As a mom of twin toddlers I often overlook the importance and significance of family mealtime for my children. When you are making and serving three meals a day plus three or four snacks (is it just me or do toddlers eat all day long??), the very act of sitting down at the table and taking time to eat properly can become a tiring daily task.
When I’m already exhausted from the simple fact that I have two two- year olds to keep alive, putting any extra effort into the act of eating, seems counterintuitive. I should really conserve my energy for the toddler meltdowns that are all too common lately.
However, I’ve been inspired again recently by one of my favourite authors and her perspective on the importance of mealtimes in celebrating a family’s rituals and traditions.
…mealtime offers us an opportunity each day to celebrate being a family. In a world that is full of change and inconsistency and uncertainty, we each have a place that is really ours, a place at our own table, and we can come together there and nourish our bodies and souls, as human beings have done since time began.
-Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God
The act of eating together draws people into a bond of fellowship and belonging. It is not just about relieving hunger, it’s about preparing good, tasty food together and enjoying it.
Now, obviously if you are a mom at home all day with small children like I am, it might not be doable to sit with your kids every time they have a snack or meal and eat with them. I find I am rarely able to eat at the same time as my girls, simply because by the time I get my plate ready, they are usually done and eager to be off playing.
So that’s why I’ve decided to simply focus on doing a few family meals a week, either in the evening when my husband is home, or on the weekends. During these times we take a little more effort into making the meal special, and all sit and enjoy being together as a family. Since the girls are now old enough to help with a few simple meal preparations, I’ve tried to start including them in a few ways.
Here are 5 ways your kids can help set the mood to celebrate family mealtime.
- Set fancy placemats or make their own with paper.
- Gather creative center pieces or little bits of nature to put by each plate (leaves, flowers, etc).
- Fold and place fabric napkins by each plate.
- Pour juice into fancy glasses.
- Set plates and arrange cutlery.
Taking a bit of extra effort to send the message to your children that family is important and that you love being together is never wasted. As kids get older they can help more with mealtime and the actual preparing of food, which gives so much opportunity for bonding. I look forward to when my girls are old enough to help in the kitchen more, as I have so many good memories of helping my mom and grandmothers.
Good habits are important to start when kids are young, so that’s why I am making more of an effort in this area…even if we have to start off slowly, because let’s face it, most days it’s just easier to cook up another pot of macaroni and call it a day! 🙂
What are some ways your children like to help with mealtimes? Share your ideas in the comments below!