Don’t know about you, but one of the most stressful times in the day has to be mealtimes, especially dinner, when everyone is tired out and the smaller members of the household know that the day is pretty much over.
But being a responsible parent, I decided to look into ways to make this time of the day more bearable. If you are like me, you probably hate sifting through reams of info to get to the practical stuff, and you just might be getting a litle sick of those ‘ten things’ lists that are everywhere at the moment. So what I’ve done is prepared a list of two things to do to instantly lift mealtimes so that your family are closer to dinner party etiquette than ever before, or something like that.
Let’s get to it then, number one in a list of two…
Time them and stick to it. A tried and tested favourite that I’ve only just latched on to. Get out the old audible timer and set it for, say, 15-20 minutes. Tell your brood that if they eat their meal before the timer stops, they get dessert. And that’s it. Don’t get involved with any kind of nagging or that awful cheerleading that we all do (Go on, you can do it! – they know they can do it, they really do), just let the timer tick-tock away, and watch them eat their meal. Won’t happen on opening night of course, give it three days. Worked a charm for me. My clan are still finickey eaters, but less so. So it is healthier already in the kitchen.
The second tip is the slightly controversial one. Every parenting book you can buy says that the family has to eat together or you’ll end up bringing up a set of serial killers due to their communication skills defecits. Rubbish. Remember the Responsible Parent Rule Number One (which I’ve just invented) – It’s Your Family. If you’ve been eating together every night because the books told you to, stop it.
On Fridays and Saturdays our two young gents eat together, while their parents sit in the other room. The boys aren’t traumatised, and we get some relaxation. You do what you feel is right. Let your children get distance and, more importantly, get used to eating without the mealtime cheerleader crew in the background (GO ON, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!).
If you have an only child, however, this second one may not work/be humane.
Try these two, give them a go, and, if anything, things will be less stressful.