From a young age, my dream was to have the “Walton” family. The icon of the perfect American family shown on a popular TV series in the 1970’s.
I dreamed of fun family devotions. Going camping. Serving neighbors and those in need. I envisioned our family of six sitting down to meals while everyone talked about their day and laughed over the memories.
Now I chuckle at my unrealistic dream. While these thoughts are all good desires, the day-in and day-out of parenting is hard and life is messy. Daddies are late for supper, meals don’t get done on time, and activities pop up during the dinner hour.
But does this mean to chuck the meal expectations out with the spoiled produce in the back of the refrigerator? Not at all!
Here are a few meal expectations we hold in our home:
1. Set the Table
Everyone helps set the table. We work on the children asking “What else may I put on the table?” before leaving the activity. After learning the main dish for dinner, the older children have to pull out everything needed for that type of meal. For example, if we are having Chicken Quesadillas, they know we will need salsa and chips on the table. If we have soup, a bowl and spoon would be required.
2. Thankful Attitude
Eating begins after prayer. We want our children to understand that God has blessed us with every morsel of yumminess and we need to begin by thanking Him.
3. Stay Seated
Unless they have permission, the children are to stay seated during the meal. Period. This is training for eating in restaurants and one I think is very important. (See embedded video below or click to view.)
Use a napkin and don’t talk with food in your mouth. These are standard table manners and ones I continue to battle with my kiddos.
5. Asked to be Excused
This is not a hard and fast “rule” in our family but everyone sits until the meal is complete. Staying seated shows respect for those who eat slower.
6. Clear Off the Table
Following the meal, everyone helps to clear off the table, sweep, and push in chairs.
Why Are Meal Expectations Important?
I’ve had moms tell me that they have given up trying to teach their children manners, work ethics, and to respect others during meal time.
Can I be blunt? Giving up is not an option that you have.
While the above meal rules center around eating, these expectations also teach character. Holding the child accountable to chew with their mouth closed teaches respect for other people. Waiting to eat until after praying and sitting while others finish eating teaches patience. Not walking around the table at home or in a restaurant teaches respect for those around you. Setting and cleaning off the table gives the child a work ethic.
Also, how your child behaves while eating at home is how they will behave in a restaurant. These expectations will help your child handle waiting for a meal and sitting quietly while in a crowd. The How to Survive Restaurants and Church with Wiggly Kids video below will explain further.
While I’ve had to drop the unrealistic dreams, I haven’t let go of the expectations. I still strive to teach our children table manners and respect. We continue to work on listening to others as they talk about their day. I still strive to create memories around the dinner table. The change is that I no longer expect it to happen every meal and without effort.
How about you? What meal expectations do you hold?
Is the Grand Canyon, Zion, or Bryce Canyon National Park on your bucket list? If so, check out last week’s Intro blog post on visiting theses amazing places and don’t miss next week’s post on Zion National Park. And if these places aren’t on your bucket list, check out last week’s post and see the amazing images. You might change your mind!