If you’ve been in a daycare center or elementary school classroom, or even the toy section of your local super-mart, you’ve probably seen some of the following:
- a pretend kitchen
- a pretend laundry center
- a pretend grocery store
- a pretend post office
- a pretend baby nursery
Life Skills – At an early age, children are capable of doing their own laundry and cooking several dishes on their own in addition to other household tasks. At 8 years old, my youngest was not only doing his own laundry, but he was the best clothes folder in the house. This is because he had been engaged in the real thing for quite some time working right beside others in our family. Instead of pretending to cook, my children were actually making real grilled cheese sandwiches, scrambled eggs, french toast and much more. These acquired skills have not only been a tremendous help to me, but they have given my children a sense of pride and self-reliance. Experience tells me that not only will they someday thank me for learning these things, but their future spouses will be grateful as well.
Bonding Time – Pretend kitchens and laundry centers easily accommodate single alone playtime, but the real thing not only needs adult supervision but invites interaction and team work. This quality together- time not only strengthens life skills, but strengthens bonds between loved ones. When we are involved in mixing and measuring for a batch of cookies, or homemade blueberry jam, we are totally immersed in our project together, pushing outside distractions away. I have fond memories of working in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother.
Rewards of Work – I’ve already mentioned two of the rewards for household work – acquiring life skills and strengthening bonds with those we love, but there are other rewards that perhaps stand out the most – like freshly baked bread, or cookies right from the oven. Or what about that favorite shirt all clean and ready to wear on a special day? There is such satisfaction in completing a task and reaping the rewards.
If imitation is indeed the finest form of flattery, then maybe we should value the real - the original a little more highly.
What REAL memories do you like making with your family?
Note: I realize there is value in pretend play. My point is we need not overlook or neglect the real deal as it is of far more value.