Friday, August 31, 2012

Meal Planning with the Kids

If you've been following me for awhile, you already know that I'm big on giving children responsibilities.  This summer, while attending a festival in NC, I attended a workshop facilitated by Sister Aljoise Aldrich Knight on the topic Women's Work in the Creation of a More Perfect Union.  (I loved the title.) Basically she lead a discussion about what we're doing as women and mothers to create the kind of people we want to see in the world.  She shared several examples of things she did with her own children to help them become successful adults.  During our conversation, a good number of the women who attended were able to share things they were doing as well.

I have to say that most of what people shared wasn't new to me.  Truth is, most of us pretty much know what "things" we should do.  But sometimes we just need to hear it again, through another person's perspective--in their words, for it to really set in.

This conversation was that for me.  I've been putting things in place for my children to be responsible and to contribute to our home, to contribute and participate in the good of our community.  But there is definitely a bit of control I've still had.  I mean, at the end of things, I want things done a certain way, during a certain time, with a certain amount of speed....(you get the picture!).

Well, since that time this summer, I've been actively working to equip my children with the skills needed to be pretty good at what I'll be asking them to do this school year.  I'm also letting go of a lot of the control I've had.  Little steps, little steps (smile)!  But I've got to start somewhere, right?  I don't want to end up with nearly grown people who don't know how to take care of themselves all because I had to have it done a certain way.

As I've previously shared, we've taken most of the summer months to learn how to do a good job completing the chores around the house.  Each of my children started with a specific list of things they learned how to do thoroughly.  After they could do it without any help, they then become responsible for teaching their siblings how to complete the job.  Yes, there were several days that I felt like I was going to LOSE MY MIND!!!! But, I kept remembering Sister Knight's words about mothers needing to let their children figure things out and do for themselves.  How giving them that space grows them and relieves the pressure and stress so many mothers carry around.  I'm proud to say that all this teaching and learning time has not only benefited them but me as well.

That being said, I decided this morning that instead of doing all this meal planning and cooking myself, I should now involve my children.  I told each of the children that after breakfast I wanted to meet with them so we could plan our meals for next week.  Each of them perked up with excitement.  (They are really liking this 'conferencing' that we've been doing and so I'm going to use it.  By making appointments with each of them, they seem more willing to wait their turn.)

We started by listing all the different meal options that we have (on hand, since we just went grocery shopping) and then another list of meals we liked (and would plan for).  I then took each of them through what kinds of foods we needed to have from each food group (pulled on our food pyramid lessons!!).  I let Pretty Girl start by planning our breakfasts.  She will also be responsible for preparing them.  After she finished, Sweetie Pie then decided on what we'll have for lunch each day--she too will be responsible for preparing them (with help).  The Boy and I will finish up with dinner plans.

Two things about this that stood out to me:
1. Each of my children came up with good ideas and took ownership of thinking through how each meal should compliment the next (we don't need to have the same foods all day long).
2. My level of 'stress' associated with coming up with meals is gone!!!

By simply equipping my children to do it, it got done.  Meals are planned! Whoopie!!!

At the end of next week, we'll take time to plan for the following one.  I will pick a day, for each of them, to try a new recipe so that we don't get bored with the meals and add some variety to our dishes.  I'm feeling good about that--and, more importantly, so are they.

I am hopeful that I am growing and making room for each of them to develop and practice new skills so that they can become the kinds of people I want to see in the world (kind, compassionate, responsible, trustworthy, respectful, passionate, generous, honest, considerate, spiritual, thoughtful, hard working, creative, etc., etc., etc.)

Are there ways in which you need to stretch yourself outside your parenting comfort zone?  What specific thing or things are you doing to raise your children to be the kinds of people you'd like our world to be filled with?  Please share a comment below!  If you've already blogged about this topic, please a link.  I'd love to hear what other like-minded mothers are and have been doing.  Thank you.

Happy Home Learning!

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