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10 Practical Things You Can Teach Your Kids While You Have The Time

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By now, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-outside-the-home mom, or work-from-home mom, your workload has most likely quadrupled. Probably the last thing you want to do is add another thing to your already overflowing to-do list. But if you need a break from work or cranking out yet another craft, there are some practical things you can teach your kids right now that will help them for life. Seriously.

“Each of these tasks are valuable for children to learn during this pandemic shutdown,” Erin Taylor, a parenting coach and author of Connection & Kindness: The Key to Changing the World Through Parenting, tells Romper. “These tasks teach children vital life skills they will need as they grow into independent adults.” Because, if we’re being honest here, there are so many things that we do as parents on a daily basis that our kids could probably be doing themselves. But for lack of time or energy, you’ve most likely been doing all of the heavy lifting — until now. These are the life skills that your kiddo has to learn at some point or another. And really, who better to pass along their expertise than you?

So take a break from Common Core (come on, you know you want to), relax, and teach your kid these real world skills instead.

1. Unload The Dishwasher

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If your household is like most, your dishes probably make their way to the dishwasher and then stay there while your family picks out plates and cups instead of putting them away. Thing is, your dishwasher shouldn’t serve as storage. So teach younger children how to unload the dishwasher by showing them where all the plates and cups go. After all, sorting is learning!

2. Sew A Button

Sewing is becoming a lost art. But knowing how to stitch something is still an invaluable skill. Take out a spool and teach your kiddo how to thread a needle (it’s definitely trickier than it looks). Then, you can give him something to sew together, like a couple of pieces of fabric, or show him how to sew the knees in his pants that he always wears out. Not only will it teach your child hand-eye coordination, but it can help improve his motor skills, too.

3. Make Their Bed

Studies have shown that making your bed can make you productive, CNBC reported. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their kid? Instead of leaving their bed in a swirling vortex of sheets and blankets, teach your child how to fix and fold their sheets and blanket, and fluff their pillows. It will teach them responsibility — and maybe, just maybe, get them to clean up their room, too. Which leads to…

4. Clean Up Toys

In some parallel universe, there are kids who put their toys away each and every night. But in this one, kids leave their crap anywhere and everywhere (and mostly underfoot, where you will inevitably trip over it). But it might just be that your child doesn’t really know how to put away their toys. So explain that by putting away their possessions, they not only keep them from getting damaged, but they’ll last longer as well.

5. Refill Hand Soaps

It’s so utterly annoying when you’re about to wash your hands and have to pump your soap container only to find that you (again) have to refill it. Break out that bottle of soap and teach your child how to refill the hand soaps in your home. Again, it will reinforce coordination skills and possibly get them to wash their hands while they’re at it.

6. Help Younger Kids With Homework

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Having fun doing all that daily instruction with your kiddos? (Yeah, us neither.) To lessen the load (er, teach your older kids the importance of passing on their knowledge), you can have your Biggies help the Littles with homework. “When children help their younger siblings with schoolwork, it gives them a sense of pride in their mastery of their sibling's subject matter,” says Taylor. “It also increases compassion as they help another person.” Plus, the additional instruction will help your older kids learn patience and help reinforce their own familiarity with the subject matter.

7. Cooking

When it’s the witching hour, the last thing you want to do is slow down the cooking process and show your child how to dice a carrot. But now that time has slowed down a bit (or, you know, a lot), you might want to include your kiddo in your culinary creations. Pick out a recipe that you can do together and give your little sous chef some responsibilities, like breaking an egg, measuring out the milk, or mixing the batter. Cooking teaches STEM skills (such as measuring and mixing), and you and your child get to eat your lesson — literally.

8. Journal Their Feelings

Not being in school. Being separated from their friends. This is a brave new world, and your kids probably have big emotions tied to it. In order to help them deal with it, you can introduce your child to the art of journaling. Writing is a wonderful way to not just document what’s going on, but also an amazing expression of how they feel. Your child might decide to type our their feelings in a Google doc, or put good old fashioned pen to paper and write their way to feeling better.

9. Knife Skills

Put a knife in your precious child’s hands? Uh, no thank you. But if your child can handle safety scissors, he probably can use a knife, too. “Children as young as two can start ‘cutting’ by simply tearing herbs or lettuce for salads,” Samantha Barnes, founder of Raddish Kids, tells Romper. “Cutting tools may be introduced as your child's dexterity develops.” Just make sure that your cutting tools are age-appropriate: “Plastic picnic knives, butter knives, and serrated dinner knives work well for young kids,” says Barnes. “Kids’ craft scissors are also a good tool to cut ingredients like herbs, deli meats, cheeses, and veggies.”

10. Kitchen Safety

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Although it might be the room where everyone gathers, the kitchen isn’t exactly the safest space in your home. That’s why teaching your child some simple kitchen safety tips is a good idea during the pandemic. “I advise kids to keep their elbows up,” says Barnes. “Remember that pans are hot, so keeping elbows up protects wrists and arms from getting a burn when stirring something on the stove.” Other things to caution your kiddos about is a hot oven, advises Barnes. “We yell ‘Hot Oven Opening’ when putting things into, or taking things out of the oven,” says Barnes. “My kids practice with cold baking sheets and brownie pans in an oven turned off, so they feel confident when the dish is actually hot!”

As a parent, there are so many things that we can teach our children. Learning these practical skills can set your child up for success in the future — and hopefully prevent you from ever having to empty the dishwasher again.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all our Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here on this page, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.

Experts:

Erin Taylor, a parenting coach and author of Connection & Kindness: The Key to Changing the World Through Parenting

Samantha Barnes, founder of Raddish Kids