Before our son was born, we ate nearly every meal around the coffee table, soaking in the news and whatever else was on TV. It was our routine that helped us unwind from our days but we knew it was bad habit to get into. We decided once our son was able to sit up, we would get him a high chair and we would start forming some better dinner time traditions.
Here are some of the ways we are practicing making dinner time family time:
1. Get them involved
Our son either sits at the bar in his phil&teds Lobster Highchair*or I wear him on my back in a carrier while I cook. I show him what I’m cutting up, I give him bits to nibble on, and I tell him what I’m doing as I do it. He’s only 9 months old so he can’t help but he is certainly paying attention to everything I am doing and soaking it all in. If they are old enough, give them little age-appropriate tasks like setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, washing the veggies, etc.
2. Meal plan together
On Sunday we write out what meals we would like to make for each night. This makes grocery shopping a lot easier, too. I’m able to run in, grab what we will actually use, and get out. This also helps when it comes to budgeting. When you run into the store last minute to grab things, you usually end up spending way more money and getting items you otherwise wouldn’t have bought. Getting the whole family involved in the planning process also means everyone has a chance for input, so no complaining (ha ha)!
3. Make the table a screen-free zone
And that includes mom and dad! I am so guilty of checking my phone at the table. Having the TV on or my phone in hand means I’m not actually engaging my family. I mean, I haven’t seen my husband all day long and now is the time where we both have each others un-divided attention where we can discuss important family matters or just joke around. I miss all that if my nose is buried in my iPhone.
4. Engage each other
This is our opportunity to get to know what is going on in each others lives. Not such a mystery when it comes to our 9 month old as I’m pretty aware of what he’s got cookin’ in his world but as he grows up, this will be the time of day where he/they will share what he/they did at school and he/they will be able to ask us questions and learn from us and us from him/them.
5. Start early
It’s never too late to build healthy habits like this but it’s also never too early. From the time Oliver could sit up, he’s been sitting his phil&teds Lobster Highchair* at the table. At six months we began Baby Led Weening and he loves the time we spend at the table talking to him and teaching him how to eat his foods. I swear he was more confident with eating because he had been sitting there for 3 months watching us eat. It was as if he already knew exactly what to do!
Suppertime in our home will always be the time of the day the kids will be able to count on having either mom or dad (hopefully both, not always possible) to chat with, confide in, and vent to. It wont always be possible because of extra curricular activities and eventually jobs but I want them to know we are here for them when they need us.
Does your family have any suppertime traditions? How has it changed the family dynamic at supper hour?
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