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Why Anna Farris wants her son to be a good cook might inspire you, mama

Anna Faris is one successful mama. She's been in a ton of movies, is currently starring in the CBS sitcom Mom, wrote a hilarious memoir, and hosts a podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, that is heard by millions.

With this kind of success comes a certain level of privilege, not just for Faris, but also her son, 6-year-old Jack.

Let's be real: Anna Faris doesn't have to cook or clean, and that means neither does her son (at least at this point in his life). But she is making sure that he knows his way around the kitchen and the laundry room because, to her, instilling those life skills is a measure of parenting success, something her own mom taught her.

"I grew up without a nanny or somebody to come over and change my sheets or whatever. It's really important to me that he becomes self-sufficient," she tells Motherly.

Like most parents today, Faris cooked and cleaned as a kid, but she's in the minority when it comes to passing on these skills. A national phone survey by Braun Research found 82% of respondents said they regularly did chores as children, but only 28% percent expect their own kids to do them now.

At the same time, other research suggests doing chores in childhood is linked to professional success later in life, so it really is in our best interest to have our kids pitch in around the house.

As a #boymom, Faris is making it very clear to Jack that she expects he'll have to look after himself someday, and that everyone needs to know how to make a stirfry and work the washing machine.

"I see it as sort of a gift to whatever future partner he may have that he knows how to clean a bathroom and that he appreciates how to do his laundry and he knows how to cook. It's just very important to me because he does have a lot of help with things," Faris explains.

Cooking together is a family tradition 

When Faris was growing up, cooking with her mom Karen was a time to chat and enjoy a shared activity. Jack's grandmother started cooking with him when he was just two-and-a-half, so the tradition continues.

"My mom is an amazing cook and that was our bonding time when she would get me in the kitchen and we would cook together. I love to cook, I'm not nearly as good as she is. I mean she used to work with a catering company and she taught bread making classes and she loves what she's doing. She's won like eight pie competitions, but it was our time to really bond and talk," says Faris, who is happy to relive the experience with her son and her mom.

"He's learning, although he doesn't realize it, about not only life skills and self-sufficiency but, also math skills, oddly, like measuring and the chemistry of cooking," says Faris, who adds that Jack is more likely to try a new dish if he's helped make it.

"A couple of nights ago, we made curry with Uncle Ben's basmati rice and it was delicious. I've always loved curry but that was something Jack wouldn't have necessarily tried if he wasn't involved in cooking it," Faris tells Motherly. "I didn't make it very spicy, I put a lot of cream in there, butter. So it was delicious."

Photo Credit: Uncle Ben's. Anna Faris has partnered with Uncle Ben's to support the Homework Pass Challenge, where kids swap homework for cooking healthy meals with their families, like Faris and her mom are doing here.

Helping Jack eat healthier 

Even as a grownup, Faris still loves cooking with her own mom, who is helping Jack expand his palate a bit by finding new ways to get him interested in healthy food as he grows.

"My mom, in a stroke of genius, got him for his last birthday—which was in August, just turned six—my mom got him a little pair of kid's chef knives and an apron and a cookbook and an adorable chef's hat. And so he's more excited, he loves vegetables now because I let him chop vegetables because he just wants to use the knives."

Faris is totally on the right track here. One study by Britain's Children's Food Trust found that kids who learn to cook before age 8 are 50% more likely to have a healthy diet later in life.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to three...how bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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