You know the drill….
“Don’t talk with your mouth full!”
“I don’t need to see how big your mouth can get when it’s full of food!”
“Get your feet off the table”
“Stop complaining about your meal. When you can cook, you can choose to not cook with tomatoes, onions, pepper, bell pepper, asparagus, lettuce, pasta sauce, or anything else you don’t like.”
“Eat it. I promise you, that air bubbles aren’t spicy”. (seriously. I’ll never buy Phineas and Ferb Mac and Cheese again)
“How can you not like it? You haven’t even tried it!”
“Didn’t you like that yesterday?”
“Eat 2 more bites.”
“Eat 6 more bites.”
“One grain of quinoa is NOT a bite.”
“No, I will not hand feed you.”
“No, you can’t have cinnamon sugar on your mashed potatoes.”
“Honey, I want to hear what you have to say about your day, but you need to take a breath and eat.”
“Honey, seriously… stop talking.”
“Baby, really. Stop talking and EAT!”
“STOP TALKING AND EAT!”
I’m sure I could go on, but I think then I’d be nit-picking ;)
I’ve read/heard what they say about family dinners. You know, that children grow up to be awesome human beings if they would just eat dinner at the table with their folks at least 3 times a week. (Or something to that effect. I’m paraphrasing). But you know what they don’t talk about? How dinner is at the tail end of a tiring day. That dinner time is the opportunity for kids to fill their parents ears with constant barrages of “It’s not good enough”. It’s an awesome way to end a day, let me tell you.
If you don’t have these issues, trust me, I’m very excited for you. I wish I could say the same. I’ve always protected dinner time for the family. About 98% of the time, we eat around the table. And about 25% of that, we aren’t harping on each other constantly or eating in a pissed off silence (save for the “STOP TALKING AND EAT” moments).
Growing up, we ate dinner at the table. Our lives may have been chaos financially and/or mentally (though they were often linked), but I still remember having dinner at the table ,using our manners as well as we could (“Bibis, could you please pass the salt?”), drinking 2% milk, and marveling at how smart my parents sounded when they used $0.25 words or talked about intellectual topics (Don’t ask me which ones. I just remembered thinking my folks were smarties). I remember my sister and I taking turns at “doing table” (clearing dirties and loading the dishwasher), and my parents retiring to the living room for a cup of coffee (not even decaf! Crazy.). And cloth napkins. We always used cloth napkins.
I don’t remember the dinner hour being filled with complaints (though I’m sure there were some), nagging (though I’m sure there was some), or being told to stop talking. After all, isn’t this whole “Family Dinner” thing about reconnecting with those you love most?
So, I began to assess what I dreaded about dinner time.
1) The kids talking more than eating.
2) Not having any meaningful conversation.
3) The kids digging in before my rear has touched the seat.
4) The complaining about whatever is in the dish, no matter how finely I chopped, diced, or minced said ingredient. I refuse to puree things just to get my kids to eat them.
Inspired by the book Dwelling: Living Fully from the Space You Call Home by Mary Beth Lagerborg, I began thinking about ways to change those things. Here is what I came up with:
1) Dinner Time Show and Tell Box.
2) Blessing our food (We are TERRIBLE about doing this)
3) Eating “Family Style”, even if it means more dishes to wash.
4) Dinner Time Conversation Box
5) Child created centerpiece
7) Cloth napkins
Have I piqued your interest? Curious how I make all of those elements work to help calm the dinnertime chaos? Come back this afternoon to read Calming the Dinner Time Chaos: Part 2!