As a mother of two living in Asia, I often come across people, or overhear discussions, about how fortunate we are to have all the help that we do, and I’m the first person to fully agree! People say things like: “I have no idea how my friends at home do it” or “Imagine doing this without a helper”. Personally, I don’t think that the majority of our friends and family that live outside of Asia have superpowers (or maybe they do, and they just ship us ordinary humans abroad??)
I think the main difference is that they have no choice but to involve their kids in everyday chores, simply in order to make things work. And is that really such a bad thing? Let’s face it, how often do we take our kids to the supermarket or let them help out with stuff around the house? In my case, certainly not that often. This sometimes makes me think about what my days would look like if I didn’t have a choice.
So I decided to introduce the concept of Mama’s Little Helpers a few times a week. Basically what it means, is that I take the boys with me, and do something super-normal (as in, boring!) like shopping, recycling or have them help out with some cleaning around the house. Don’t get me wrong, I am not doing this in an attempt to make my kids more down to earth or appreciate how fortunate they are. Those kinds of values take more than a few trips to Park ‘n Shop to instill.
It’s purely for entertainment reasons. Because if you can take the stress and shouting out of shopping for instance – which isn’t an easy feat – then your kids will think it’s fun. The purpose of this idea is to get you away from the soft playrooms and be able to combine your errands with something the kids enjoy. They don’t know that going to the supermarket, checking out the dairy section and using the self-service checkout is less fun than the playground. (They might suspect it, but if you don’t tell, then I won’t either!)
Here is an example of what Mama’s Little Helpers have been up to recently. My actual (grown up, paid) helper likes baking – I’m not even going to pretend it’s me. So when she needed a few baking things from the store, I decided this was a perfect mission for my Little Helpers. We took the bus there – there are two routes, and we opted for the long one. You can’t beat public transport when it comes to entertaining kids! Once there, we spent about half an hour in the store looking at different kinds of cake decorations, putting things in our basket (of which a lot had to be taken out again before payment!) and “re-arranging” the products on the shelves.
Satisfied with our baking goods, we went to Starbucks for coffee and Babycinos (a frappuccino for kids, which contains no coffee). Because as we all know, a kid’s favourite part of any expedition – no matter if you’ve paid a $200 entry fee to an amusement park or hiked The Dragon’s Back sweating and swearing for hours – will be the treat at the end. This can be annoying, but in reality it means that whatever you choose to do with your kids, as long as you end it with a treat of some sort, you can mentally categorise it as an outing that your kids enjoyed. So, there you go, being a “super mama” is not that hard at all!