Friday, January 20, 2012
Stress-Free Dinner Transitions | Family Economics
Several months ago, I accidentally took a dish towel to the table. It was a revolutionary moment in my career as a “mom chef.”
Because I had the towel at the table, I didn’t have to get up again to grab one when someone spilled their milk, or smeared their peas all over the table (20 month old!). It was one less interruption and one less thing for me to have to do during the meal. It allowed me to continue sitting at the table without having to get up, and we were able to enjoy our family meal.
So it got me to thinking…what else can I do to make the whole “get dinner on the table” transition a little smoother?
Bear with me here…before we had children, my husband and I knew a family who had a rule that the kids (mostly toddler/preschoolers) were not allowed in the kitchen while mom was preparing food. At the time, I thought it was more for the children’s safety (hot oven, boiling water on the stove). But now I know it was so my friend could move about the kitchen without stepping on little toes or having little ones hugging her knees keeping her from moving from the fridge to the cutting board.
I completely get it now. As a mom who has a small kitchen and who has three very active little boys, I totally get it. I don’t want them in my kitchen while I’m finishing up dinner and getting it ready to serve, partly for their safety and partly for my sanity. But I need them to come into the kitchen to get forks, spoons, cups, etc. to set the table.
But do I?!?
I don’t really NEED to have them come into the kitchen. I quickly figured out the solution to my problem. While I’m putting the final touches on the food, I can set out the plates and tableware on the corner of the counter. The boys can then take it from the counter and set the table – without ever having to come into the kitchen…
And let me tell you what, the nights that I remember to get the plates and forks out and onto the counter so they can then set the table, those are the nights that dinner transitions run smoothly.
So I’ve got the kids setting the table without coming into the kitchen and I’ve got my dish towel ready and waiting on my lap for the inevitable spill.
I’d love to hear the things your family does to keep things flowing smoothly from prep time to cook time to sit down time. What changes have you made to make your family dinners more enjoyable?