By Kylie of Kidgredients
There are weeknights when nothing is going to plan, when Mr Kidgredients is not going to make dinnertime and when the kids are too tired to care what is on their plates. Those nights I rely on something from the freezer like leftover lasagne, or something instant like a “ploughmans dinner” (basically, cold cuts, salad stuff, slices of cheese and some bread and fruit) or something from the slowcooker that is familiar.
But then there are special nights, those where we are all together. Those nights deserve a special meal and all the bits and bobs that come with that.
Here’s how to make a family meal feel special:
- Use a tablecloth: it might sound silly, because…well..kids make mess right? Yes, they most certainly do, but they make less when there is a table cloth on the table (especially if you talk it up, saying how special it is etc)
- Set the table with the cutlery needed for dinner and dessert (or better still, get the kids to do it). It’s a good reminder that eating all your dinner gets you dessert (even if it’s fruit, it’s worth waiting for).
- Candles. It’s all about the atmosphere. I use led candles, but they still get the kids excited about the meal and if you’ve got dimmable lights you can still see to eat!
- Use the good china (or any china for that matter) as it teaches the kids to respect the plates and makes the whole act of eating a bit more special.
- Let the kids choose the favourite meal, or favourite sides. Make sure that everyone gets a look in!
- TV OFF, music on. Something nice, acoustic, café music.
- Chat, ask questions if you don’t have enough ideas for family conversation, try starting to tell a story and constructing the rest of it together.
- Make clean up fun, do it together, make races, help each other out.
- Use the cleared table to play a game together. Our favourites are Pop up Pirate (no language skills needed) and Zingo.
- Have special family meals as often as you can – program them into your schedule, your meal plan so they happen!
Need an idea for an awesome family meal? Sticky Chicky is a favourite at our place because it can be cooking away in the slowcooker even while we are having fun out and about or in the backyard (http://kidgredients.com.au/sticky-chicky-wings/).