With little girlfriends so close, Ava has been able to walk the neighbor's house alone (though under observation), and invite her friends over or stay and play. (Poor Wyatt!) So much fun for her to quickly make arrangements and then just take off down the street. It seems so far for her, but still easily monitored by a parent at either home.
The tradeoff? Now she has to make dinner one night a week! (Ok, so no, the two things are not directly related.) It started out as my way to give the kids one night when they knew they'd love whatever we were having for dinner, rather than being subject to my whims. As I thought about it more, I realized it would be very simple to start moving Ava toward independent meal preparation with these meals that she loves. She helps all the time now, but I wanted her to take the next step. So far she has made mostly breakfast food, but next week she did put burgers and carrot sticks on the calendar. We've also agreed that Daddy gets more food because he's bigger, so I talk her through using up leftovers or making a hefty salad or something, so Grant doesn't have to come home to a bowl of strawberry oatmeal after working all day. He's such a good sport about it, but he also really appreciates having a bit more "real" food offered too.
Here's what we love about this: Ava practices planning, checking for ingredients, and preparing a simple meal. I talk her through including a vegetable, etc., if needed. She also has the responsibility of setting the table with things like serving spoons (beyond regular place settings), and dealing with any leftovers. Sometimes she feels very stretched by the process (any time she has to go near the oven), but overall she loves it too, and her pride at her accomplishment shines all over her face She also has to manage additional helpers in the kitchen (read: her brother), which is its own learning experience.