Meal times are such an important part of the day in any household but they hold their own problems. We all wish for a day that we can settle down and eat our meals in peace without any drama but the reality is that it is extremely unlikely to happen. For a number of reasons, meal times can be the most stressful time of any families day. Here are five ways you can aim to make that time of day a little less stressful for you all.
Give Everyone A Say
I find a lot of the time that a lot of the stress at meal times comes from not letting everyone have their own input in the situation. This doesn’t mean letting everyone dictate what they are having and cooking a myriad of different meals but rather letting everyone explain what they would like and coming up with a plan. A great way to do this is to come up with a meal plan where everyone has their own day where they choose what the family is having that day. Any days left over can be freestyled or used when having a treat meal such as takeout.
Giving people (especially children) some choice lets them think they have some control which will generally make things a little easier.
Get Everyone Involved
Following on from the above point, sometimes people, especially children, just want to be involved. Let them help with the process. Whether it is by helping to prepare the food before cooking, cooking itself, setting the table or cleaning up afterwards, your children will probably want to help you – let them and see much happier faces at the table when you sit down to eat.
Take Control Of The Cooking
You can keep control of the cooking, even if you have helpers in the kitchen. Some meal time problems stem from people not wanting to eat certain ingredients. There is no need to force the issue but if you are having dishes with sauces such as pasta, it is easy to hide the veggies in the sauce, all blended up, and they will never know. They think they haven’t had to eat them and you can rest easy, knowing they are still getting their daily five fruit and veg.
Don’t Force Issues
It also needs to be said that you shouldn’t force issues either. It is easy to hide veggies in sauces but don’t try to force family to eat something they really don’t like if they don’t want to. Without forcing, they may eventually start trying that food again of their own accord.
Meal times can be stressful sometimes but they needn’t be. Sometimes it is all about a little affirmation – letting your child know they have done well for sitting at the table without mucking around or trying that food they don’t like without complaining. Sometimes the simplest little things can brighten up someone’s day and make the situation less stressful for everyone around them.