest chore in terms of time and effort needed. My kids are not born neatniks, but they do know how to follow a checklist and tidy up.
Takeaway: Even though it’s easier to do yourself, you’ll gain a whole host of benefits if you let your kids do some of the cleaning. This is an important one to start early while it’s still somewhat “fun” so you don’t run into a lot of whining later.
4. Kids need to know how to accept personal responsibility
This one is a little less concrete, but just as critical for kids to learn. Kids need to know that the actions they take matter. If we parents always swoop in to do things for them and fix their mistakes, they’ll never learn to do things for themselves.
This can be as simple as not telling the kids when it’s time to do their laundry (they need to notice when the basket is full or they’re almost out of things to wear) to not giving multiple reminders to do homework (he’ll have to tell the teacher why he doesn’t have it).
This doesn’t mean we don’t help our kids or teach them how to plan ahead.
We still coach them through new situations. But it does mean that we expect them to keep their own commitments and responsibilities. And when they don’t, we often sympathize with them (without rescuing them from the consequences).
The best part about this approach is you don’t have to nag and badger your kids to do things. Instead, you let the natural consequences kick in.
I’m not a perfect mom and I don’t have it all figured out.
But I can say that my kids are on their way to being independent, self-sufficient adults. Best part – I don’t have to do it all.