UNITED STATES—Think about the word ‘responsibility’ for a moment. What does it actually mean to be responsible? I mean we all have our definition, but at its core, to be responsible means to take care of business. Now ask yourself what would you do, if you were tasked of being held responsible for taming a wild bunch of kids? Yes, so many people think it’s easy to tackle the task of ensuring those kids are properly watched, fed, entertained and protected from harm is no easy task.

I’ve had the luxury of watching many babies grow to full-blown adults. I mean when you have 5 nieces and 2 nephews, you become used to watching kids; well at least I’ve done it more than I can imagine. In some situations, I have literally cared for my nephew since he was born till the tender age of 9; the same applies for my niece who is on the cusp of turning 4.

When these two get together, chaos emerges. They have a ton of energy that is almost impossible to contain at times. What I’ve learned is that television is something that keeps all kids occupied. The slight problem, these two don’t like the same TV shows so finding a balance is not easy. The solution, one can watch TV in one room, while the other watches something else in the other room. But, I’m not a proponent of allowing kids to sit around and watch TV all day long. A sedentary body is no easy task, especially with technology nowadays. I mean all kids want to do is surf the internet and watch things on YouTube.

I don’t mind allowing them an hour at most to entertain on the Internet, but I do indeed observe what they’re watching to ensure they’re not venturing to any sites or places they shouldn’t be. But yet again, I hate to allow kids to just sit and do nothing. So enter Plan B: teaching about the importance of money and how to cook.

Yes, it’s not easy to allow a 3 year-old in the kitchen, but my niece can sure bake. I allowed her the opportunity to cook up some brownies that were quite tasty. She cracked eggs, poured water, butter, and took care of incorporating the brownie mix. Lesson to be known: when you tell a kid that they’re making something, they literally want to do it all from start to finish without much help. I supervised, while she completed the entire task. The fun part: after the brownies hit the oven, she got the opportunity to lick all the remaining brownie batter mix from the bowl. I thought it was ok, until I saw her fingers and face afterwards. It was a complete mess, but in all fun.

So yes people, kids really do love being in the kitchen, so anytime you can get them into the kitchen and help teach them the importance of things like baking, and essential ingredients, the more informed they become. If you teach one how to cook at an early age, it becomes a domino effect as they get older. I mean it’s already a shame so many people who are adults have no idea of how to ‘cook’ and select to eat out then prepare a meal at home.

Another task I indulge in for my nieces and nephews is teaching them the importance of money. So many kids seriously think money grows on trees, so the best way for them to understand that is to ‘show’ them what it takes to earn a buck. Yes, if my nieces and nephews want toys at times, I let them earn the money to purchase the item. How so? Through cleaning, why you ask! I let them clean the glass, dust, sort clothing, sweep, organize. When it comes to dealing with harsh chemicals, I reserve that duty for myself. Safety is always a top priority for me.

They might not appreciate doing the cleaning, but when they are paid they are overjoyed. For example, my niece has a tendency of asking everyone for $1. By the end of the day, she has earned 10 bucks, and she is slowly, but surely learning the importance of saving and NOT always having to buy something.

When it comes to dealing with kids, the most important thing to realize is that they don’t like to be idle. They have to be entertained, but more important you have to be aware that if you keep them occupied they’ll be very easy to tame.