“Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori and characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development.”
Some Of my earliest childhood memories were inside of a Montessori school. I suppose it makes sense since my mother has owned and operated one since before I was born, but mostly because of the teaching techniques, philosophy, and experiences the Montessori method embraces and gives its students. Unlike many traditional schools, Montessori children are taught to be independent, to use their imaginations, solve problems by thinking outside the box, and to respect those around them.
The beauty of a Montessori education is that you are taught based on ability. In other words if a child is good at math he/she may learn at a higher level (I use level for lack of a better word), and the opposite is true. The student who may excel in math may struggle with English. Ultimately, the end result is confidence. I attribute any success I have had up to this point in my life from knowing very well what I am good at and what I am not, and having the confidence to admit where I can improve. That, and I almost ignorantly, think big (another characteristic I probably picked up at Montessori).
The Montessori mentality has taught me a lot about working and running kitchens. Great chefs, at least the ones I aspire to be like, are the ones that empower their staff. They develop team members that can solve problems on their own without needing constant assistance. They create an environment where everyone contributes to the success of the team by giving the staff the freedom within the limits of the hierarchy, and a voice to share their strengths. These chefs and restauranteurs learn from everyone around and continue to learn and look at things through multiple lenses. Great chefs teach cooks how to taste, feel, smell and use their senses and surroundings in cooking as opposed to just following a set recipe. All things I would compare to a Montessori education.
Montessori can teach us all about life both personal and professional. Thats why when my mom asks me to come back to visit or to teach a class I’m happy to do so. Also working with kids, as difficult as it can be, is extremely refreshing. My favorite part of the bread class was the excitement on the little girl’s face when the bread was placed on the table. Her expression and reaction I would compare to arriving at Disney for the first time. Its nice to see that humble cooking can have such an impact on someone. Funny that even when I return to my Montessori roots I can still learn even something….even if it is only a reminder to be more “child like” in the kitchen!
We have all heard of the term “Domestic Goddesses” (and rightfully so). These amazing women study Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, and Giada De Laurentis like it’s a religion. Their homes are organized, decorated, smell nice, and there always seems to be a something in the oven. They can sew, facilitate bake sales, and make it to every soccer game there is. Keep all the children (and Husband) on a routine. While daddy is off at work and the kids are at school or doing a laundry list of other extra curricular activities, these super moms do arts and crafts, and go ape shit posting there ideas and recipes on Pintrist. Did I mention they also find time to squeeze yoga and grocery shopping into the schedule? Yes Domestic Goddesses are impressive beings.
However, not all women share the same desire to stay home and run the household, or be given the sole responsibility (nor should they). In may cases women are out making far more money than their spouses or partners could ever make. Also, because of the economic climate of today, households need 2 incomes leaving the primary caregiving to be divvied up. Sometimes wives have to enter the work force because their husbands have become disabled or laid off.
In recent years we have seen the number of stay at home dads and/or shared caregiving triple in the US, Canada, and the UK. Some men, but not all, seem to struggle with this because, quite frankly, they weren’t giving the tools to do so when growing up. Little boys aren’t taught how to run a household, bake, or do all the things mom did. In addition to the lack of home skills, most men are uncomfortable with the perception of being less “manly” in the role of primary care giver. It goes without saying that in our world numerous social stigmas exist, but that shouldn’t keep us from the imminent evolution of the family household.
Luckily because of my job I got the cooking, organizing and cleaning down. I just struggle with the ponytails, (a skill I have vowed to master in 2014) and hope I never have to go bra shopping. The important thing is that I help my wife and don’t leave all the domestic duties up to her. That’s what a modern family does or should do (in my opinion). Share the responsibilities and ignore the 1950’s preconceived notion of what it means to be a family, man, father, woman, or whatever for that matter.
This doesn’t just go for guys with families. In a recent poll done by a very popular men’s magazine, which asked women what they found sexy in a man, listed the ability to cook as one of the top attributes. Divorce, same sex marriage, and loss of a spouse can all be reasons why men would need to become more domestic.
So guys, put down the hammer and remote and get your ass and into the kitchen. It’s time you branch out and do a little more than mow the lawn, hang shit and dick around in the garage (which you still should do). By becoming more domesticated your family will think you’re just as manly, and your spouse/partner will more than likely find it sexy. Your children will grow up in a house seeing their parents working as a team and their father being nurturing.
I can’t fix a fucking thing to save my life (other than the basic bike chains, cabinet doors, etc), but I can cook my ass off, and I can always call someone to fix the kitchen sink. Trust me when I tell you I have no insecurities about my “manliness”. Its time you become a “Domestic God” and debunk the gender role stereotypes.
As a father of three, I understand how difficult it can be to try to put dinner together in a timely and organized manner. While one child is asking “how long” or “can I help with the chopping”, another may be crying at your feet (literally), and one is playing with the knives in the drawer and chemicals under the sink. This is a no exaggeration account of my experience most of the time attempting to get dinner ready. It can be more stressful than a Saturday Night’s service on the grill. Its enough to make me want every night to be “pizza night”. In my professional life I work in the brightest, shiniest, and best equipped kitchens with other professionals (and the occasional shit heads). At home I don’t have the same space or resources. One kid doesn’t like rice, one can’t have gluten, and one won’t eat anything. My doctor gives me all these dietary guidelines for my children as well as a list of “allergies”. All these things lead to frustration, and are never what we expect when we see those beautiful “Family Cookbooks”, you know the ones with pictures of the mom and dad making killer pastries, the children shelling beans like classically trained line cooks, and everyone is laughing. However, I realize that my kids are only gathering into the kitchen because, like all kids, they are curious and want to get involved. So I make it a point, when given the time, to get the whole gang in the mix. Worse case if its a disaster I can always order a pizza. So here are 5 reasons why you should be cooking with your kids:
1.) Cooking and preparing their own food will make them less picky. If they make it there is a greater chance they will WANT to try it
2.) Cooking gives them confidence. There are a million things to be learned in a kitchen. With each new lesson learned a victory is had.
3.) Cooking will give them independence. Cooking is a essential skill everyone needs in life (at least in my opinion) so start teaching them when there are young. By the time they are teenagers they know that food doesn’t just magically appear on the table!
4.) Cooking is a multi-sensoral learning experience. Working through recipes gives kids a real world application of math and science. They can get the right brain involved by tweaking and creating recipes.
5.) Cooking brings you together. BY far the most important reason you should be cooking with your kids is because its 45 more minutes you will never have back that you could have created a life long memory with.
Remember you don’t have to cook every meal together (that would be madness). I know how important alone time with a bottle of wine in the kitchen is. But listen, try it once a month then once a week. You’ll be glad you did. Maybe one day you can scream from the “couch how long for dinner?!?!?”