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©2018 by Homespun.

Slow Parenting + Little Helpers

“Just as you are your child’s first teacher, your home is where the most living and learning takes place … By becoming conscious of your own activities, by regulating our daily life in a harmonious, rhythmical way, by valuing what we do around our children, we are shaping their will forces and helping their physical bodies develop in as healthy a way as possible. In return, our children give us the gift of slowing down, of becoming more aware of our movements and our emotions, and of appreciating the uniqueness of each moment.”

{Rahima Baldwin Dancy from You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, 3rd Ed.}


These words hold much value and truth for me, as a mother. I truly believe in the idea that the art of homemaking can involve little ones. To me, this parenting philosophy is beautiful because it is about togetherness and teaching our children the value of simple, but very meaningful, tasks and activities done at home — cooking and baking are some of my favorites..


Just as there are many different philosophies and beliefs of parents and families in the world, there is a plethora of parenting styles. This more ‘hands-on’ approach is the one our family feels most connected to. I am not naming it as the best style by any means, but for us, it fits right now. As someone who writes and shares details of our lives openly, nearly every week I will get the questions, “But what do your kids do when you cook or clean?” and, “How do you keep your little ones engaged ALL day at home?” Or something along those lines. The short, simple answer is that we go about our day TOGETHER. We keep things simple, and we do our best not to rush. The journey to simplicity is one that we have begun in earnest this year. It has entailed - and still does - a complete overhaul of how we do life together. (I will be sharing more on that in future posts.)


Cooking is one of my favorite ways to spend quality time together. Giving our girls an open invitation to help me throughout the day gently encourages them to take part in our family rhythm, as they learn best through movement and imitation at this stage of their development. When I am making a meal or prepping ingredients to bake, I will start by setting everything out. Liberty is almost always the first to squeal "I wanna help!", grab a stool to stand on, and run back to the kitchen in excitement. I give the girls simple, sensory tasks alongside me, and it takes very little time for them to get started. A few things I also like to do when cooking are: listening to music and having visuals for recipes for them to look at.

When you think of your first experience cooking or baking, what do you think of? Did you learn an old family cookie recipe? Or maybe you learned how to scramble the perfect egg? Any of us who enjoy to cook usually can remember an early memory of how we began in the kitchen. My first memory of learning to cook is from when I was around age six. My mother taught me how to make scrambled eggs for breakfast, and I remember how big and important I felt, standing on the stool at the stove, stirring that pan of eggs all by myself. The next thing I remember is homemade biscuits...the kind that never has had any measurements...you just add and pour and mix until "it looks right." That happens to be one of the things that I perfected too. And, they are amazing. When it comes to tasks like cooking, the girls know they are welcome to help mama. It is optional, but never exclusive. Now, they are not poaching eggs, playing with knives, or running the controls on the stove, but I do try to leave enough room for them to come alongside me and participate, if they want to.

The kitchen is also a wonderful environment for teaching lessons such as early math and the development of fine motor skills. Music is another fun addition to our learning environment, while we are wrist deep in dough. Our playlists are almost always on throughout the day, and set a nice tone as we chop, mix, and pour.  We listen to many gentle, rhythmic, songs from our Waldorf playlist - some of our favorite artists are Lorraine Nelson Wolf and Elizabeth Mitchell.


Of course, cooking with children DOES more time (and patience) and makes a much larger mess, but when you mentally reframe this time together as a meaningful learning experience, the mess becomes secondary to the joy and connection they will feel alongside you. A hands-on experience, such as cooking, creates a holistic way to learn together, regardless of age. It also promotes healthier eating habits, makes children more self-sufficient in the kitchen, and empowers them to try new things on their plate at mealtime.

I wholeheartedly believe that teaching my girls to value the beauty of everyday life at home is such an important component of my role as their mother. There is much to gain outside of shortcuts and a hurried pace. If you have not read these two books, I would HIGHLY recommend that you do: You are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Nancy (which is where the quote at the top of this post is from ) and Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne. Below is a recipe the kids and I followed to make these yummy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies:


GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups (approx. 282 grams) All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon- Xanthan Gum (omit if gluten-free flour blend contains xanthan or guar gum)

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

  • 1 teaspoon Salt

  • 2 ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature

  • 3/4 cups (12 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, melted

  • 1 cup packed Brown Sugar

  • 1/2 cup Sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 2 Egg Yolks, room temperature

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour, xanthan (omit if flour blend contains xanthan or guar gum), baking soda and salt. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the cream cheese, and pour melted butter over it. Add brown sugar and sugar and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the regular paddle attachment on my mixer.)

  3. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks (one at a time) mixing on low-medium speed until well mixed.

  4. Add the flour mixture that you set aside earlier, beating on low until just combined.

  5. Add the chocolate chips and mix on low or by hand, just until mixed thoroughly.

  6. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours and up to 4 days.

  7. When you are ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and let sit for about 15-60 minutes or long enough for the dough to soften enough for easy scooping. 

  8. Preheat oven to 375°. Line cookie pans with sheets of parchment paper or silicone liners. Do not use cooking spray!

  9. Use a large cookie scoop to scoop even mounds of cookie dough spaced several inches apart. I can usually fit 12 per cookie sheet.

  10. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes at 375°. Remove when edges are set and just browning. The centers will look undercooked, but will continue cooking as they cool. To ensure you do not over bake, I suggest you bake a few test cookies so you can determine the right baking time for your personal oven. If you like gooey centers, decrease cook time. If you like crunchier cookies, increase cooking time.

  11. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for just 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

  12. Enjoy!!


XO

Stephanie

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