A while back I had a moment of motherly inspiration. You know, when the heavens smile upon you and grant you a bit of wisdom telling you exactly how to handle whatever it is you happen to be trying to teach your child in that particular moment. I love those times. They happen to all of us. We just have to be listening, but unfortunatley, I'm not always a very good listener.
This particular moment I was getting ready to do the dishes (Yes, I have a dishwasher, but I like to wash my pots and pans the old fashioned way.). As I was about to start the hot water and pour the bubbles into it, I realized I had never done the dishes with my kids (at least this way- they've emptied the dishwasher with me before). I remember learning how to wash dishes and thinking it was so fun. I figured it was about time Noah washed some dishes.
I knew he would never want to do it if I bluntly asked, "Hey, Noah. You want to help me do the dishes?" The only reply I'd get with that request is, "No."
So, I thought of what else I could say. This is where the inspiration came. I asked Noah, "Would you like to play with bubbles with me?"
His eyes got wide and curious. "Yeah," he said. "Okay," I said, excited that he'd fallen into my trap. I grabbed two chairs, one for Noah and one for Clara, and put them on either side of me. Then I proceeded to teach them about washing dishes in the sink, the old fashioned way.
I told them how you need hot water and soap to get all the food and germs off the dishes. Then you need to scrub them with a rag. The most important lesson they learned, however, is the importance of playing with the bubbles. I scooped up some bubbles in my hand and blew them toward their faces. They laughed and of course wanted more. Noah blew bubbles of his own and Clara splash the soapy water around. By the end of our lesson in dish washing, there was soapy water all over the floor and counter (luckily my pans weren't very dirty, so the water was still pretty clean).
Noah not only loved playing with the soapy water, but he enjoyed using the rag to clean the pots and pans. I think he was so distracted by the fun of it that he didn't realize he was "working." All it took was a little sugar.
Like I said, this was a moment of heavenly inspiration for me. I admit that I don't always slow down and take the time to make everyday life fun. It's not always convenient to work this way. I had a watery, soapy mess to clean up, but that only took a second to wipe up (I think Noah helped with that too). I could have done the dishes myself, but here's how that scenario might have played out:
Noah: "Mom, will you play dinosaurs with me?"
Mom: "Not right now. I need to do these dishes."
Clara: Stands at my feet, bawling to be picked up.
Noah: "Mom, I want some milk."
Mom: "Either wait or you'll have to get it yourself."
Clara: Still bawling because she's being ignored.
Mom: Frazzled at trying to meet the demands of the house and the demands of those darn kids.
I think we've all had moments like this. Thankfully, I avoided this stressful scene by letting my kids work alongside me and having some fun along the way. I learned three things from this experience:
- Stop and listen to those inspiring nudges
- Have fun with your kids, even when you're "working," and they'll learn that work is fun when we do it together.
- Mary Poppins was right.