Time well spent


Any farm wife and mom out there can attest to the fact that there never seems to be enough time in the day. Household chores and outside chores quite often take a little bit longer with two toddlers in tow.

I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, and they love helping on the farm and in the house with various tasks my husband and I have to do. While they are much too young to help milk cows, drive tractor and cook meals, they love to watch and be with us as we go about these tasks.

We let them mix milk replacer for the calves and feed the cats and dog in the barn. I let them help stir or pour an ingredient in the bowl while I’m cooking in the house.

As long as it is not cold, our kids would spend hours on end outside. So, in the winter, going outside is limited, and the 20 minutes it takes to get the kids convinced to put their mittens and hats on, only to spend 10 minutes outside before they start complaining it is cold out, is not always worth the effort. The milder temps this winter is helping, but their attention span outside does not always last very long.

It feels great to see them curious about the cows, excited to feed the calves and begging to have a turn at stirring whatever I am making for dinner.

However, their speed and accuracy at completing these tasks is not the same as the adult in the room. Quite often, they mix with big, fast strokes that result in milk replacer or flour ending up on the floor. Sometimes, they use careful, thoughtful strokes, taking several minutes to mix a single pail of milk replacer.

Either way, tasks take longer even with multiple people “helping” the process. Sometimes, it means starting over, if the bowl or pail gets knocked over, and having to clean up a mess afterward. Sometimes, they lose interest half way through, because their favorite cat just walked by. Sometimes, the 3-year-old announces she needs to go potty right now, therefore, putting everything else on hold for a few minutes so we can run to the bathroom.

As annoying as it may feel in the moment, I keep encouraging them to help.

Just like when we potty trained our 3-year-old, repetition and encouragement go a long way. Even with older kids, heck even with adults, repetition and encouragement go a long way. I will admit sometimes I put in a movie for the kids if I know I do not have a lot of extra time to spare. If I am in the house as well, this does not always work as they tend to eventually be curious about what I am making in the kitchen. I take the time to do these tasks with them, showing and explaining to them what I am doing. It will be years before they can do it on their own, but one day, hopefully, they will look forward to doing these tasks with as much excitement as they currently do.

I was always working beside my mom in the kitchen and in the barn. That’s how I learned to bake, cook and do farm chores. Milking cows was not always my favorite chore, but I looked forward to it more as I got older because that is where my family was. My mom, dad, brothers and I each had our own individual chores to accomplish each day, but everyone had to help milk cows. Out in the barn is where most of our family decisions were made, news was shared and jokes were told.

We always ate meals together as a family, but quite often, they were rushed and conversations floated around what had gotten done that day and what else needed to be done. Another trick to get us all in the barn was once supper was done, the last person out the door and in the barn was the one who had to do the dishes.

Just like in farming, you reap what you sow. Taking a little extra time early on to do things right will lead to a greater result.


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