Positive Parenting Tips

There is no FREE lunch – I told my 4-year old!

child helping in the kitchen, ways to make your child responsible

Child helping in the kitchen

I was working in the kitchen, cutting the vegetables or putting the utensils away, I do not remember. There are always a hundred and ten tasks to do in the kitchen. And then, shouts my little daughter, “Mama, I am hungry. Give me an apple.” It wasn’t so much the thing she asked me to do, but the way she asked me to do. It was an ORDER. And I DID NOT like it one bit.

I left, whatever that I was doing in the kitchen, there and then and went outside where she was lying down on the sofa, nice and carefree, and watching one of her favourite videos on the iPad. I told her, very calmly, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

She looked at me blankly. As if her overworked mama had taken leave of her senses.

I clarified. “Mama is extremely busy, as you can see. If you want an apple, you need to help mama. The sooner mama’s work gets over, the sooner you will get your apple.”

Point noted. She switched off the iPad and rushed to the kitchen. She helped me with the kitchen chores as much as her age and inexperienced hands possibly allowed.

The conclusion – she was munching into an apple some 10 minutes later.

In retrospect, I didn’t appreciate the way I told my daughter to help me with the work. But, a mother has a lot of responsibilities towards her kids. Apart from bathing, clothing, feeding, a large part of the child’s learning comes from her mother. I want my daughter to learn not only the things that came out of the school books, but somethings far more important.

The sense of responsibility and to learn to be independent.

  • A child should learn that the chores in the house are not only for her mother or her father, but it’s a joint responsibility. Hence, everyone should chip in.
  • A child should also learn to survive without her mother and father or the battery of house helps fulfilling their tiniest wish.

These 2 things were taught to me by my mother when I was quite small. Though I do not particularly remember the exact circumstances in which they were delivered me, I do remember certain ways in which they were done.

My mother, an efficient housemaker, had very simple dreams for me and my younger sister – to be efficient housemakers like her when our turn came.

We complained, “But we will work in the office, and hire people to run the house for us.”

She replied (mothers are always ready with replies, and some good ones too), “No people will run house for you, if you are inefficient. If you do not know how to cook, wash or shop, even the best of staff will cheat you.”

Well, 25 years later, that piece of advice still haunts me. I am a full time housemaker and a part time worker. I have a couple of daily helps. However, it is still me who runs the show. They cook, they clean and they wash; but I still supervise. When I see shoddy work, I tell them, because I know how it is done. I show them the right way. BECAUSE my mother taught me how.

I might not have been gracious in accepting her advice back then, but, I am more than grateful to her for imparting her pearls of wisdom which are standing in good stead now.

So coming back to the present. Every mother has her own methods to teach values to her kids. My mother had hers. And fortunately (or unfortunately for my daughter), I have mine.

So yes, she is going to learn how to pull her weight. She is not a baby anymore, she is growing into an intelligent young woman with each morning of bright sunshine. It’s a good time to teach her that a household runs efficiently due to the efforts of all its members. Every family member has a responsibility, and so has she. The world also works in the same fashion.

You give some, you take some.

Secondly, she must learn to be independent; to recognize her needs and fulfil them on her own. Yes, there are times when I miss doing things for her, but instead of giving into unnecessary maternal guilts, I stay firm. It’s less confusing for her.

Some mothers might argue, it’s not a happy childhood. I say IT IS. The childhood doesn’t only become happy when you enjoy playful moments with your child. The childhood doesn’t become unhappy because a child is required to do certain tasks or be independent.

The childhood becomes happy when a child knows these things are good for her. This is empowering the childhood now, and the adulthood, later on.

A khuljaaye bachpan is as much about playing, having fun, exploring things and getting new experiences, as it is about learning values and growing up with them to be good people.

What do you think, mommies?

You can read more articles written by me on http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/admin

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  1. Hey , This is Srividhya, one of the team members of IMC (Indianmomsconnect.com). we really liked your post – http://firsttimemommy.net/2016/01/21/there-is-no-free-lunch-i-told-my-4-year-old/. We would like to feature that article as Feb pick of the month in our site. If you can send me your email address will send in the details ASAP. Thanks

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