Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Keeping It Real

My nerves are completely shot and my stomach is feeling the part of a stressed out mommy.

I worked hard at including the little ladies in our chores this morning. I know they need to be doing these things with me - yet, I find that it is so much more hassle and problematic to have them help me. There. I've said it.

However, I set things up this morning to make it easier for them to help me and it went fairly smoothly. One cleared the table while the other put a load of clothes in the washer. Then, while I vacuumed, one put the load of wet clothes in the dryer while the other added another load to the washer. I was feeling pretty good about this.

Then, we moved on to making carrot cake - part of our BFIAR activities for this week. Is it just me or is cooking with more than one little stretching? I have learned that dividing the ingredients in half and giving them each their own bowl to stir helps - and we did that today. They each added their own flour, sugar, eggs, spices, etc...

Everything fell apart when Rachel's batter was being spooned out of her bowl into a measuring cup and spices were landing on her arm, the chair, the floor, etc... and Emily was needing my help with something else. Meanwhile, Samuel was crawling near my legs screaming his lungs out to be picked up. He'd already had a snack and just wanted me to pick him up.

It went down hill drastically from there - and I wondered why I even suggested we bake carrot cakes today. I had thought it would be a fun way to incorporate carrots from our book - but I should know from past experience that baking is one of the most stressful things for me to do with my children.

I wondered why my patience level is so low in the kitchen. I wondered why I cannot handle the children God has given me. I wondered what my children will remember about baking with me (oh, let's not go there today). I wondered if I am expecting too much of them for their age - perhaps this isn't the season to cook together. Wondering, wondering.

And, all the while - the knot in my stomach is growing more intense and my voice is growing less patient and louder. I don't like being this kind of mommy - and it makes me feel like such a failure. I have apologized to them - but my nerves are still completely shot and I feel like there are many questions that I am still processing.

Perhaps I need to be poured into a pan and baked a while to be refined with God's love so that I can come out something more desirable and enjoyable.

Or, maybe we should just stay out of the kitchen for the next few years.

The timer is going off - so I must go and get the cakes from the oven...

68 comments:

gail said...

oh monica! i'm sending you a big hug right now!!! now i'm no expert, but the littles do seem a little young to be helping with any serious baking. no, their not to young to stir and plop in ingredients, but since it isn't a joyful thing for you and the girls maybe you can shelve it for a couple years and revisit it later. esp with samuel looking for attention too.

i know others will comment and give you advice. hang in there with the Lord. He'll direct you! and you are a good mother---don't believe the enemies lies.

((((((((BIG HUG)))))))))))

Tami said...

Monica,
I have a 3 and 4 yr old. Very recently they turned 3 and 4. I too tried to incorporate everything together including cooking and baking in the kitchen. In the end, they would both experience an unpleasant momma. What I have settled to do when it comes to the kitchen is that one helps me at a time. If Jonathan helps me with dinner tonight, Emma gets to help me cooking tomorrow. It was very difficult for them at first but now things are fine and running smoothly.
Occasionally when we bake they both help me. One on each side of me with the bowl in front of me. They must take turns adding ingredients and mixing. If one is mixing, the other adds ingredients and then they switch. The must do this without fighting, arguing or tears. If one starts in, they must leave the kitchen while the other helps me finish.
I don't have a little one at my feet so I don't know if this will help at all.
At first, it was difficult to enforce these decisions because of the tears and the lack of understanding (initially). I still don't know if they fully understand but it is now second nature.
It is important to me to teach my children patience...something I feel I lack terribly. I want them to learn to be a team. I want them to know that often times God uses not just one person for his puspose but rather a team. Each person has a part. We need each other. Emma can't mix anything if Jonathan doesn't add the ingredients but if Jonathan adds the ingredients and Emma doesn't mix, we end up with nothing but a bunch of gunk just sitting in the bowl.

Maggie said...

They're too young to be expected to help you make a perfect dinner... They're not too young to make messes if you're happy with that.

They don't have to help out every day at their age, perhaps once a week or two make a simple cake, give them the ingredients, you make a proper one whilst they make a few cupcakes with their own mush. Clean up will take a little while and once they get to the age when they want to make something look pretty and taste as good as yours, they'll ask :)

Try thinking of non-cooked food that they can help with on a more regular basis, like sandwiches, or fruit salad with yoghurt, once you have prepared everything they will need.

At the end of the day - you're the Mom and your happiness needs to come first. Being in the kitchen with you should make them happy and if you're stressed they wont enjoy it - and then what's the point? Lower expectations of yourself first, you can't expect to be able to teach them to cook by the age of 8.

Blessings

mary bailey said...

Bless you, Monica. Take it easy and go easy on yourself! You are a great mom to your little ones. Just remember that sometimes you have to simply "live life"---not everything can be made into a party, an event, a special occasion, or even a teaching moment.

I want to thank you for taking time out to "Keep it Real" with us. It really helps those of us who are also experiencing "off" days. Bless you, dear!

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think you are expecting too much from them...and yourself. Baking can be a challenge even with one toddler around; you have 3 littles. How about having them help with something a little more straighforward (and less precise/messy)

Kim from Philadelphia

The McMurrays said...

Love, love, love your honesty! Thank you for sharing your heart. It is such a blessing to us other mommies that are struggling and wondering such things (and others)too...! You are indeed a wonderful mother (it's VERY obvious how much you love and care!). Take a deep breath and a quiet moment with the Lord...He never fails even when we feel like we do! Blessings to you, Monica.
Savannah McMurray

Bonnie said...

My own kidlets have been causing me a bit of stress around here, so I can certainly relate.
When my older 2 (also Emily and Rachels ages) want to help, I usually stand them both at the counter, measure it myself then (with my hand over theirs) help them dump it in the bowl. We alternate by measurements or ingredients. This seems to help cut down on messes, teaches them to take turns, and they still get to help.
Bravo for having them help with laundry and table clearing! Audrey LOVES helping me, and Brady wants to do whatever his sister is doing.
The hardest part is getting past the "It will be done right, faster, and neater if I do it myself" part. We all have days like yours, mine was yesterday, and sometimes, we just need to stop. Tough as it is, let the rest of the day go, and get necessities done. This gives you a chance to relax (mentally) and refocus a bit, and to also keep from getting more frusterated with littles.
My mom keeps reminding me that my kids are still little, they do things as little kids will do them, not as we who have been doing them for years will.
You are doing fine making memeories for your children, and while yes, they may remember the "Grouchy Mama" days a little more than you would like, they will still know you love them very much, and that they are your treasures.
A hug, and a command for you to get something comforting to drink, and rest a few minutes with a book. 10 minutes can do wonders to relax and revive your spirit!

mary bailey said...

Monica, after reading your post I was encouraged to write my own "Keeping it Real" post on my blog. I linked back to you, if that's ok.

Hugs to you and hope your day is looking brighter already!

Michelle said...

Monica,

I feel your pain. My three are always up for helping in the kitchen but I have done this before and it has turned out just as you have explained.

I always helped my mom and nana in the kitchen growing up and it was great but I was the only one out of the three that cared about this.
I couldn't wait for the day to come when one of mine would want to help me but it is never just one it is all three.

This is how I have been working the kitchen over the past few years. I either wait until one is asleep or playing and would not care that the other is helping me. Or you can plan to do two different items and let one help with the first and then the other with the second. This works because you can focus one project at a time plus still know what the other two are doing. Sometimes I wait untli the hubby is home to do some play time while I let one of the others help me out.

It is upsetting to have things go south but you are a wonderful mother and your children love you.
Always remember god will always be by your side.

Jodie said...

Hi, Monica. Thanks for sharing so honestly with us. I've been reading your blog for some time now, but haven't commented yet. I'm always encouraged, challenged, and learn a lot from you!

I have actually regretted not keeping my kids in the kitchen with me more. They're still only 7 & 5. But my friend who has four littles 6 & under, and another one on the way, has done the rotating kitchen helper plan, as well. One helps at a time with a various meal or baking project. That has seemed to work well for them.

Obviously there's no right way to do any one thing as we train our kids. But I think that if you experiment a bit with it, you still might find a way to make it work so that you all enjoy it and have fun, peaceful times in the kitchen. (And messy! :-) ) I would just encourage you to pray about it and ask the Lord to give you a sense of direction and a sense of peace about what is right for you and your kiddos as this stage of your life. Maybe taking a break for a bit and thinking about different ways to do it and talking with Him about it...you'd come up with something fresh.

Just my thoughts, for whatever they're worth. I'll be addressing this myself before long, as I've avoided the extra "hassle" of having them alongside me, but I've done mine a disservice by not training them as much as I would have liked to along the way, and now I've got to go back and re-train, which is something I never wanted to do. Baby will be here in a few months, and that'll give us new challenges, so I hope the Lord will help me to have my routines and systems and training opportunities in better order before this one comes! :-)

We all struggle with this stuff, if we're working to be proactive parents, so don't be too hard on yourself. From everything I have read here on your blog, I am very impressed with all that you do with and for your children. It seems that God has given you an ability to do work, fun, make memories along the way...your children are blessed to have you!

Praying His matchless grace on you,
a Sister in Christ

Ginger said...

Oh, Monica--I feel for you. I can't imagine how you do all that you do anyway with 3 under the age of 5. Don't be so hard on yourself--you're not Super Woman, or was it WonderWoman from my childhood? You have years and years to teach the girls to bake. Perhaps as Gail said, they are a bit too young for baking. That doesn't diminish your ability as a mom. God gave you THOSE children because HE trusted you with them and knew YOU would be perfect for them--not perfect--just perfect for THEM.

Deanna said...

My heart goes out to you....I agree with Gail and Maggie but Monica, when you feel yourself coming to a boiling point..just stop, get your babies and hold them in your arms until it passes. I promise they won't remember the chaos, just the good time they had with mommy stirring and pouring.

Is there something healthy for them recipe-wise that they could make using cookie cutters or children's rolling pins?

I think your friends are wonderful in giving you their best advice.

Blessings to you,
Deanna :D

Anonymous said...

Hey Monica, sending ((hugs)) to you.
Have you thought about letting the little ladies play at baking with play dough. If you make your own play dough it can be quite inexpensive. With my little one, when we're baking he doesn't get to do everything, I let him stir, weigh or seive the ingredients and best of all, lick the spoon at the end. He gets to help Mummy and he loves feeling like he's being helpful.
You are an amazing Mum Monica, and there will be plenty more oportunities in the future to have a great time baking with your littles.
Charlotte UK :)

Jenny said...

I baked cookies with my kids yesterday and had these same thoughts...WHY am I doing this? When, in reality, they would have had just as much fun (or more!) if I would have sat and played with them on the living room floor.

Julie Kreke said...

THANKS for your honesty. I have difficulty keeping my patience while my 2 year old "helps" in the kitchen and the 9 month old is crying for me on the floor... much less adding a third child (or more!). I keep praying "God PLEASE help me behave as you want me to in this moment"...but how quickly I fail! It is so nice to read about someone else (who I really admire) having the same issues. God is working on you so much in this challenging season in your life and drawing you closer to Him. Thank you for having the courage to share.

Julie said...

Monica, I feel your pain.
Thank you so much for posting this.
I was starting to think I was the only one who found baking with my three year old super stressful. He wants to help so much whenever there are ingredients to measure and mix, a batter to stir, or dough to work. I get paranoid about the inevitable mess, and no one has a good time.
Yet I keep trying thinking, "maybe this time it will be better." It has gotten better, but things are still so far from him actually helping.

CountryMama@The Cozy Country Home said...

We have ALL been there. You are normal. Baking is stressful in itself, when children are running around the house, nonetheless helping you! What works for me is to involve them with one or two steps (mixing or pouring in flour, or measuring) then that's it. You still involved them, they still "own" their part in the activity and the finished product. You certainly can't do it all, and we all have days like this! (some more than others) It's part of being a mom! Keep up the good work, fix a cup of tea, and enjoy your cake!

Bevy said...

I love it!! I laughed as I read, because this is so relatable and I am "wondering" right there with you. And my little ones are too little to "help" me yet. Yet I think about the near future with getting them to help me in the kitchen,etc. I know it's part of their growing up, their training and yet I know myself. I turn into this "crazy Mommy" in the kitchen, just in trying to get dinner on the table when Caleb is at my feet, crying, begging or playing in the drawers or cuboard right where I need to be at the moment... and Aubrey is crying from the seat wherever she is at.
And of course, magically five minutes before Scott walks in the door... all is calm.

I would rather do it all myself... it's easier that way. I don't know how it will ultimately turn out for me in the years ahead. But I do appreciate your inspiration in the way you are training your little ones. Thank you! The fact that you even recognize your need to "slow"...to be poured out, to be baked in God's "love-oven" is already an evidence of His Sweet Grace for you, in you and through you. The
Carrot Cake sure does sound good, though. How did it turn out?

Mom said...

Dearest Monica,
Bless you for all that you do with and for your sweet children -- and for being so open and honest on your blog. I see you have had several suggestions about letting one of the little ladies help you at a time -- another thought is to do baking like this when your "mother's helper" is there. You only have two hands -- and with three small children (for a total of six small hands!), you are outnumbered!

Your children are very young -- they will not remember as much about this as you will. (How much do you remember about helping me in the kitchen when you were 4 years old or younger?)

I know you have high ideals and expectations -- and you have wonderful ideas about involving the littles in what you are doing or learning. Maybe it would be more fun for all of you if your baking was "pretend" for now!

Lots of love, Mom/Grammie

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

I have no words for you, because I'm right in the same place. I like the idea someone had of a designated kitchen helper, but at the same time my girls need to be able to help and get along with each other. ((((hugs)))) You are doing great ... we're all learning as we got along.

Angie said...

((hugs)) I remember having very little patience and so I never really went there with my daughter. It was far easier, faster and less messy to do it my self. Sadly, now that she is 16, I regret my past decisions because she is poorly equipped, as I was as a new mom, to help me or to venture out successfully on her own.

It may be trying now for you but you are in the long run giving them lessons (and memories) they will appreciate for all their adult lives.

Sarah said...

I feel ya! Totally. My little gal-2 yrs. loves to get in and get dirty and taste everything. Even the flour. and for some odd reason, she thinks it tastes good so digs in some more! Baking can be a serious mess. Coordination is not yet developed and so oatmeal, eggs and flour go flying. Often, right after I've cleaned the floor. I can get exasperated to say the least! Especially when the baby (8 months) is hollering in his highchair protesting his lack of involvement!! Some ways to cut down on the exasperations: Put the baby to bed first! Then, premeasure ingredients into little cups or something. It helps alot, whenever I take the time to do this (usually a premeditated thing, like early morning or the night before, set out whatever you can and get it measured. That way, there's less mess.) That way, they get to dump and pour into the bowl, but you've already gotten the flour bucket and the sugar put safely away! Have the 2 girls take turns putting things into the bowl. And, start with less messy things and work at them until they are mastered, then move on to the messier. If you want them to learn measuring, do so with dried beans, pasta shapes, etc-something less messy!! God speed. We mom's hear you 100%!!!! And, remember, it's never to early for the littles to start learning domestics!

Liz said...

Monica,

These are all good comments and thoughtful insights. I just wanted to let you know that, despite your frustration, you are still blessing me, your littles, and others with your honesty today. I struggle daily with patience for my boys, and it's good to know that I am not alone. I also am reminded time and time again, that God's power is made perfect in our weakness. If we were naturally sooo amazingly patient and perfect, what need would we have for God to do His transforming work in each of us? What opportunity would you have to show God's glory, grace, mercy and power at work, making you into a new creation over time? I am not suggesting we "sin all the more". I am only thanking God today for the journey to holiness He has us ALL on and His grace that picks us up when we struggle. Blessings!

*carrie* said...

Monica,

I admire you for even being willing to *try* baking with the girls. I haven't even attempted such a thing with Nathan!

It seems like there are other activities you enjoy doing more with them, and I think that's OK. They'll have plenty of opportunities to bake ahead of them . . .

Jamie said...

Monica! I must, must, must comment. I am so far behind with reading my favorite blogs and I've missed yours! It's been chaotic around here to say the least and I've felt like I am failing on a daily basis(well, almost). I find it hard to admit some of my feelings to others. Then I come here and I read your words and think, "I AM NOT ALONE!" And neither are you my dearest favorite blogger! I'm off to email you a prayer that a friend of mine gave me on a particularly difficult day. I now read it two..three...four times a day.

I do pray that today is a better day for you and that you are putting aside some of your expectations and perhaps perfectionism(I only say that because it is something I struggle with).

You are THE CREAM OF THE CROP when it comes to many things, especially parenting. Give yourself some GRACE...because our heavenly Father surely already has!

Jelly Sandwich said...

Oh Monica! I only know you from your blog, but I suspect that you are a great mom! I tend to get very overwhelmed when I forget that this is a "season." Our family enjoys cooking together, but we save it for when another adult can be with us. Hang in there!

Sue said...

First....I LOVE your blog...enjoy reading about your family and I see your love through your writing. I admire your honesty and want you to know that I have been there...I know that I felt it was much easier to do things myself and now I look back and wonder if maybe that was an injustice to my children. Chores are important. I know that I didn't have my children help cook so young because I taught school and meals were pretty hectic. There were the "special" times for making cookies, etc. However, grandchildren are totally different!!! They love coming and asking if we can cook. I think you are being hard on yourself. YOU ARE a wonderful mother and maybe you could just let them help with cooking on a special day (when someone can help with the baby). Continue writing cause you are touching many people.

julie said...

Dear, dear Monica! I just recently discovered your blog, and I LOVE it. I also just started blogging myself. I think you are my kindred e-spirit! I have 2 boys, ages 4 1/2 and 1 1/2, and I am SO with you on it being easier to do things without them! Recently the older one wanted to get a new DVD, and I told him he'd have to earn it by helping me out. Well, it was the easiest-earned DVD ever! I bought him a 3-drawer bin to organize the overflowing toys in... he stuffed it not with toys from the floor, but toys from another bin! Before the week is out I'll probably have emptied and re-filled the bin and put labels on it. For right now, he is watching his new DVD while I ignore the mess everywhere and read my favorite blogs. :)

God bless you and your sweet little ones...especially when they're a sweet mess!

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with frazzled moms like me!

Monica said...

We've all been there in some way or the other. For me it's the piano. Playing the piano is one thing that I hold dear and have learned that it's better that I pay for my children to take lessons rather than stress over teaching them myself. Recently our teacher resigned and I brought up the option of me taking over. My oldest said, "Um, mom....I think it might be okay, but are you going to get mad at us?" Ugh.

I found in the kitchen that I can only handle one helper at a time. (I have 7 kids 12 to 2) One to cook and the other to bake. I call them in when I am ready for my helper and it goes fairly smoothly. I like the one-on-one time and they do, too.

Hang in there. Pray for wisdom and know that it WILL get easier.

Tracey said...

I feel your pain...this is not a patient mommy either and I just started!

Kristin said...

Hi Monica -
I haven't posted much lately, but I'm still faithfully reading and being encouraged by your blog. Thank you so much for your vulnerability and honesty! To say that I can relate would be an understatement! In fact, I feel like I'm just hobbling through most of my days right now and am so frustrated with myself in own lack of patience and joy with my kiddos. It's not how I want it to be and I most certainly have a lot of work to do. I don't have any words of wisdom for you, but just want you to know that I can relate more than you know! Thanks for sharing!

Love,
Kristin

Gena said...

Monica, I have commented before on how amazing and creative you are. You do far more with your three, who are still SO little, than I think I ever did with my 4.

I agree with several of the ladies who commented saying that you need to be a bit easier on yourself. You are involving your children in your life. You are teaching them, little by little, to be helpers to you. They do NOT have to learn it all before they are 5. And, they will probably enjoy it more and remember it better when they are a bit older.

I have homeschooled all of my children. Their ages are 23, 20, 14 and 10. They were with me all day, every day, just as yours are. They truly do learn by watching as well as by doing. One of my daughters loves to cook - therefore, by the age of 10, she is fully capable of making a complete meal - any meal - whenever I ask. My son was always a mechanical/tool using sort of kid. Now, at 20, he can fix anything, build anything or do anything I need help with. My 23 and 14 year olds are the artistic ones. They have painted rooms, decorated my home, built furniture, made artwork for my walls, photographed memories in a far more beautiful way than I ever could have.

I didn't necessarily "teach" them all to do these things, but I did do them myself and they were just around it. Yes, they had chores. Yes, they were all taught to sew, iron, cook, do laundry and clean. But, I, like you, got so stressed out trying to make it happen sometimes that it wasn't a pleasant experience for any of us. And you know that old saying "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". This doesn't mean that anyone is supposed to make me happy. It does mean that I am supposed to spend my time with the Lord (quiet or not-so-quiet) and do those things with my children that are enjoyable and that we can all handle.

You do so much. You continue to amaze me. You have such high expectations of yourself. If I have learned anything in my 48 years, it has been to lower my expectations - both of myself and those around me. Take time to enjoy your littles and all the messes that they make. Then, take time to recover from cleaning up all the messes that they make!

I have a best friend that has always been my accountability partner. She is a strong Christian mother of 4. She, too, homeschools. Our job is to make sure that each of us takes time for ourselves and our husbands, so that we have enough to give to our children. That is a difficult thing when your children are so small.

I am now in a different phase in my life. I lost my husband 7 months ago and I am having to be mama, daddy, teacher and everything else. I still have to remember to recharge so that I have plenty to give to my children. If it seems like it is too hard or too much, it probably is.

You are doing a wonderful job. I check your blog each time I'm online and you are a constant source of wonderful ideas for me.

I will keep you in my prayers!

Rebecca said...

Sweet friend,
I so so hear you. And, I am so there with you. Today in Target I had to pick up a screaming toddler off the floor - and the only way he'd quiet down is by giving him a bag of Cheetos. Then, the bag of cheetos was turned upside down and there were Cheetos all over the floor of the checkout lane and all over our stuff in the cart. I thought Why??? Why did I attempt to do this errand right on the boarder of nap and lunch time? What was I thinking?? How do I get us into these situations? On and on the conversation goes.

It's easy to beat yourself up - but instead, just help yourself to a huge bowl of grace and enjoy every bite.

I'll have to go back and read all of these encouraging comments when I have a few more minutes.

I love you friend and hang in there!

Rebecca

Karen said...

Thanks so much for your honesty and the encouragement you are to everyone who reads!

I have determined that it is best for us if I spend time with my kiddos doing other things (even cleaning) together rather than cooking. Having them try to help in the kitchen makes me insane. I don't mind them watching, asking questions, putting things back in the fridge, etc. but actually measuring, stirring, and so on? No way.

Sometimes when my husband has the younger two occupied I allow my oldest (7) to help me. Other than that our time is better spent doing other things together and letting me just get the food on the table. It may not be the best way, but it is what works for us at this stage in our lives.

Hestermania! said...

i am so glad you posted this. i feel like this kind of mom a lot (my two are 25 months and 8 months) - impatient, getting louder as the day gets longer - and wondered why you always seemed able to get so much accomplished in a day without ever getting frustrated with your kids or having them act up. glad to see you also have days like me ;)

patty w said...

{{{{HUGS}}}

Don't be so hard on yourself. They are a bit young for some parts of cooking/baking. Let them "help" by getting the ingredients ready and handing them to you etc. Then , maybe you could let them observe the trickier parts as in a lesson for them.

Or whatever works for you.. you have to decide what is best for you and them. If you're stressed out about it, then it may not be the best thing.

You are a wonderful Mother (wish you were mine!) (but then I'm probably old enought to be your grandmother!)

~Babychaser~ said...

Thank you for sharing this! I only have one little of "helping" age. My baby was born last spring too. Working on projects with my 2 year old frustrate me like you were describing almost every time. Deep down I know that if I would just spend the time calmly teaching him the right way, it would go better (maybe not next time, but some day). I've been feeling like a failure in much the same areas as you. I am an impatient mother... ultimately an impatient person!

Help Lord!

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

I have those days with my children too!

Did I mention that Valentine's cheesecake last year or so that was CRUNCHY from the egg shells Andrew dropped in the batter?

It.does.get.easier.

Andrew can get all the ingredients one by one from the fridge and pantry now, a big help.

With anything expensive or important, I do the baking part and let them handle the icing/decorating. Still a mess, but with much less consequence for error.

Hang in there!

Christy said...

Ugh. I don't like the messiness in the kitchen either and easily start feeling out of control. And then I don't enjoy my littles and end up losing my cool, which I regret.

Mine are a little older now -- almost 6 and 4. I can encourage you that although the stage you are in *is* messy and out of control, it gets better. Keep letting them practice, but consider some of the great suggestions others have mentioned. These are a few that have helped us in the kitchen:

- a little *less* group baking initially

- rotate helpers: one is helping with the dry ingredients and the other is putting away the silverware (or even better, entertaining the baby) then switch helpers for the wet ingredients

- put one on either side of you and let them take turns holding and pouring out the measuring spoon while you pour the ingredients into the spoon

- as you work, go slowly and throw in little tidbits now and then (not all at once & not for every single baking session) ... how brown sugar needs to be packed, that the "/" between numbers makes it a fraction, compare how a tsp is smaller than a Tbsp, count how many spoonfuls we are pouring in.

- Limit how they are helping to specific steps (holding and pouring out the spoons), then when they reach a level where they are handling it well, give them one more step to do (breaking one egg each). Keep the baking/mixing at that level until they've mastered it. Then move up to the next level.

I find my kids master a skill better when we work at it that way, plus they get one-on-one with mommy instead of me going crazy trying to manage several things at one time. Some people are great at that, but I function much better with simplicity.

We all have days like you had today, Monica!! You are not alone, friend! It's a journey. (((Hugs!))) (BTW, I tend to feel that way more at key times each month. - grin)

Erica in Los Angeles said...

Oh honey you're doing just fine. If you didn't feel a little overwhelmed now & again you just wouldn't be human!

I have a 7 & 5 yr old and the third is due in August. I have baked with my kids for a while now and it helps to separate them at different "stations". I have one mix the dry ingredients while the other cracks eggs etc. They fussed at first, always wanted to be doing what the other one was but I let them know if they didn't like it they were welcome to leave the kitchen. They stopped whining pretty quickly.

If it makes you feel better imagine this scenario - oldest is 4, we're making homemade granola bars and the kitchen aid is full of oats, raisins, mini chocolate chips etc. But no liquid ingredients. 4y old decides to turn the mixer on herself since she's such a big girl. My back is turned & she turns it on to 10. It was like the sky opened up and rained oats in my kitchen. It was a laugh or you'll burst into tears moment. Thank goodness she has her own dustpan!

hang in there - not everyday will be a Rockwell picture moment. But each day can teach us something.

ScrappinAway said...

I know what you mean! My little is 19 months and sometimes when I just want to try and get something done in a hurry she wants to help and I feel bad for not letting her. I think that as long as you ALL are enjoying the activity you should do it. If not, then I think shelve it for a couple months and then try again!

...they call me mommy... said...

Thanks for being honest. My kiddos LOVE to bake with me! Being that they are 5 & 4 and I have the 18 month old, I have come to realize that I have to be in a certain mood (not tired and certainly not rushed) before it works. A lot of times, they take turns helping me or just do one part of the baking with me like decorating...a lot of times I don't do the baking until the 18 mo old is down for a nap also...
Boy, do I understand! I think you are on the right track...if it is something that just causes stress, don't do it! They will be fine and you have time to teach them! God bless you, Monica and hugs from a mom who has BEEN THERE many a time!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

You've already received so much good advice and wisdom, all I'll give is ((((hugs)))). God is faithful, and this is your refiner's fire!

Catherine said...

Monica, just to cheer you up, here's a really cute carrot idea that I literally just found on my friend's blog after reading your post!
http://niceears.blogspot.com/2009_02_10_archive.html#1772558338250536708

And regarding the cooking, my kids are the same age as yours roughly, and I have had many similar experiences. Well, just as carrots have their seasons, life with kids has its seasons too. One day you'll be able to send them in to do the carrot cakes all by themselves! :)

Dawn said...

everything your mom said. read her comments over and over to yourself...really process them. she is sooo right. with as many littles as I've got, trust me on this! :) dawn m.

Jodi said...

Hello,

I just came across your blog and I love all of the crafty things that you have done.

I agree with all the other ladies. I don't remember if I read how old your girls are, but remember the most important thing is that you are making memories with your girls and spending time with them. Also remember that it does take practice! Try to do it at a time when you really feel up to the task of having them help and you know you will have more patience with them.

Maybe next time try to bake with them when the baby is napping or when your husband is home so he can watch Sam.

I have a Sam too and he turned 2 years in November. He has a sister, Emma who turned one in November as well. She was a complete surprise as we got pregnant with her when Sam was 6 months old and surprised us again when she made her entrance in this world 3 months early. She spent nearly 6 months in the NICU and was terribly sick for a while, but you would never know it now.

I have Sam help me bake once in a while. I measure out the ingredients and have him help me pour it in the mixing bowl. He loves to watch the mixer and food processor go and even does sound effects! I don't have him help me put the batter in the pans or the cookie dough on the sheets, but just to give him some exposure so he gets an interest in it for when he is old enough to really start helping.

Emma is still to little to help in the kitchen, but I look forward to the day when I can have her by my side helping me too.


Take care and God Bless, I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Jodi

Davonne said...

If baking with your girls stresses you out, skip it! You can reintroduce this activity when they are older.

Maybe for now, you could have them help with the necessary foods - they could help prepare dinner side dishes, so they can have the kitchen experience without you being stressed about making unneeded food. Maybe they could even take turns - one girl can set the table while one helps cook, then they switch the next night.

If cooking meals with them is also too stressful for you, then allow them to do quiet activities close to you while you cook.

Nobody can do everything, so try not to stress about it if you can't cook with them right now! You do plenty of other things with the girls, so they are definitely not neglected or missing out.

The fact that you apologized to your girls says a lot about you. Keep up the great work!

Rachael in NZ said...

Oh Monica, I'm not pretending to be old and wise, but after years of the sorts of episodes you are describing, I decided to have my girls help me in the kitchen one at a time. Now the older two are 10 & 9 and have several favourite recipes they love to bake. They can now manage it from start to finish on their own, including the putting in & taking out of the oven. We now just need to refine the cleaning up of the kitchen afterwards! I thought this day would never come, but it has, and sooner than I thought it would!
Wishing you patience with your trainee bakers...it will come :-)

Katy said...

Wow...you have gotten ALOT of comments on this post!

With all the other thoughts you have been given..I won't bog you down with more...except remember to just keep praying and that through our weaknesses...God is strong. It's OK to have weaknesses! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Dear precious woman. You are so good to share with us so honestly. So many of us feel overwhelmed at times, you are NOT alone. You do such wonderful things as Mom, please becareful not to be to hard on yourself. Maybe do a little cooking with the ladies while Samuel naps. Or simply put it off till Daddy is home and then they can help one at the time. Or wait altogether. They will not be harmed in waiting longer to bake. Do NOT think you are not doing well. Believe no lies. Think rightly, pray ,and know we all struggle. YOU DO AN EXCELLENT JOB. If i were close by i would come over with tea (or coffee!) and cookies and big hugs, because i am so thankful for you dear sister in Jesus!tammyp

Grace said...

Hi Friend! I don't have any advice as I am there with you, but with just one old enough to be helper. Hugs Mama!

Heather said...

Monica, we all have days like this! Thank heavens God sees us through Christ and not how we are in ourselves. I loved how you said maybe you need to be baked in God's love for a while.

Is cooking with the kids maybe something you could do when your mother's helper comes? Or the girls could take turns spending a few minutes doing it with you? We have the same experience when I cook with my 3 and 1-year-old girls. It can be chaos! And definitely harder than doing it yourself.

I appreciate you sharing from your heart with us about this. I hope things get better. :)

Michelle said...

Oh Monica! This week especially, when everyone in my home is in varying degrees of recovery from the flu, I especially appreciate your Keeping it Real post. I'm really struggling this week with keeping laundry washed and not yelling at everyone... sickness can really bring out the worst in any family, I think!

About baking/cooking: To be honest, I do think that baking with a two and a four year old is inviting disaster into your kitchen... I've found that age 5 seems to be the perfect age to start baking and doing much more than setting the table. I've also found that cooking with just one child at a time is much easier on me, the child, and the kitchen floor/counter/walls. Is there a time that you could make pancakes or something with just one of hte girls while your husband entertains the other two children? Even if you did this only once or twice per month with each child until they were bigger, it would be creating pleasant memories.

Hang in there! Remember that everything is only for a season. This season, you have two preschoolers and a baby... you do waht you can and save the rest for another time. :)

Lisa said...

Bless your heart! I do understand where you are coming from. It is so much easier to do it yourself most times. I would definitely revist baking with them when they are older, especially with another one crawling around. When mine were that age I measured out ingriedients and let them pour it into the mixing bowl, that seemed to work best for both of us. Now my 9 year old is wanting to do more and she can, but messes are still an issue that I have to learn to let go. I keep thinking I could do it, not have a big mess and be done. What I have learned is that it is not helping her for me to do it. She will one day need to know this herself and she is old enough to clean the mess up too. What she needs is my patience. As littles though just relax and revist letting them cook when they are older, unless it is just to "help" you by adding premeasured ingredients. I hope today is better for you and the ladies!

Anonymous said...

Since you like to cook/bake with your littles, maybe there is a young teen homeschooled girl that could come for a few hours one afternoon a week to watch Samuel while you and the girls cook and bake. The girl would get some valuable babysitting experience (even if she just holds him while the two of them watch you) and you could give your full attention to the girls. I wouldn't feel that you would need to pay her, as she is gaining the babysitting experience; however, you could give her some of your cooked/baked products if you'd like.

Thank you for your blog. I learn so much from it! Anna

Melissa said...

I have so been there as I'm sure all the other mothers who have commented to this post! I know if doesn't make it okay when we feel like that, but just wanted you to know I feel for you and am joining you in being refined right now!

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

Just think how much easier everything will be when Samuel is Emily's age.
It probably isn't the season to be making scratch carrot cake from start to finish with them. I'd start with just helping me sprinkle the top with nuts or something.
I only have two and I feel like that a lot. Don't be so hard on yourself. I think you're doing a wonderful job.

Amy said...

You know I love you, sweetie! I think you are awfully hard on yourself and I know you are the best mom you can possibly be. Have patience with yourself and it is okay to have bad days. I have those days on occasion too. I admire your bravery to put three littles in the kitchen at the same time. I admire your honesty and I know your kids will remember how fun you are ((Hugs))

angie said...

Remember the words "moderation and balance" from your post today? I think you hit on the key to incoporating littles into chores. Maybe it is not practical to include them in all of the things on the to-do list for each day, but perhaps one chore each day. Or I liked the idea that others suggested to have the girls take turns being your kitchen helper.

Debi said...

I so appreciate your 'realness'! You're a great Mom!:) My boys are now 14 and 11, and I have been where you are - except I only had two children, and quite honestly -- that still seemed like a LOT when they're little! :)

I just want to encourage you to keep things simple and enjoyable. Honestly, I think they're too little. Maybe you could have a certain day that a child gets to be "mommy's helper" for supper or whatever, but honestly I'd try to involve them in other ways. For example - you make the cake yourself, but let them be involved in putting the frosting on and maybe some fun 'sprinkles' or something. They'll still be 'cooking' with you, but enjoying the 'fun' part, rather than the 'tedious' detailed part. This is what I learned with my boys. Rather than having them help me actually make the sugar cookies, I'd make them and let them help me frost them. It was much more enjoyable and less stressful. :)

Hope that helps! Have an awesome rest of your day!

Debi

Elise said...

If mom's not happy, noone is. I have heard that term over and over never really understanding what it meant. I read recently that our attitude and tone help to set the household's attitudes. Keeping that in mind, if we know something doesn't gel with us in the season we are in, then simply take a break from it. It is not worth a mean mommy. I am learning that I have to go to bed earlier in order to be a better mom and also to stay out of the stores. That almost always makes our days go smoother.
I don't know if that helped much, because I know we want to raise responsible children that enjoy similar things we do, but it may not be that time.
Elise

Anonymous said...

By the time you read my comment you will be on to a new mercy-filled day, trying all over again in your sweet special way. I love your blog and I love your truth. You are being refined to perfection and soon when we look in the mirror and see His face on that day... The Day the Lord returns. It will be because you tried to bake, you try to do so many different things daily. You try, you Love, b/c you give of your self, you give all your strength to the point of brokenness all in the name of God's Love. I trust God in our brokenness we are being made whole in Christ. Bless you on your daily journey in life with the Lord as the mother of three and wife that is praised and trusted by her hubby. Smiles, Angelia in Tx

Crystal said...

You mean that I am not the ONLY one to feel impatient with my children? I only have one child, and I have many days where I feel drained and on edge. Things are getting better, but I was (sad to say) not perfectly prepared for motherhood after my son was born. Your honesty is wonderful and refreshing! You are a GREAT mother - do not feel bad! :)

Tiffany said...

I just started reading your blog. How old are your girls? We are starting BFIAR with my son. The books just got here but he is getting over an ear infection so we will start next week. He is starting kindergarten in September and I was looking at using FIAR for that so I wanted to try it out with BFIAR first. Anyway, I am glad to get to read a little about someone who is already doing it. :)

ChefLeisa said...

Hey Monica!
If a single person posts here that they have never felt like they could be a better mother than they already are, I will eat my keyboard! I think it's a natural part of being a GOOD mom to think we are NOT doing a good job. It keeps us in check and balanced. Just don't let it overwhelm you!
And, my boys are 5 & 7 years old and I still do all the measuring, supervise them dumping the ingredients in a bowl, and they take turns stirring. That's the extent of their helping in the kitchen at this point. I too get frustrated easily as ingredients are spilled and the kitchen is destroyed!

Zebu said...

Oh Monica,

You echo the experience of every mother in the world. And, let me tell you that it is no different being a gramma. It is VERY trying to raise and teach children no matter how much effort and patience we attempt to put into it. We are only human beings after all. Maybe you are right, and staying out of the kitchen for now is best. Maybe small things in the kitchen will work, i.e. putting food coloring in the water and letting them do the dishes. Whatever you decide, your little people will remember what a wonderful mommy you were—faults and all—due to the great effort you put into your job as a mother. They can tell. And, mostly importantly, the way that you are raising them up to love and live for the Lord will be so very evident to them and will bless generations to come.

Blessings to you, Monica. You are an awesome person, and I KNOW that you are an awesome mommy just as your Heavenly Father knows the same. :)

Anonymous said...

Your girls, especially Rachel, are awfully young for some of these expectations.
It is wonderful that you want to share these experiences, and teach them, but they are still toddlers, and their attention spans are very short at this age.

Stephanie said...

Hello Monica, I love reading your blog...it is like a breath of fresh air as I live in Chile as a missionary wife and a mom to three beautiful children ages 13,10,&9. I am originally from TN and we have only been in Chile for 8 months. I know how taxing it can be on you at times raising children. I have had those same feelings many times. I am a very picky about how I want things done and sometimes I felt that it was easier and quicker for me to just do things rather than teach my children how. The Lord showed me that I needed to let them do things to the best of thier ability and not mine because they are not little adults they are children. As far as cooking goes, the Lord gave me direction in having a "helper schedule" that rotated each day or week, as they got older. Sometimes for special things one helped with adding ingred. & the other would mix. Just don't let the devil defeat you by making you think you are a failure...I still struggle with this myself at times because our minds are a battlefield.Remeber each day is a gift from the Lord. "...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," Philip. 3:13. I know you are a great mom!! Keep up the good work and encourage yourself in the Lord. Psalms is a great place for that. THink of David...God called him a man after His own heart yet look at all the mistakes he made. God loves you and will guide you through this. In CHrist, Stephanie