As you head into the weekend, I hope this post inspires to cook something with your child or hand over the cleaning to your partner. It is all about the meaning behind the apron and how as women of 2014, we can take it back and be proud.
5 1/2 ways I’m taking back the Apron!
Lately, I’ve been having this tango with my apron. Every time I put on said apron to bake, cook dinner or clean up the kitchen, I have this dance with myself: “Here I go, playing the role of ‘barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen’.” Then my mind shifts to “Wow, I really love cooking and baking with my son.” So, what is happening? When did I start to feel so conflicted about putting on an apron? Was it when I stopped working to stay home with my twin girls? It is hard to admit this – but yes, it was. While I was working, I would put on my apron on the weekends and have a blast making Bisquick apple bake with my 3 year old son or pulling together my awesome BBQ pulled pork. Then something happened. Because I was not “working and making money of my own”, I started to struggle when I put on my apron.
I want to change this. So, I’m taking back the apron and guys and girls, I need your help. Here are 5 1/2 ways we can do this.
#1) Share the apron. It is pretty simple. If you cooked, pass the apron on when it comes to cleaning. If your partner made you dinner, when you are done take both of your plates to the sink. Even better, slip on the apron and load that dishwasher. You might be surprised how much more loving you will receive. When I think of my guy in an apron doing the dishes, I suddenly don’t feel that tired after all.
If you have kids, start teaching them about taking their non-breakable plate to the sink. I am working on this with our son. Sometimes it simply takes us letting go, we all have ways we like to do things, but a clean plate is a clean plate. Take back the apron and pass the apron along.
#2) Keep talking about gender roles, how you were raised, and if your mother wore an apron. Often times, how we were raised tends to be what we know. I was raised in the US. My husband was raised in Germany. My mom liked her job and wanted to work and continued to work full time. Together with my Dad’s help, she would cook dinner while my sister and I sat at the kitchen bar doing our homework. After dinner my dad would entertain us while she did the dishes. My mom had no problem taking care of cooking and cleaning, and did not wear anÂ apron. My husband grew up in Germany. His mother stayed home to raise him and his brother and then returned to work part-time. She cooked dinner every night and wore an apron.
So when I met my husband and we moved in together, I naturally found myself in the kitchen cooking our meals together. It was what I knew and what he knew too. I don’t think we really thought about it until I decided to stay home with our twin girls and could have dinner ready when he gets home. Then I realized I needed to check in with him to see if we had different expectations when it came to who cooks, who takes care of the children and who cleans. I’m glad I did. For me, having twins and a toddler, along with a job change for my husband created a period of time where I am a stay at home mom, a role I never imagined for myself. I needed to let my husband know that just because I am home, it does not mean all house work falls on me. We are still a team.
Your past experiences are important but are only part of who we are. You and your partner can design your relationship and the roles each person plays. However, change happens. Jobs come and go. Children join the picture. There might be a period of time when you start to play a different role then you are used to. The key to making this all work is to keep talking about your feelings and where they might be coming from. Keep checking in about what life was like before a major change in roles happen and what life is like now. Then create a plan of who will take care of what. My husband and I tag team. One person cleans the dishes while the other person gives our son a bath.
It’s also important to realize that some people love cooking and some people cook because they are hungry. Some women do the cooking and some men do the cooking. Cooking is not meant to keep you down but to lift you up. In the end, make it fun, ask for help, and right before you dig in to eat, take a moment to give thanks for the meal and especially the time together.
#3) Buy a new apron after you have finished your Mint.com budget together. Before I decided to take a year off, my husband and I hardly ever fought about money. We each had our certain amount that we could spend how we pleased, and we shared the expenses. Then our life changed dramatically with the arrival of twins and the decision to buy our first home. Fast forward and we are down to one income with three kids.
However, I must share about the “not making money” part and how it has taken me a long time to see my partner’s income is now shared between us. I realize now that I’m someone who puts value in being able to make her own money. Even if I don’t have to work, there is still this need to be able to take care of myself. I need to feel I can go out and buy a new apron and not have to ask permission. It could be because I’ve lived by myself before marriage and had children later on in life. Perhaps, it is because I went to high school and college in the 90’s, a decade that was all about women empowerment.
The idea to stop working and take care of the kids was a huge decision and my husband and I still have deep conversations about it. We’ve both cut back on take out and our communication about money has improved drastically thanks to Mint.com! Even if you and your partner both work, find some time to sit down together and decide what your family budget is going to be. Then, when you feel like you need an apron, you will feel better about buying one and will be able to answer the question “Can we afford this?” in a snap.
#4) Let the teacher in you come out. I’m amazed how much you can learn in the kitchen and how much your kitchen can turn into a classroom for your family and for yourself. Think about it. The measuring cup. When was the last time you worked on your “fractions” Example: 1/4 + 1/2=.. or How many cups are in a pound? There are plenty of homework nights coming where your child is going to be learning fractions. Why not get ahead. Need some practice? Start with recipes. I forgot how good it feels when you try something new.
Get an apron for your little helper. Children want to help. Repeating the steps as you go, helps keep them involved and practices directions and orders. For example, First, we pour the milk. Second, we crack the eggs and put them in the bowl. Third, we mix them together. Last, Mom cooks the eggs! Remember, teaching skills and having fun is the best way to learn!
#5) The apron can be your “cooking” wear. Think about it. You’ve got your gym clothes, why not have your kitchen wear? Let the kitchen be another place you go to either relax, learn, whatever you need it to be. You’ve got to eat right? What about after a stressful day, you turn on your favorite radio station or iTunes mix, throw on your apron, let go and cook. You can include your child by asking them to pour the pasta in the measuring cup. Or you can turn on Sprout, let them veg out while you remember to include vegetables in their meal. 30 minutes of T.V. is not going to hurt their growth. I wish I had Sprout when I was my son’s age.
And #5 1/2) You get to decide what the apron means to you. In the article “Kitchen Aprons: A Symbol of Repression or Pride?” by Rene Lynch, posted in Jan 2011 in the Illinois State Journal-Register, she quotes Cynthia Wadell of Orange, Calif., founder of www.heavenlyhostess.com, a line dedicated to upscale aprons and kitchen linens. Cynthia sums it up best. “We don’t have to live by anyone else’s definition of what it means to be a woman, or a mother or a wife. That time is over. You get to decide what that apron means. It’s your choice. You can read more from Lynch’s article at: http://www.sj-r.com/
I bet you never thought there could be so much behind a kitchen apron. Now make me proud and take back the apron!