Mother’s Day is almost here and we have a suggestion for those who are tired of the magazine spreads and social media stories showing perfect Mother’s Day celebrations and impossibly hand-made kids gifts (which only make you feel bad because yours came up so short). Let the Mother’s Day ‘Zasters commence! Of all the Mother’s Days I’ve celebrated over the years, it was those loving “disasters,” concocted entirely by my children when they were very young that mean the most. While the store-bought cards got recycled years ago, I’m still hanging on to those handmade gifts and cards. You know the ones—the cracked, lopsided pottery and the cards adorned with atrocious spelling, grammar, poetry and unflattering Crayon portraits.
But especially when it comes to Mother’s Day Brunch, it’s the memories of the do-it-yourself, inedible meals that I cherish. My daughters treated me to breakfast one holiday by brewing up “sludge” coffee with floating bits of beans, along with dyed toast. They cut and toasted cookie-cutter shapes from bread, before saturated them with food coloring. So excited with their creations, they led me blindfolded to the table set with a haphazard collection of place mats and napkins. I can’t recall whether I did the clean up or not, but even if I did—it was well worth seeing their enthusiasm.
Key benefits of giving your kids free range in the kitchen
So, here’s the thing, while you might enjoy the special treatment on Mother’s Day and any holiday—it’s also good for them! Here’s three key benefits of letting them treat you.
– A love of cooking: Even if they’re preschoolers they can, with the help of an adult, assemble a simple decorated piece of bread, cut fruit or veggies with a plastic knife, even operate a coffee maker and much more. Young children are curious and want to help, so let them. Teaching kids to cook for themselves is one of the secrets to raising healthy eaters, as they are less likely to turn into post collegiate adults who survive by dining on cereal, frozen food and takeout; and they’re more likely to be those individuals impressing their friends because they know how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch.
– Chores: Parents who ban their children from kitchen prep at a young age wonder why they have a hard time recruiting them back as teenagers to help prepare simple meals, load the dishwasher, empty the garbage and other simple chores. Again, if you catch them while they’re young, when they think all these chores are still fun, the work becomes ingrained and it’s not such a battle to get them to do it for you later on.
– Teach respect: If you want your kids to remember Mother’s Day, or any holiday—Father’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries—you have to teach them to do it! It sounds so obvious, but some parents think it’s enough to let the grade schools assist with hand-made gifts. But all that stops in middle school, and if you do nothing to nurture that sense of respect, you might be lucky to get a Mother’s Day text when they’ve grown up and left the house. Giving them the keys to the kitchen at a young age gives them a sense of ownership and hopefully builds family traditions they’ll want to continue.
So this Mother’s Day, resist the urge to orchestrate a picture-perfect meal, and sit back and enjoy the ‘Zasters! And if you’re still hungry after that, have them treat you to a nice meal out.