How To Have A Family Dinner With Kids
I have been a reader for years now, and treasure your tips on living together simply as a family. I was wondering if you can offer some tips on *how* to have a family dinner? My husband and I are parents to a young toddler, and neither of us grew up with the kind of family togetherness that we would like to have for our son.
The problem is that we’re running into dead ends as to how to have a family dinner effectively and (most of all!) simply. If we look to having "simple" meals we find them to be more expensive (Meat, 2 vegetables, etc.) or we just throw a bowl of pasta and veggies together (read: fattening!).
What kind of meals should we have or prepare with a toddler, or should we have our own and try to expose him to new kinds of foods if he does not like them?
Right now our boy can’t use silverware and we find that only one of us is eating, the other is assisting him, and the timing is all off. How do we eat as a family when someone needs assistance?
Are there any good mealtime prayers you can offer?
Should we prepare our meals on the weekends or is there something quick and nutritious we can just throw together on a weeknight when we have 2 hours of family time?
Above all, what is the best way to involve everyone in cleanup?
First, you have to understand you have a toddler. Dinner won’t be same until your toddler is at least three or four years old. I have four kids and honestly have yet to have a relaxing "simple" family dinner. I have no clue what people are talking about when they say they "want" a family dinner. To me, a family dinner with kids is just nothing but chaos. Having said that, my kids are spread out, so we have had to help someone at dinner for more than 11 years now. It is much better to get them to sit down and eat a meal than to graze all evening.
So yes, sit down and have dinner with him or her, but you will have to plan to help out for now.
Feed your child what you are eating. Just cut it up and make smaller pieces/portions.
I’m not sure I understand why simple meals are more expensive. Most dinners for me NEVER cost more than $7 to feed 6 and usually dinner costs around $5 for the entire meal, not per person. If you need some ideas check out the easy menus on our website.
As far as a prayer, we just pray as we feel led. You can look up "meal prayers" on Google and find some very good ones if you want to have the same blessing each meal. We did that growing up and here’s the one we said:
We thank you Lord for this our food for sun and rainy weather,
We thank you Lord for health and home and that we are together. Amen.
Yes, cook food and use it more than once. I cook a roast and will use it for three or four meals. I make several meals out of a chicken, too.
To clean, it works well of one person clears and wipes the table and the other one washes the dishes. Switching who does which job every so often is helpful. Now that my kids are older, each one takes seven things off the table. Then one clears what’s left, one wipes the table and the other loads the dishwasher. I have them rotate tasks each week so they all have an equal share.
I hope that gives you some ideas.
Photo By: Chris Isherwood