Inside or Out, Children Want to Help

As a child, the highlight of making the 45-minute trip to visit my paternal grandmother in Howard County, Iowa, was a chance to drive around the beautiful countryside and watch the Amish tend to their livestock and care for their crops.  I was intrigued by their commitment to family and their sense of duty.

Each member of the family plays a part in the family’s economic survival, says Dr. John Hostetler in his book, Amish Society.  He writes:

“Like most parents in American society, the Amish recognize the teen period as critical. The Amish family needs the help of its teen-age child more than the typical American family, and the child feels the family’s need of him. The young person who works on the farm can understand and feel the contribution he is making to his family.”

On a farm, your work directly affects you and your family. You are a member of this company (the family), and you have your job responsibilities. In simple terms, the cows have to be fed and milked so that food and shelter can be provided for the family. Your paycheck comes daily in the form of food, clothing, shelter and affection.

Children see their parents working hard every day and children want to help… I once saw a four-year-old Amish boy cry when he could not go along and help father in the field.

Amish children are needed to help inside the house, too.  When a family has eight or nine children, there is a lot of food to be prepared.  It’s no wonder that Amish women often get together for a frolic, or a work event that combines socializing with a practical goal.  Common frolics include quilting, canning, pie baking and apple sauce making.

Like the Amish, we can get a group of girlfriends together.  A simple frolic can help us make multiple meals in short order while enjoying some “girl time.”  That’s essentially what I did in September by hosting “Cook Once for a Bunch.”  You could do something similar in your home, community center or even in your church’s kitchen – with friends or even your family.

Many recipes are simple enough for young children to make.  Start by putting a new twist on Tator Tot Casserole from Freezer Chics, which one of my friends made when we got together in September.  During this same get together, I picked up my new “go to” recipe for lasagna.  I like this lasagna so much that I’m going to take it Sunday for our community’s annual Boy Scout Thanksgiving potluck.  With browned hamburger in my freezer, prep time will be 15 minutes or less!  That means I’ll have time to cut up veggies for this adorable Turkey Relish Tray, as well as organize this “notable” Turkey Craft.

Thanksgiving reminds me that I’m so thankful for family, friendships, food and freedom.  (Notice that “football” doesn’t top my list.)  I’m hopeful that I might enjoy a little quiet time right after dinner on Thanksgiving Day.  Perhaps I’ll get a chance to curl up with a novel by one of my favorite Amish authors, Wanda Brunstetter or Beverly Lewis. Reading will remind me how much I really need some girl time.  That will make me think about a frolic, which will prompt me to email my friends about a date to “Cook Once for a Bunch.”  Yes, my wheels are already turning!

Go-To Lasagna



  • 1 lb. hamburger, browned & drained
  • 1, 24-oz. jar spaghetti sauce (Traditional Prego® is our family’s favorite)
  • 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. water
  • Oven-ready lasagna noodles



  1. Mix hamburger with spaghetti sauce and heat.
  2. In a 9×13 pan, layer: dry noodles, meat mixture, cottage cheese and mozzarella.
  3. Repeat layers three times.
  4. Then pour the water around the edges.
  5. Cover pan with tin foil.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven and let set 10 minutes.


Assemble the night before for a quick and easy weeknight supper. This recipe also freezes well.


Photo Source: Disney Family