With four small children, meal time can be pretty close to a trip to the zoo.
You have one child (the monkey) climbing on and off their chair.
Another child (the hyena) teases everyone and then laughs as the victims get upset.
The “Lion” devours his food and then looks to see what he can grab off of another person’s plate.
The “mouse” simply nibbles on the meal……….taking a LONG time to actually finish. (Okay, so maybe there are no mice at the zoo………but this is my analogy so I can do whatever I want with it.)
If you only have one child, you most likely have NO idea what I am talking about. But if you are a mother that has more than one child…………let’s get together and compare gray hairs.
Well, one day I decided I had had enough. So I did what I do best………I created yet another group of rules in our house.
I will share them with you JUST in case you too have this problem at your dinner table. (But who knows, I may be the only one……..)
NO toys at the table. None! Zilch! Nada! No Way!
I have found that this rule alone cuts down on a lot of the noise at my table. (And the kids eat faster when they are not busy with a toy)
If I find just ONE toy in my dining room or kitchen, that toy goes in “time out” for a while.
If I see a toy in the kitchen, I loudly say “Oh look, a toy to put in time out!” I usually see the toy scene evacuated pretty quick after that. :)
No touching, teasing, or taking something (including food) from someone else. (No bad table manners in general)
If any of my children do this, they get ONE warning. If they do it again, they have to go to their room until everyone else is done eating, then they come and eat alone.
I like to stress to the offender that if they want to eat with others, they have to respect them. If they cannot do that, they eat alone. (And I like to rub it in by saying how eating alone is no fun…………......even though there are days I would LOVE to eat alone.)
You eat what is on your plate and THEN you can have something else.
If I know my kids don’t like a particular meal, I will give them a smaller amount, but I still have them eat it. They know that if they eat that small amount of food, they will then get to have something they DO like. (But it can’t be something that takes a lot of effort to make. They can have yogurt or a bagel…….applesauce……cereal……something simple like that)
I am NOT going to spend my evening making a different meal for each child.
When the child is done eating, they must ask to be excused and are responsible for taking their own dishes to the sink.
I even like to encourage them to tell me how nice the meal was…………because even though I enjoy hearing it, I also want them to grow up learning to be thankful for what they get.
Now go TRY to enjoy your next meal. ;)