Trying to keep children entertained during long summer days? How about giving them a job?
As parents we often miss a golden opportunity to engage our children, from a young age – when they are most eager to participate – to help us in meal preparation. And summertime produce lends itself so perfectly to this task.
While shucking the corn on the cob that we enjoyed this weekend, I remembered doing this as a child with my two sisters. There were six siblings – so my m0m always fixed a lot of sweet corn – and the job of shucking fell to us.
We thought it was fun, sitting in the back screened porch, playing with the corn silk, watching out for the occasional worm living inside – and, oh yeah, husking the corn.
I think we all recognize that when parents are in the kitchen, preparing and busy, that’s when our young ones always need “something”. I think that “something” is usually because they love and want to be involved in what we’re doing – “real work”.
So – let them.
Pull up a chair to the sink. Give them carrots to wash, potatoes to scrub, fresh peas to shell (watch them eat most of them!), green beans to snap off the ends and break in half (a job of “very great importance” to a young child.
Having roasted veggies for dinner? Let your child arrange them on the pan – now this could turn into quite a creative process. How about a mindful, peaceful job like peeling off the onion skin for you? I know one little guy who thoroughly lost himself in this careful endeavor.
And, are you ready for this? Put the garlic cloves you need pressed in a plastic bag, and let your child smash them with the back of a spoon. Now there’s a job most children would not turn down.
Or did you hope to do that?
Once you get going, you’ll start to think of all manner of things a child can do to help- sorting, stirring, pouring. There’s so many positives for both you and your children – involvement, mastery, pride – and most significant – positive time spent “working” and “being” together.
You just can’t beat that.
For fresh summertime produce, check out The Cameron Park Farmer’s Market (a fun family outing besides!),The Kane Street Community Garden, where everyone can get involved, and the various other farmers’ markets in La Crosse and the surrounding communities.