Meaningful mealtime doesn’t have to start when the food is brought to the table or end when the plates are pushed away. We can teach our children to plan meals, shop wisely, prepare the table for dinner, cook, and clean up after the meal.
Meal planning allows us to shop more specifically, and helps us not to flounder each day when it is time to cook. Here are a couple of links dedicated to meal planning that may be helpful:
Shopping with children can be enjoyable for everyone involved. I have two young ones, and I am careful to go out when they are well rested! My daughters love watching me clip coupons each Monday, and one day I will let them help me cut and organize them. My oldest daughter watches me match the coupons to the food, “We’re going to buy this kind of cereal this week because Mommy has a coupon for this one.” When we get home, I let my oldest who is three, help me put the groceries away in their proper place.
We as adults spend so much time in the kitchen, and isn’t it great when our little ones can join us? I think many of us have memories of our childhood kitchens, whether we were eating a snack after school, helping to prepare a meal, or talking as we cleaned up the dinner dishes.
Both girls and boys will appreciate learning how to help in the kitchen. Simple mixing, or even holding a measuring spoon for you until you are ready for it, will make toddlers feel like they are helping. Older children can even prepare simple meals with your supervision.
The table is a wonderful time for families to talk and spend quality time with one another without other distractions. Take the time to find out about everyone’s day and what things will be going on the next day. Laugh and enjoy each other. This may be the only time in the day that everyone can be in one place at the same time.
When mealtime is over, little children can carry small items to the kitchen, and of course, older children can help with the washing and putting away. This doesn’t have to be time of monotony; many find this a great time to enjoy more family time together. Many hands do make light work.
I hope some of these links have been helpful! Enjoy dinner with your family.