Dinner Time...that long-awaited and, during some phases of a baby's life, dreaded part of the day :) Dinner time was pretty easy for us before our little one came along. I'd make something that both my husband and I liked, we'd eat, clean up, and it was done. We had fun discussing the day's events and maybe making plans for the week. Etiquette wasn't really something we thought about. Fast forward three years -- dinner time with a one-year-old lady takes a little getting used to, and etiquette is on your mind a lot since the rules are usually being violated. Here are some tips we've learned along the way that you might find useful for your dinner time routine.
Tip 1: DON'T make dinner time TV time (or phone time). I have to admit that we rarely follow this one, but it's something we are working on. I look forward to days when my daughter can join in the conversation with us, and I think family dinner time will really be special for us. Right now she mostly just eats, throws her food around and smiles at us, but I don't want TV to get in the way of this quality time in the future!
Tip 2: DO teach your kids to use a spoon and fork at an early age! My daughter is currently going through a stage where she knows how to use her fork and spoon but is refusing. This has really taught me to value that she at least KNOWS how to use them! She is so much messier when she uses her hands only, which leads to bigger messes for me. It's important to teach her by example and repetition that using her fork and spoon is the right way to eat. I have hope that "this too shall pass" and that what we taught her early on will serve us well in the future when she starts using them again :)
Tip 3: DO eat together...and do whatever you have to do to make that possible! I used to try to make my daughter wait to eat with us, but that was a BIG MISTAKE! I learned that I needed to give her a snack to tide her over until we could all eat together. Now she's not starving by the time we eat, and we get to enjoy our meal together. This gives us time to show her the proper way to eat with her utensils, and it helps us keep an eye on that milk so it doesn't mysteriously end up in her food :) It also helps us teach her the value of spending that time together so that later in life she'll want to be there because she knows the importance of it.
Tip 4: DO make dinner time a fun time! Yes, you get tired of cleaning food off the floor, the high chair, the baby (and sometimes yourself), but try not to let the stress of dinner time make you dread it! Maybe you'll think this is horrible, but I stopped cleaning up ALL of the mess from each meal and started waiting until after dinner to do a more thorough cleaning. This way I'm not upset if some (or most) of her meal ends up on the floor, and we can all enjoy our dinner together. I still try to teach her the etiquette of cleaning up and not making a mess during our meals, but I found that enjoying the time was actually more important than those lessons...at least for now :)
These are just a few simple do and dont's for dinner time that work for our family. We still have SO much to learn when it comes to table etiquette with a baby, but we have had fun learning and we enjoy this time with our lady. I can only imagine that it will get better and better as she starts to interact more with us, though I know that time will bring new dinner time challenges too!
So, what about you? I'd love to know what you've learned that has helped make dinner time a success in your home...and I'd love to know what to expect as my daughter gets older. Funny stories are highly encouraged!!!
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