Thursday, April 29, 2010

Family Dinner by Sarah of Frankly Entertaining

Sarah of Frankly Entertaining is here with some tips on making daily family dinner a reality. Plus, there's a sweet giveaway for all you hostesses out there...

I won’t lie, one of the reasons that I was excited to start a food blog with Christina was the hope that I might get to do a guest post here. Christina had already written here, but this is my first venture into the world of Bloom!

Eating dinner together as a family is a rule in our house. We have quite a few rules, but this is the one we stick to more than any other. We eat together at a table. There are times when there are so many of us that we have to eat at two tables, but the general idea is that your rear end needs to be in a seat! The television needs to be off. Even if my kids have paused a show or a game, the screen needs to be off because the whole family is so easily distracted.

At our family table we have four children ranging in ages from 6 years – 11 months. That means only one kid is strapped in; the rest need some kind of motivation to stay at the table with their oh so cool parents. So, how do we keep our kids interested in dinner? Here are some things that work for us:

  1. We try to eat at the same time every night. It’s amazing how much a schedule helps. Also, no one can start to eat until everyone is seated and the blessing has been said.
  2. We have dessert. The kids need something to motivate them to finish their vegetables. Sometimes it’s cake, but sometimes it’s only raspberries. We just need to call it dessert.
  3. We try to make it quick. We are not at a place in life where our children can survive a three hour meal, so it usually lasts between twenty minutes and a half an hour.
  4. We let them pick out dinner every once in a while. My kids aren’t picky eaters, but sometimes we overlook how much they want to be included in the decision making process. There aren’t many decisions that a four year old can help with, but he can decide what he wants for lunch.
  5. If there’s something on the plate that I know my kids don’t like, we add dipping sauce. The sauce could be ketchup, salsa, fry sauce or bbq sauce. Dipping makes everything more palatable.
  6. We let them use the grown up dinnerware. We have a drawer full of plastic Ikea dishes and cutlery, but recently my kids have enjoyed using the same forks and plates as mom and dad. If you’re worried about things breaking, there are all kinds of fancy melamine dishes for picnics and patios around this time of year.
  7. Celebrate anything. If you look up the date on Wikipedia you can find no end of things to celebrate. Tomorrow happens to be the Queen’s day in Holland . We could make Stroop Wafels with Duo Penotti, just because. It’s national poetry month: you could try to rhyme the entire time (just like that!).Everyone loves a party!

I would like to tell you that every meal goes perfectly at my house, but that would be a flat out lie! My four year old likes to wander around the table “helping” his siblings, and every so often there is a tantrum over mashed potatoes, but for the most part, my kids stick to the routine. The biggest thing though, is that I know what to expect. A frazzled mom makes for a frazzled meal, and that is not enjoyable for anyone!

Eating dinner as a family, even if it's breakfast cereal, can be one of the best times of the day if we go about it with the right attitude.

Thanks Anne and Emily for letting us come over and visit.

Today over at franklyentertaining we’re doing a get to know you with aprons. As a bonus, and to celebrate our time here, we have a couple of giveaways. We’re giving away Christina's fancy hostess apron here at Bloom, and over at Frankly Entertaining we're giving away a fancy apron book. Feel free to enter both giveaways. Just leave a comment here at the end of this post for the hostess apron and leave a comment at Frankly Entertaining if you're interested in the apron book. Good luck! Entries need to be submitted by midnight EST tomorrow (Friday).

20 comments:

S said...

I think the most helpful part of this post, for me, is the frazzled mom part. I think my expectations are frequently too high and unrealistic and then I end up being frazzled and I know I don't have a good time . . . probably nobody does.

The Alexanders said...

Great tips and a beautiful apron!
cheyennealexander at hotmail dot com

bjahlstrom said...

That apron is incredibly adorable.

suburban prep said...

What a stunning apron.
msgb245 at gmail dot com

Dani said...

Love your new blog. Frankly Entertaining is delightful. Thanks for introducing us Bloom.

becky said...

thanks for the tips! And the apron is so cute!

kyliro said...

What a great post! I'll definitely be using some of those tips! The apron is adorable! Hope I win:)

K.Q. said...

Thanks for the awesome tips! I am really enjoying your blog.

Ingrid said...

Great post, Sarah! You've got Mommy style for sure, you classy lady you!

Melissa said...

Right now with kids at ages 8 and 10, we take for granted that we eat dinner together. I know it will get harder, and I know families make it work. This is a great reminder for me to continue with the habit. Thanks! I LOVE that apron too! :D

Jonesy said...

How is it that my hubby has an apron (you know, the iron-on photo, kids' handprints w/ "I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home" scribbled across the top kind) and I, who cooks nearly every meal, do not? Let's remedy this, shall we?

jeanine said...

I have the hardest time keeping my boys seated at dinner! My 3-year-old often leaves and we find him in the playroom playing superheroes by himself! Drives me crazy!

And I love the apron!

Brooke said...

Great tips... so easy, yet, I seem to forget them when the going gets rough! Thanks! And the apron is adorable

Pamela said...

Sarah I loved your ideas! I am really enjoying your new blog! Love the apron!

Bloom said...

Taylor and I LOVE your idea of celebrating something all the time. Not only for the added fun, but for the learning opportunities, as well!

anne

EHC said...

My first child is 13 months old and I'm realizing how important all of these "rules" can be, even for him (except he doesn't get a real knife yet!). Good to remember when siblings will get thrown in the mix too!

CarolAnne said...

Our seventh child has just left home, so after nearly 38 years of marriage, we are empty nesters. Two of the most successful things in our home was having a dinner menu and eating together at night. Using a monthly menu meant I could shop carefully and didn't have that "what's for dinner" hanging over me at 4 in the afternoon. The kids liked looking at the menu to see what we would be having to eat.

Secondly, the dinner table was always set with placemats or a table cloth and dishes that matched. It didn't matter if the meal was simple, the table always looked inviting. Even though our family stayed busy with plenty of activities, we were very successful at having most everyone home for dinner most of the time. Dinners with that many people were noisy and wild, but a lot of fun with a variety of conversation and lots of humor.

And, I have always used an apron. Moms need pockets!

Matt and Joanna said...

Love the post and love the ideas. I'm definitely going to change some things around our house when it comes to dinner time! Plus... I love the apron, how fun!

Kathryn said...

We've always had family dinners but with my oldest starting kinder next year I know it will be more of a challenge. Thanks for the tips!

annie said...

These are some great ideas! I also love the apron.