While visiting from out-of-town, Grandma (my mom), was having breakfast with us when her cell phone rang. This was a predicament for the kids who turned to me wondering what I’d do (knowing we don’t allow cell phones at the table). Since Grandma has disregarded our house rule before, I thought it a good time to kindly ask, “Do you mind not answering that?” She looked at me, thought for a ring, and then answered it anyway! We sat trying to enjoy our meal while she carried on a conversation with someone else at the table. She eventually got up and walked away. But, by then, everyone was nearly done and our ‘quality time’ felt spoiled.
Now, Grandma LOVES her grandchildren. She didn’t realize what affect her choice had on us. No doubt, we’ve all made decisions that have been detrimental to quality mealtimes together. The point of having dinnertime ground rules is to enjoy one another. Although unfortunate, this experience taught my kids a little lesson on why we don’t allow cell phones at the table – and I didn’t have to preach.
Since I’m making the effort of prioritizing family meals, it’s important to guard our time from unwelcome interference. Although some meals feel like ‘eat-and-run,’ I want to make room for more: real discussion and heartwarming laughter.
When eating together, try these mealtime ground rules:
Would you like to really know how someone feels or what they’re thinking? We ask the question, “How are you?” all day long, but do we really know how a co-worker, spouse, or even our children are doing? Just Observe, Wait, and Listen (OWL), it’s that easy!
We adapt this approach from Speech Pathologists who began using OWL in language development. It’s a valuable communication tool for us all.
OWL encourages us to notice what has captured other’s interest and to patiently wait as they communicate about it. Listening shows people their value. When we aim first to hear what’s on their mind, rather than dominating conversation with our thoughts and opinions, we’ll discover just how much we’ve been missing!
Tonight, at your family dinner, I challenge you to OWL.
It’s fun to see a renewed interest in nutrition, cooking, and canning in this generation of 20-somethings. Yet, many of this age group have been left behind in being taught how to cook. A generation ago 80% of Baby Boomers could cook from their pantry without a recipe; today 20% of their children can prepare a meal from scratch.
Teaching kids to cook isn’t difficult and provides them with lifelong skills. As the old adage goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” You’d be surprised what children can learn at a young age with a bit of coaching. Soon, they’ll have skills that will serve them for a lifetime.
Follow this model for a helpful way to train kids to cook:
- You show them, while they watch you
- Do it together
- They show you, while you watch them
Here’s what your budding chefs can learn:
What mom wouldn’t love a freezer full of meals to make dinners nutritious and easy for a whole month?
Here are some fun options to make Mom smile with Dream Dinners on Mother’s day or any special day:
- Sit down at the computer together and let Mom select her meals while you pick up the tab.
- For a fun night out, take Mom to a Dream Dinners’ session and prepare meals together. Then, put them all in her freezer when you bring her home.
- Surprise Mom with a bag of homemade meals you deliver to her front door.
- If mom lives far away, purchase a gift card online and we’ll mail it to her or send her an e-card (your choice). We suggest $75 for our Introductory Offer (for first time guests) or $200 for ~ a month’s supply!
Wow, a freezer full of meals – this will be a gift she’ll remember!
The Battle’s On
Your child might be winning now, but, losing later to finicky habits and poor nutrition.
Picky eaters can turn rational parents into obsessed, battle-weary, rationalizing, bargaining, pleading, crazy people! Whew, I’m worn-out just from describing it! We’re afraid our ‘little darlings’ will never eat balanced meals and will become malnourished skeletons, vanishing away like a puddle on a sunny day. I know; I’ve butted up against my share of picky strong-willed wonders. Someone’s cornered, and it feels like me!
Tough Love is not Mean
If you’ve done your due diligence with the family MD and he’s assured you they’re not going to die, then maybe it’s time to heighten your strategy and offer a little tough love. Although very cute, picky eaters are typically masters of the power struggle. If this is your child, read on.
There’s something so heartwarming to see my kids practice hospitality as young adults. As parents we spend years teaching them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ among a host of other manners, so it’s nice to know it eventually pays off!
Arrive with a gift in hand.
Besides the usual table manners regarding napkins, elbows, and full mouths, I taught my kids to never go to a party empty-handed. They would always bring something to share like a bag of chips or soda. Today, it warms my heart when my daughter makes grandma dinner and my son brings her flowers. Recently, my son went to a friend’s in Eastern Washington and I asked him what he brought. After mentioning donuts and some other items he chirped,
This week we were talking with our son about his grades, all Bs and two Cs, and I joked, “I always thought you would get A’s!”
It wasn’t funny like I thought.
I apologized, as I know he does his homework every night. But, then I asked him, “How did that make you feel.” (This is a magical question I’ve come to know).
He said, “It makes me feel stupid, like I’m not good enough.”
I take it back. Is it too late to take it back?
My crash lesson woke me up to the fact that my expectations can have power, and sometimes negative power to discourage and deflate my kid’s self-image.
Start by grouping couples or families into teams each representing a different country and let the competition begin! (You can have them draw the country from several you pre-select). Designate a judge to vote for game winners and to keep the games moving. Make a music play list to add to the competitive mood. Have fun!
Let’s face it, sweets and treats motivate kids! From the time they begin potty training we start reinforcing their behavior with whatever works best. Rewards come in smiles, high fives, a cheerful “good job,” and quite often, a piece of candy or a trip to their favorite restaurant. Much of our cultural celebrations involve food and these are wonderful traditions. There’s nothing wrong with having cake & ice cream for birthdays or going out to eat to celebrate your ‘Student of the Month.’ But what happens when food becomes a prize for just about everything? Think about your family, what food rewards are your doling out on a regular basis?
Too many food rewards have a downside: we learn to eat for emotional reasons, sugar becomes a habit or an addiction, and we pack on the pounds. We’re a product of our time, everyone gets a trophy. If we reward every little accomplishment, we diminish its uniqueness while the overused prize loses its value. We can end up treating ourselves (and our kids) for everyday occurrences, just because we ‘deserve’ it. There has to be a balance.
Try to find other ways to reward your kids and celebrate accomplishments. This is
Children welcome and wish for snow days… a day off from school and a chance to play outside. When the weather keeps you from getting out of the driveway, seize the day. Bundle them up and head outside, you too!
- Summer games seem new in the snow. Try: Tic-Tac -Toe, Hop-Scotch, Follow-the-Leader, and Tag.
- Play Act. Pretend you’re the Grinch, Frosty, or any of your favorite Christmas story characters and reenact you kid’s favorite scenes outside together.
- Build something with snow. Give them shovels and buckets to create roads, forts, cities, creatures, and furniture.