How to Make Meal Time With Your Kids Less Stressful
In an ideal world you would cook a delicious meal for you and your family to enjoy and when the food was ready, everyone would sit at their respective place at your dinner table. The mealtime would be a calm and fun experience, and everyone would eat their meals without complaint.
But let's face it, real life is not always the same as an ideal world, and family mealtimes are no exception.
Photo Source: Pexels Anna Shvets
Why Are Mealtimes So Stressful?
Many parents have to fight a small battle just to get their kids sit down and have a few bites of healthy food without having meltdowns. Mealtimes can unfortunately be one of the most stressful parts of the parenting experience.
Some children are fussy eaters, and it’s made more challenging when they decide they don’t want to eat certain foods that you know they used to enjoy. When you feel devoid of energy it’s often easy just to give up and give in to your childrens' demands for unhealthy food (no judgement here 😄).
If you’re the parent of a young toddler, we've got news; as kids' tastes develop they don't always stop being fussy eaters! You can try all kinds of tactics from bribery to banning TV time without success. Still your kids just get upset.
When you talk with other parents, you’ll undoubtedly find some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone with your mealtime meltdowns. Parents will often share their horror stories with you, and some might even seem extraordinary compared to yours. So what can we try to make mealtimes a little more enjoyable for everyone involved?
What Are the Secrets to Stress-Free Mealtimes?
By now, you’re probably wondering whether you’ll just have to get used to several more years of stressful family mealtimes. The good news is there are some handy tips and tricks you can follow to make life easier for yourself. Check out the following mealtime parenting hacks; you’ll likely come across some
inspirational ideas that will work wonders in your household:
1. Have a Fixed Mealtime Routine
All children, even babies, need routines, and that includes having fixed mealtime routines. It makes sense to set mealtimes at specific times so kids can get used to when they will get main meals. If you’re looking for tips on how to make feeding a toddler easy, this is arguably one of the most important ones.
We love the idea of grooming younger children for mealtime with a healthy snack. A snack? Before mealtime? You bet, making a personal plate of fresh veggies and dips a pre-meal routine, helps get some nutrients into small tummies before you serve your actual meal. It's also gives partents more of a chance to relax without keeping kiddos hungry and waiting for food.
2. Give Your Kids a Five-Minute Mealtime Warning
If you want to know how to feed a toddler or younger child without making the experience a nightmare, another top tip is to give them a five-minute warning before you serve their food on the dinner table. By doing this they’ll know they'll need to wrap up their current activities and get ready to have a meal.
3. Create a Transition to Timetable
Try easing children into a family mealtime by creating a transition to timetable. An activity tha involves getting ready to eat. For example, you can ask them to wash their hands before sitting down and explain to them the importance of good hygiene.You could even use the pre-meal time to work with your kids by helping them set the table. Even little ones can lay out napkins.
4. Always Eat at Your Dinner Table
If you’ve got a dinner table, make sure you incorporate that into your mealtime routines and always sit at it to eat your meals with your kids. Not only is it a good idea for setting up routines, but it also makes your life easier if you’re
figuring out how to feed a baby without them causing a food explosion in the immediate area 🙃 The table creates a family space for shared time and expereince.
5. Don’t Force Your Children to Eat
When you try to make your kids eat their food, it can cause the opposite to happen, along with lots of stress, frustration, and anger for everyone. Do yourself a favour and don’t force your children to eat their food. It gives them the option to “explore” what’s on their plate in their own time.
Plus, if you're worried about them not eating, a great trick is to add one or two items you know they’ll definitely eat, it means they won’t go hungry if they’re refusing to try anything else.
6. Establish Some Dinner Table Rules
Lastly, you should set some dinner table rules. For example, you could say it’s okay to explore food with their fingers, but it’s not okay to spit their food out onto their plates or even on the floor. Have them ask to leave the table if they're talking or create a fun expereince with your family until everyone is finished.
Parenting young children is never an easy job. But, the above ideas will give you some inspiration to make mealtimes with them less stressful and even enjoyable for everyone involved.