My family dinner just got a makeover courtesy of Raising Six Children in New York City. I usually put a lot of effort into WHAT I feed my kids, but fall short on the HOW we are eating. Well, Mommy Wommy showed me how to put a little FUN into my family dinner. After seeing RSCinNYC's dinner rules and seeing her set her table, I was inspired to make and decorate a big sign with dinner rules for everyone to follow. While I made the sign the kids drew their own pictures and I used their drawings underneath the plexiglass on our table as a tablecloth. Then I sent the kids to play while I set the table. I served everything I could find in little bowls: blueberries, pickles, broccoli, carrots, tings, some leftover strawberries in addition to a main course. It really looked like a feast. But the highlight for everyone was the music. I put my daughter's birthday mix on my laptop and let our first family fun dinner unfold.
For so long I haven't wanted to make any rules around meals and food. We had so many food restrictions that I would just make whatever anyone wanted and we would eat. But, now that everyone is better and things are settled down, it was nice to be inspired to make meal time more of a family event and a special occasion. We do come together and eat delicious food every day, but my daughter would just bring a book and eat quickly. We would enjoy the homemade food and I always use cloth napkins and set the table, but it wasn't very ceremonious and it wasn't fun. My kids would both eat quickly and then ask: "Did I eat enough to get dessert?" Not really the way you want mealtime to go after working hard to make a nice dinner! But everything I tried backfired until I got to watch a pro-mom of six kids set her table and tell me her secret: dinner rules, little bowls of everything, flowers, a tablecloth, fun napkins and MUSIC in the background. A mini dinner party every night it looked like to me as I watched Mommy Wommy effortlessly set her amazing table for her large family.
When I first told my daughter that I had written up some dinner rules she said "I'll pass." But she actually partook in all our rules (1-say a prayer/thankyou 2-share something about your day or ask someone else a question 3-ask to be excused 4-clear your plate, please.) Spelling it out in a giant poster we decorated together seemed to be a much more effective way of communicating these rules than just telling them verbally. I learned this from RSCinNYC.
I was so inspired by our first family FUN dinner that I got out the white tablecloth, cut some stems off some daisies and ended up polishing silver at 10:50 pm.--FOR BREAKFAST. Thanks a bunch to Raising Six Children in New York City for our family dinner (and breakfast!) makeover. I can't wait for your book but you really need a TV show!