Look Out I'm Parenting Here! Getting Through The Day Chapter 7: Ring Your Dinner Bell

Look Out I'm Parenting Here! Getting Through The Day Chapter 7: Ring Your Dinner Bell
Full Episode "Ring Your Dinner Bell"

The Family Dinner

Ted spends Chapter 7 talking about dinner time and how to get your kids ready for it. There is an important distinction we see here in this chapter compared to breakfast time, which we covered some time ago (before the blog started, but we do have a video for it!). Being towards the end of the day, dinner helps to cap off a day and help bring a review of everyone's latest news. Much like we talked about the ownership your kids have in the home will lead to a stronger connection with the family, a shared space at the table will also lead to quality bonding time. Don't let the world of instant gratification food and eating on the go deter you from this!

Video about getting a solid breakfast with your kids

Do not snack your dinner into oblivion

"The first key to a successful meal is to invite willing and eager participants" says Ted. Will it make sense for your kids to be snacking and curbing their hunger before meal time? Probably not, but as Ted states, many parents succumb to the demands of a hungry child. What usually ends up happening is that they snack so much, that they are no longer hungry for dinner! Ted gives a couple of tips for helping in these kinds of scenarios. Number one, portion your child's snacks. This means only a serving or two of those goldfish crackers, just enough to hold them over until dinner is ready. Number two, make healthier choices for your child's snacks. I used the example of goldfish crackers previously, but maybe fruit would be a better option? Number three, maybe they are just thirsty. As ted points out, sometimes people confuse thirst with hunger. Any way you slice it, make sure your kids come to dinner ready to eat.

Prepare a special place for everyone

Everybody present at dinner should sit in their very own assigned spot. This does one very important thing, eliminate any debate or fighting about where people sit. Ted also writes that this special spot reserved just for them will give your toddler a sense of pride in being at the same table with the family. They will realize that they are just as part of it as the parents are. Again, the last thing you will want to do is constantly play a game of musical chairs every time you sit down to eat. Think about the next time you eat out in public or at another family member's house, will you want the same fighting and games being played?

Bring on the pasta

Set a pre-eat routine

The toughest part of dinner time is getting everybody at the table while the meal is hot and ready (shout out to Little Caesars). Think about it from the toddler's perspective, they are going to be so enamored with the activity they have going on right now that they might not want to come downstairs right away. Like we stated in the last blog post, we can't surprise our kids with dinner out of the blue. So what do we do? Ted talks about making a pre-meal announcement at some time before actual dinner time. This could prime your kids that dinner is coming u soon and to be prepared. What I think will really make the difference is giving your kids a physical cue as to dinner is about to start. This could be cleaning up, setting the table, washing their hands. Your kids will respond more to these physical changes rather than telling them to be ready in 15 minutes.

Remove all distractions

I am a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to this part. I definitely like to have a podcast episode going while having a meal. However, when I am in the presence of company, I do make it a point to keep my phone away from the dinner table. Ted proposes to do something similar with your kids. Almost anything other than the meal in front of them will be considered a distraction. This goes for not only phones, but video games, toys, tablets, etc. These things will detract from your toddler focusing on the meal in front of them.

More enamored with your phone than your company

Make it special

There will be times where trying to make food taste great, just will not be good enough for a toddler. Yes, you can cook that special sweet potato recipe they loved two weeks ago, but today, they could care less about Grandma's secret to tasty spuds (olive oil..). Ted mentioned how he would often change up the presentation of a meal in order to give dinner a little more spice (no pun intended). Changing the presentation is a good way to change things up and make meal time more interesting. Kids might get more excited to try something if you cut it into different shapes, or use different colored plates. The effort in making it special doesn't have to be extravagant like you see in cooking shows (Top Chef anyone?) but doing a little extra goes a long way.