Today we are going to be talking about getting your boys in the kitchen, but not just the kitchen, but of all the household chores (btw, if you know Veggie Tales, you will recognize where that title came from). I am a firm believer is making sure boys get taught all about household work. Sometimes, we parents are archaic in our thinking. Girls learn to do things in the house, and boys learn to do things outside the house. While some of this should be true, not all of it need be. When my kids were young and we knew we wanted a big family, I decided then and there my boys and my girls were going to learn things to help out. I saw the stress other mom friends who were trying to do it all and knew that was not for me. Do they have to do them till the day they die? Nope, but I wanted them to be able to bless others and their future spouses by being able to do many things. I made sure my oldest girls could run a complete household by the time they are 13. This includes simple meal preparation, house cleaning, and laundry. This came in so handy when my youngest 3 had to all be born by C-section due to breech presentations. I could stay at the hospital and rest knowing my house was well taken care of it between my loving husband and oldest daughters. When my boys were small, I began the same routine with them. With a larger family and much more responsibility, I haven't met the 13 year old guide as quick with them. But we are very close. It does help, my children are older now and there are more ways to spread the work load. Plus, my husband has things he wants the boys to learn as well, so it just takes more time. But, the goal is still there. I want my boys to be able to bless their future wives by being able to help out when she is sick or worn or just had a baby as well as provide. That is my vision for my boys.
Start them while they are very young. Teach them how to be happy while doing their work. If you approach a job with a grumpy spirit, so will they. Have some child size equipment on hand so they can help. Little brooms and dust pans, kid sized work gloves and aprons, little buckets, sponges, dusting cloths, stools or stepladders for reaching, spray bottles they can hold themselves filled with non-toxic cleaners go a long way to getting the job done. Put on some music. We find when we are grooving, the job is so much more fun. Expect mistakes. Get messy (a little Ms. Frizzle here). They will learn as they grow. But teach nonethless. A child can do more than pick up toys and keep their room tidy. Way more! As they get older, add to it slowly but surely till they can do most everything around the house from kitchen work to laundry to vacuuming and mopping. My youngest boy is 7 and he does his entire laundry routine from start to finish, folding included (though he still is in training on the folding part). As they get older, set expectations high. They can handle it and is a great jumpstart for real life. We, as adults, cannot go through life halfway. Don't allow it from your older kids either. If you are looking for some ways to get started, here are a couple of links for age appropriate chores. They are a great to give you ideas to get your children moving. You can always tweak it to fit your family.
Focus on the Family - no printable but a good read
The Mob Society - focuses just on boys
The Flanders Family - this does have a free printable that is very good and a super springboard
The kitchen is no exception. Start small. We don't currently have a dishwasher, but a child at a young age, can empty the dishwasher. When mine were small, I used mostly plastic so I didn't have to worry about breakage. Its a season. I had nicer stuff I would pull out for dinner and nicer occasions, but a plastic season is handy when your kids are tiny and need to learn to help. If you don't have a dishwasher, start them out with handwashing by doing simple things like cereal bowls, sandwich plates, or plastic cups. Teach them how to properly wash and get things clean. You can gradually grow your routine as they get older. My big boys can handle a decent quantity of dishes now (which is good since they help contribute to the large load).
Expect them to help set and clear the table, put away food and condiments, refill water jugs (if you have them). Teach them to sweep and mop. My opinion is you helped make the mess, you can help clean it up. Again, I want them to be a blessing to others some day. They can easily learn these things. They are not just a girl job. Our current system is to have the boys do all the kitchen work one day and the girls the next. It has been a great system and gets all involved.
I rise up and praise my husband for teaching the kids at a young age on Sundays how to meal prep. He would start with them just making toast. Then, he expanded to add more. I followed his lead. I taught them foods that they enjoy the most. If they love to eat it, they will love to fix it. Here is a little list of starter foods that a boy (or girl) can learn to fix:
Cooking scrambled eggs
Simple soups, like tomato or chicken noodle, even if its just a can or ramen
Sandwiches (yes, these are good to learn so they can do it just right)
Chopping carrotts, cucumbers, or apples
Warming frozen veggies
Chicken nuggets and french fries
Macs and cheese
Notice these are all very kid friendly and super simple to do. And, if they learn all these, they can literally feed a family for an entire day if need be even while they are young. I don't know if any of my boys will be one to love to cook, but if they do, I won't be the one to stand in their way. My oldest son has taken a fascination for the grill, so the last two summers he has been learning the ways of the grill and is doing well. I will continue to teach more as he goes along inside the house and will do the same for his brothers.
There is a time and place for everything and sometimes paper plates are a wonderful thing. Don't be afraid to use them. And, if they allow your boys a few more minutes of training in meal prep, then by all means use them.
I hope this post was a help and blessing to you. I am asked how do I get all that I do done, and my main reason for that is I have a good team surrounding me. Yes, it was a ton of work when they were small, and I never thought I would do half of what I do now back then, but when you start reaping the rewards of all your hard work, you realize it was worth every single exhausting minute. And, I hope that one day, my boys (and girls) spouses will be able to reap the benefits of their early training.
Here are couple of other goodies from around the 'net.
Chore Charts - if you love Pinterest, here is an entire board full of various chore charts
Blessed Beyond a Doubt (I love these and she always has fun printable "money" with it)
Do your kids adore Lego? How about some Lego reward money?
Proverbial Homemaker - great bunch of kitchen printables to set up a notebook, with both boy and girl themes (these are not free but so worth it)
Have a blessed weekend.