There is a magical room in your home. In this room people learn, grow, speak, listen, think, make choices, accomplish, laugh, cry, prepare, clean, play... and, oh yes, eat. It is your kitchen and it is a space where people and relationships can blossom and thrive. How many of you are enjoying the magic that occurs here?
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A hundred years ago people were either farmers or lived in cities. Children contributed to the day-to-day functioning of the family. At the end of the day, the kitchen was the focal point of the family - sharing the day's events, what went on in the community and larger world, as well as concerns for the welfare of the family.
Times have changed. Two parents may work outside the home. There are many single- parent families, and extended family often lives far away. Some children are so over-scheduled it seems as if they need a social secretary to keep track of their activities. In the busy-ness of life, we are spending less time together as a family, and, some would say, not a lot of it is 'quality time.'
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Your kitchen can be the starting point for creating stronger ties with your children. In my kitchen, my daughter and I used to chop ingredients, unload the dishwasher, talk about the day, eat mac and cheese together, and slip bits of food to our dog. My son, who loves to cook, tells me what seasonings to add, scrubs pots, sings with me, and sometimes dances me around the floor and into the living room. What can all of you do in this truly multi-purpose room?
⇒ Give your kids choices about what to eat and enlist their help in preparing it. While they're at it they'll be following directions, learning about ingredients, measurements and cooking techniques.
⇒ This is a time to pass along family recipes and traditions, and create new traditions.
⇒ They can set the table, prepare the room, and help with clean-up.
⇒ Kids can learn about healthy food choices.
⇒ Busy hands open the way for quiet conversations, jokes and singing.
⇒ Children begin to understand that they are useful and have a purpose in their family. This contributes to positive self-esteem. (Too many children feel their only purpose is to go to school and be taken to their various activities. This is a subject that comes up often in my work with parents.)
⇒ No matter what you do, or don't do, while in the kitchen, there is peace and comfort in spending time in the same space.
Make time to spend time with your children. This may take some planning, and you will find that it is well worth the effort. Create magic and memories for the holidays, and every day.
Be well, be strong, be courageous parents.