Allow me to set the scene: I am propped on a stepstool in my daughter Lucy’s bathroom. I’m balancing my laptop on my knees as Lucy enjoys her 2nd popsicle (sugar-free = lunch?), plays, and splashes! I already feel like this a “mom win” because the popsicle in the bath makes for an almost-no-mess, very little stickiness situation! It is 11:41 AM, and I am on a conference call with my team, and because we are all working from home, our cameras are on as we connect virtually.
Little do they know, I am terrified to unmute my microphone because any peep on the receiver could reveal on video that I am “listening” from the bathroom! My office for the past 41 minutes (yes, the bathwater is cold, but my daughter is still happy!) has been a bathroom with a four-year-old officemate!
I am a working mom. I like working, and I LOVE my daughter’s full-day pre-k program! Every day she works on building relationships and cognitive skills while engaging in play with classmates. Lucy misses her friends and teachers, and I am doing my best to live up to her personal hero, her teacher, Ms. Doreda. I am fortunate to work for an early childhood company that is providing weekly Family Connection experiences that help families such as ours to juggle full-time work and being present as I teach and engage with my Lucy. Side note: Has anyone EVER dealt with so many dishes in one week?! I must confess, as a former teacher, the thought of crafts, construction paper, and googly eyes was right up my alley, and I am looking forward to working with Lucy as we navigate this new landscape of being at home together.
There are opportunities for learning in everything you do during this time of uncertainty, and within the new ‘daily schedule’ we have implemented. Preparing meals and snacks with our children is an excellent way to teach a variety of skills while combating a must-do task (lunchtime, snacks, etc.!).
This newest Family Connection, entitled, Cooking with Kids , includes a recipe for “Sandwich-y Sushi.” This recipe/experience enabled Lucy to enhance her fine motor skills by rolling the bread, scooping and spreading the peanut butter, and squeezing and smoothing out the jelly. In addition, as I read the steps of the recipe, Lucy was unknowingly demonstrating receptive language skills (listening and following directions). Most importantly, when she finished making the sun butter and jelly rolls, she was so proud of the accomplishment (“I made my own lunch!”). Cooking provides endless opportunities, and for me, the best part was working together! I plan to add meal/snack preparation to our daily routine!
As you cook with your child(ren), consider engaging in meaningful conversation and, ask open-ended questions, such as the following:
1. Before we handle food, what is the MOST important thing to do? Show me the best way to wash your hands!
2. List 3 (or 5) of the ingredients we used today.
3. Help me remember—what was the first step in the recipe? What was last?
4. How do you feel about making your own food? Why do you feel that way?
5. Which step of the recipe was your favorite? Which step was the hardest?
6. What are some ways to stay safe in the kitchen?
7. How does healthy food make your body feel?
At the end of each day, I say to Lucy, “Tell me about your favorite part of today,” and today, she said, “Making our lunch together!” Once I stopped dabbing my eyes, I took a moment to consider the simple act of inviting my little one into the kitchen to work with me on a task that I usually complete on my own. So, give yourself a break and focus on the little, but OH-SO-IMPORTANT things such as ‘popsicle baths,’ games, nature walks, scavenger hunts, read-alouds, and lots of cuddles! Every moment we share with our children provides endless learning opportunities (for them and us!).
Family Connection Experiences are available every week, so come back, read, and reap the benefits!