As our children grow older, we no longer can count on them following us around the house until we stop and listen to their stories. I’ve been a mom for nearly 8 years now, and as I wonder where the time went, I’m making sure I start some healthy habits that we can carry through the elementary and teen years.
The family dinner isn’t important just because of the food that’s served, it’s also an important part of reconnecting with those you love, and cooperating through the preparation and cleanup process.
Yes, the family dinner table is a wonderful place.
Here are 7 habits that can help you enjoy your family dinners more:
- Starting before dinner, limit snacking to vegetables only or none at all. This ensures that everyone is hungry for the meal to be served. Hunger is the best seasoning!
- Serve balanced meals with a protein, fat, carb (optional), veggie, and probiotic. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Probiotics are condiments if you’ve done a fermentation day. Savory scrambled eggs with veggies added, a cup of yogurt fulfill all these requirements and are an easy 10-minute meal.
- Keep the electronics away. Our kids are watching us, and they are going to imitate what they see from us in their own lives. We have a no electronic (or toy!) rule at our house.
- Practice table manners, and gently encourage their use in your children. Children who know good manners will feel more comfortable later in life when they have to dine with their spouse’s family, go to work lunches, and eat at nice restaurants. We want these manners to be second nature to our children.
- Ask positive open ended questions. I like to ask my children, ‘what was your favorite part about today’. We can follow up with more questions about what they liked, how they may have worked hard to achieve their goals, etc. And the first time they spontaneously ask about your day is just priceless! As long as you take care not to be critical, most children enjoy having a parent interested in their lives.
- Clean as you cook, and clean right after dinner. I’m still working on this habit, it’s too easy, especially with young children, to think that it’ll be easier to get everything done after the kids are in bed. But again, we want to be modeling good behavior for our kids and teaching them how to clean up while they are still small. So cleaning up right away is a great habit to get into.
- Have something special at the table. The kids love to pick me flowers, so I keep flowers on the table as often as I can. They also love lighting a candle for dinner. It’s not much, but it’s an easy tradition that they enjoy, and it makes even scrambled eggs feel more fancy.