Keep It Simple
I know about this and I work to keep things simple. However, being at home for an extended period of time has been wreaking havoc on my brain. : )
The other day I decided to help the grands, all four of them, make cookies. Now that isn’t a big deal except, I decided to let each one make their own kind. And let’s not forget that Maggie is special needs and must have constant help to participate.
I know, I was out of my mind! : ) I asked Don to help. I reasoned that he could help the two boys, one 12 and one 6. The 12-year-old wouldn’t need much help. I would help the girls, one 10 and one 14, with special needs. The 10-year-old is creative and fairly independent. That should work out alright.
NOT! Don couldn’t manage two at a time and was totally involved with the six-year-old. That left me with three. As for the twelve-year-old, I discovered that when it comes to cooking, he needed a lot of help. And as far as the 10-year-old goes, she couldn’t read my cursive. Of course, her recipe card was in my cursive. Sigh. It was like trying to wrangle chickens. You’ve never done that. Well, trust me, it’s tiring!! And here is another thing. I am perfectly aware that expectations can do a good project in. I teach that. I am an expert.
BUT I forgot my own advice.
Here is what I thought. Each one will be able to measure the ingredients. All but Ben will be able to cream the sugar and shortening, no problem. Then they will cook their cookies, we will eat some and each will clean up their spot on the table. WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!
Here is how it went. No one knew that you had to pack shortening or brown sugar into the cups and had to be shown. No one could cream the sugar and shortening without significant help. They struggled to even find the correct measuring cup. After one pan of cookies, they were done and had flown the coop, so to speak. As for gathering them back to clean up, GET REAL!
I have to say, that I remained CALM while I was working with the kids. During the baking, I felt myself begin to slip. That is when I should have STOPPED, thought it out, and packaged a ton of dough in plastic wrap and utilized the freezer. But when we are brain-fried we stop thinking. LOL
It took me three hours to cook and put all those cookies away and I had two ovens going. We began at 1:30. The kids were done in by 2:30. I finished at 5:30. Then I was grumpy the rest of the evening. Fortunately, I live in a different part of the house and they never even knew. Poor Don, he lives with me!
When we work with children there are ways to keep it happy for us, as well as them. There are ways to remain energetic to the end and spend the evening cheerful. That is useful because unlike me, you do live in the same house with your kids.
Five Tips For Happy Times With Kids
1. Remember that kids are process-driven. They like the process of whatever the activity is and when that part is done, they are done. They are not concerned with the outcome – in other words baking the cookies or cleaning up, for that matter.
2. Watch your expectations. Link your satisfaction to your ability to enjoy what is even when it falls short of your expectations.
3. Mentally prepare for a mess. There will be one. There is NO way around it!
4. If you keep things simple you will manage better. Only make one batch of cookies at a time, not four!
5. Think through the time needed for the whole project so you don’t find yourself giving more than you planned. The present example is perfect – making cookies from 1:30 to 5:30. To long!
Working with children is so rewarding if we manage our adult way of thinking, have realistic expectations, keep it simple and stay present.