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Alyssa and her daughter enjoy breakfast together with a glass of chocolate milk close by.


Thriving, Not Just Surviving: Letting Our Kids Soar During Quarantine

In a time when we're all at home with our children, some indefinitely, our parenting needs have completely shifted. What used to be simple "Mom Hacks," may no longer apply. Why is this? For most, it's not our culture to have our kids home with us 24/7. So not only are we now all full-time moms, but we're also the teacher, the work-from-home mom and the playdate. What do you make of that? To me, it doesn't seem like a single person should be capable of having so many roles.

And it's true. In general, the world has different people to fill all of these roles in a child's life. That’s precisely because it's a lot for one person to do it all. So first of all, cut yourself some slack if “Zoom School” or Google Classroom hasn't been going the way it did when you used to play school as a kid. This time is challenging for all of us, and we just have to do the best we can.

 A little girl sits on her mom’s lap and holds out a sign that says I often question my parenting, but I also question my child’s childing.

Photo by Alyssa Goldwater

So let me be the first to tell you this Mother’s Day that you are awesome. You’re doing great. We will come out the other side of this, hopefully better. And I believe that our children will, too.

Something that has been incredibly eye-opening for me recently is how independent and responsible my 4-year-old daughter Miri is—now that I have more time to give her a chance to show me everything she can do. True, it’s much easier to cook dinner alone. But we’re in no rush to get anywhere, so we’ve started getting Miri involved in meal prep. She’s gotten pretty good at cracking an egg! We haven’t found a shell in almost a week now! She can even help cut onions and form hamburger patties. As a parent, my eyes have been completely opened to the possibilities of what she can accomplish. And now that I know, I’m letting her soar. I may even be starting to take advantage of it a little bit.

A little girl wears a snorkeling mask while she cuts onions.

Whatever helps make it fun! Photo by Alyssa Goldwater

Then I start to wonder why I never noticed Miri’s potential until now? I think it has a lot to do with society handing everything to kids on a silver platter. We live in a world of instant gratification, technology and spoon-feeding our kids. So this idea of letting kids help around the house and giving them real chores is almost unheard of, unless you’re one of those awesome homesteading families that I admire from afar on Instagram.

Since I started giving my daughter more responsibility around the house, not only have I seen her flourish and take pride in her roles, but I’ve felt a huge weight lift off of me. I don’t feel like we’re “just trying to get through the day” anymore. It’s a whole new perspective. Without all of the “other things” to do, this is our job. It’s time to slow down and reinvent new ways to live, and we’ve found incredible joy in helping our kids discover their potential through new responsibilities.

I recently created a video with Organic Valley about mom hacks for your toddler’s morning routine. Even though this video was definitely created in a different time, a morning routine is still super important. We may not be getting out the door, but we’re still getting our days going, and it all starts with breakfast. Even more so than when we made the video, Miri is a big helper at breakfast time. We now actually have more time to let her really help make breakfast in the mornings, which we’re both really enjoying.

I’m not here to suggest you go put your 4-year-old on a tractor in the field. No, I’m simply suggesting that there are many age-appropriate contributions a child can make toward helping your household thrive—things you may never have thought were age-appropriate. I would guess you’ll find that your children are more capable than you think, and they will likely say and do something incredibly funny along the way. I call it making memories.

Like when my daughter wanted to help clean our refrigerator for Passover. We gave her a spray bottle, a stool, and let her go. Little did we know that, when we looked back a couple of minutes later, she would literally be inside the ledge of the refrigerator so she could really get the job done! It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. And we’ll remember it forever. That I can assure you.

A little girl is kneeling inside the fridge while cleaning the shelves.

Sometimes you really have to get in there. (Photo by Alyssa Goldwater)

Here’s a small list of things that I never knew my 4-year-old could do until I let her try:

  • Load / unload the dishwasher (with assistance)
  • Set the table
  • Pump their own legs on the swing!
  • Water the plants
  • Load / unload the washing machine
  • Fold laundry
  • Put toys away in the right place
  • Get own fruit/snack/whatever out of the fridge
  • Assist with baking/cooking: chopping, pouring, mixing, forming, cracking eggs
  • Throw out garbage
  • Dust
  • Sweep floors
  • Spray surfaces (using non-toxic cleaner)
  • Put shoes away
  • Hang up coats
  • Clean up bedrooms
  • Make bed
  • Bring packages in
  • Hold the door
Little girl holds a spray bottle to help mom with cleaning chores around the house.

Photo by Alyssa Goldwater

If you give it a try, I think you’ll be incredibly surprised at what your child can—and wants to—help do around your home. I certainly enjoy my children more when I feel like we’re all working toward a common goal vs. me being everyone’s slave. And most importantly, you’ll start to cultivate your child’s independence and begin to see their full potential.

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