Sunday, May 15, 2011

Family Dinner Revival

A while back I would have been completely embarrassed to share our family dinner routine--mainly because we had no routine; or structure. With such picky eaters (much of it due to my own lack of discipline), my husband and I found ourselves making separate dinners for each of our children. He and I wouldn't eat together until the kids were in bed where we could eat in peace without the "eww" and "I don't like that".

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says, "Everyday I give my family two choices for dinner...take it or leave it." I've intended to live up to this, but it's rarely happened. I have always envied families who have sit down dinners, where everyone eats and passes the side dishes around the table. I admit, I hate cooking with a passion! In order to balance the need for family dinners together and the kids actually eating we eat out quite a bit at "sit down" restaurants.

I'm excited to say I've found a solution! It's only been 1 week but I'm blown away at the results. Curious yet? Okay, here it is; we have a family of 5. Two days a week, Fridays and Saturdays, we've committed to eating out still for tradition's sake, and because those days we're often away from the home at dinner time. For Sunday through Thursday each of us have drawn days out of a jar. Those are our permanent days we are each responsible for preparing dinner for the family--yes, even our 2 year old daughter with help from Mommy and Daddy!

When it's our day to cook, we get to choose what everyone eats. We lead prayer, and we set the table. We each bus our own dishes afterward. This is what has happened as a result:

  • The children get excited to create what they want knowing (within reason) everyone will eat it or at least try it, no rude comments allowed.
  • They learn cooking skills.
  • They also learn to be sympathetic toward those making meals they may not like and try them anyway knowing a lot of work and preparation went into it. After all, they wouldn't like it if someone complained about the meal they carefully planned and made with love.
  • The children have gained such pride and self confidence as they watch their family eat what they've prepared.
  • My husband and I kind of get a break from cooking. We still help guide them with their preparations.
  • We are bonding and creating lasting memories. Today as I was helping my 9 year old make French toast, he offered me a high five with our spatulas as one of his toasts turned out beautiful.
I'm sure there are other benefits of our new dinner routine. Finally, we get to live up to the magnet quote about two choices; taking it or leaving it. My hope is my kids, oral sensory issues and food aversions or not, will learn to appreciate new things and cherish family dinnertime.

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