I know that having family meals are important - kids openly sharing about their days while politely passing the vegetables. Children compliantly and gratefully eating the delicious and healthy dinner that mom has spent hours preparing. Toddlers carefully eating over their plates as not to spill. No one asking mom for "the ranch dressing, a new fork, a drink, another napkin, salt . . ." as soon as she finally sits down in an attempt to eat before everyone else is done. Parents gazing at one another longingly as they have missed each other throughout their day. Well-adjusted offspring exchanging giggles and chewing with their mouths closed. Supporting comments taken in turn as all family members listen intently to whoever it is who is talking. Highlights and lowlights - sharing them one at a time with no interruption or loud voices. Bible verses being to applied to life lessons that have occurred during recess, at work, or in the carpool lane. You know, typical meals around the table with the family? They are said to help cement the family relationships.
Here's the thing - I do think family meal time is important. I actually do think sitting down together for a meal together is awesome and valuable to the family. Sometimes. Not every day. Not every meal. Because at this stage in the game (with a 9 year-old boy, 6 1/2 year-old girl, and 4 1/2 year-old girl) our family meals are a little less peaceful than the aforementioned meal scenario. Maybe that will change with age, maybe we are just failing as parents . . . but for now I have discovered a golden parenting gem. One that I have never read about in the parenting books or blogs. And for zero dollars I would like to share it with you. Something that has worked for us . . .
I've been bringing Elijah breakfast in bed on some school mornings. He is not a morning person. He has a hard time getting out of bed. He has a hard time not being grumpy at the breakfast table. And then breakfast becomes a time for grumpy interaction between the three kids. "He's not chewing with his mouth closed! I was looking at that cereal box! Stop looking at me. Stop making noise when you chew! Stop annoying me." Then I just want to crawl into a hole and rock myself to sleep wondering Where have I gone wrong? Am I the worst mom ever? Why can't my kids get along?
It's not a great start to the day for any of us.
So now a few mornings a week I bring Elijah some warm milk with vanilla and honey. And he loves it. And he actually wakes up without me sitting on him or spitting in his face. (Relax, that's a joke.) Then I bring him oatmeal. And he reads, eats, and relaxes. With the animals and a book. (He loves the Action Bible). Then he emerges and gets ready for school. And he feels old and cool and special. And there is less chaos at the breakfast table.
How are your family meal times? Have you discovered any special tricks besides banishing a kid from the kitchen table that helps bring peace and harmony to the meal times?