At Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne talks a lot about adding rhythm and “pressure valves” to the day. A pressure valve is a time and space that a child (or family member of any age) can rely on, a time and space in which they can let go if need be. Some examples are grace or a moment of silence at meal times, bedtime check-ins and prayers, of after school snacks… Of course, these options are limited only by what your family needs and can create in your home.
One place that always needs work in our house is the kitchen. Some people seem to be born with a knack for keeping a kitchen clean. Not me. Not Papa-Bug. Both of us enjoy a clean kitchen, and both of us love food and cooking. Neither of us has good follow through when we are cooking. One thing I really want to pass on to the kids is a sense of cleanliness and follow-through, and the joy found in keeping our space clean.
So, about 2 weeks ago we started a new after-dinner rhythm that has been working very well. Everyone helps clean up the kitchen while one grown-up reads aloud to the workers. Even Sister-Bug has a job – she takes the napkins to the laundry – before she does some water play in the sink next to the tidying parent. Brother-Bug clears the table and counters to the space for dirty dishes, scrapes the dishes into the compost, and sweeps up under the table. We frequently find ourselves pausing to listen to a particularly exciting part of our book, or pausing reading to help keep the kids on task. Brother-Bug’s chores are still obviously done by five-year old hands (we need to re-sweep usually), but he gains competence with each evening we work together.
|Sister-Bug loves doing dishes.|
The most amazing thing to me is that there has been no resistance from Brother-Bug (or anyone else, but I didn’t expect Sister-Bug to say she didn’t want to play in water…). He calmly and even joyfully tackles each task, and is easily drawn back to our project when his attention strays.
I need to do a little preparation for it to work out easily for everyone – like making sure the dishwasher is empty and the knives aren’t in Sister-Bug’s sink, but that is easily accomplished in a day (most days, anyway). I am delighted at how this is working so far – a cleaner kitchen all around, helpers and learners with me, everyone going to bed earlier since no parent (usually Papa-Bug) is left up late with a filthy kitchen, and such a simple way to connect.
Our after-dinner clean up is rapidly becoming my favorite time of day.
In related news, Papa-Bug has started a new Blog! When we started dating, almost ten years ago, we were both avid writers. Hopefully some of that passion is coming back and both of us can do more writing. I especially like the way he reviews beer – it always gives me a chuckle.