We all want to enjoy a nice meal at the table with the whole family. Unfortunately, the reality often turns out to be different. The various sports and clubs throw a spanner in the works and if they do succeed, the fun is sometimes hard to find. Yet it is precisely such a meal together that is super important. According to scientific research, it can reduce stress, lead to healthier food, valuable conversations and all this strengthens the family bond. Who doesn’t want this now? How do you ensure that eating together at the table really becomes a pleasant and valuable moment? Read our 5 tips.
PREPARE YOUR KIDS
For many children, sitting at the table is quite a difficult thing. They are just playing nicely, you shout that the food is on the table. Indicate in time that you are about to eat. This way children not only know that they still have some time to continue what they were doing, but also that it is almost over. And so the eating moment can start in a relaxed way for everyone.
APPOINT AN ASSISTANT COOK
Another great way to prepare your kids for dinner time is to involve them in the choice of the menu or the cooking itself. Have them wash vegetables, peel an egg, help beat and stir, decorate dessert or ask your toddler to ‘bake sandwiches’ in the oven of his own play kitchen. What could be more fun than being able to eat your homemade meal yourself?
MAKE IT FESTIVE
Why would you only decorate the table nicely on special days? Make it a party on normal weekdays too. And then let your kids help set the table. This is a lot more fun if they can dress things up a bit with colorful napkins, placemats, a few tea lights, and glasses decorated with window markers. And just as a festively set table is more inviting to eat, the way the food is served also makes a difference.
Topics that only you as adults can talk about don’t make it very interesting for children at the table. So make sure they can talk too. The questions ‘how was your day?’ or ‘how was school?’ usually provide the standard answers ‘good’ or ‘okay’. Regularly look up something else to talk about, by asking questions such as: What was the best thing you did today? Who made you laugh today? Or do a round of questions. One person takes turns asking a question to another person. So that everyone has a turn. Get to know your family more, you can see how they behave in a social environment and you can stay informed about what is going on in their lives. Spending time together as a family as regularly as possible can also signal changes in your children’s behavior. Having whole conversations with young children may still be difficult. Consider a game like ‘I see, I see what you don’t see’.
FORM A TEAM
You and your partner are a team, together you ensure that it becomes and remains fun. Make sure you keep the focus on food and each other, without the distraction of appliances, of course. If a child needs a little extra attention, one of you will give it; the other continues the conversation. Small problems such as dawdling, playing with the food, or sliding the plate are best ‘ignored’ appropriately. Of course, there are also behaviors that are difficult to ignore, such as constantly leaving the table or bickering and wrangling with siblings. If this happens, tell your child to stop doing this right away and tell them what to do. It could also be that your little one is in the I-eat-nothing-because-I-want-nothing phase. This is very difficult and of course, you worry about this. But you can’t force anyone to eat. So avoid unsociable hassle at the table and resign yourself to it. It’s a phase and it will pass.