As busy parents know, dinner can be a stressful time. Setting the table, preparing a healthy and delicious meal, and cleaning up afterwards can be a real chore, especially when you are tired after a long day. Next time, instead of shooing the kids out of the kitchen, let them help! Kids are more capable than you think. Age appropriate chores help children learn responsibility and the value of being a helpful, contributing member of the family. And working together can be a fun bonding experience for everyone. We will tell you how!
The Fork Stands Alone
Elbows off the table…. Chew with your mouth closed…. Sit up straight and stop fidgeting…. hey, your shirt is not a napkin! If you’re a parent, you may have said one (or all) of these phrases around the dinner table at some point. We all want our children to have good manners, but table etiquette goes beyond saying please and thank you. Helping to set the table is great place to start! There are free printable placemats online that can serve as a guide or follow this simple rule from parents.com…. The fork stands alone on the left side of the plate, and the knife protects the spoon from the fork on the right side.
Master Chef Jr.
Preparing meals with your kids is a great way to build healthy eating habits, and instill a love of cooking, that will last into adulthood. Plus, children who help make dinner are more likely to try new foods! Check out our recent blog, 4 Tips To Get Cooking With Your Kids, for some fun, educational ideas to get kids involved in the kitchen. From helping to plan the weekly menu, to grocery shopping, and playing sous chef, you will be creating nutritious meals — and delicious memories — together! Cooking incorporates math, science, reading comprehension, geography, and fine motor skills, with a pinch of creativity!
The Clean Up Crew
Now that their tummies are full, enlist the kids to help with the after dinner clean up. Older kids can help carry the dishes to the sink while the younger set can wipe down the table with a damp cloth and put the ketchup or Parmesan cheese back in the refrigerator. Hand your child an apron and a step stool and let him help wash unbreakable pots and pans or load the dishwasher. The work will get done much quicker if everyone chips in, leaving extra time for dessert and maybe even a family board game or two!
Don’t forget to encourage your children along the way, and tell them how much you appreciate their effort. Let things slide if they are not done perfectly, and know that you are helping to build their self-esteem and confidence as they take on more responsibilities and improve their cooking skills. Eating together as a family is important to strengthen family bonds. Make the before and after a family affair as well!
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