Time is the one thing I think we all feel a lack of as parents, I know that I certainly do. Sometimes finding quality time with my children can be challenging, especially when they often both want a piece of me at the same time. As a family we are time starved but preparing and eating meals together feeds the soul and nurtures connection.
I think we are all aware that eating together as a family is important. But sometimes mealtimes can be super stressful, especially if you have younger children or picky eaters.
I don’t call my children to the kitchen to eat, I call them to the kitchen to help prepare our meals.
I use preparation time as family time. It is a time to connect, laugh, chat or even dance. Both of my boys have been in the kitchen with me since they were babes in arms. I love how some of our most intimate conversations have come about as they are concentrating on chopping vegetables or learning a new skill.
I adore the fact that we can laugh and joke as we put away the condiments or stack the dishwasher and, even better, that my boys are learning great skills and that they enjoy it too.
Making the most of this time with your family
- Set realistic expectations. Toddlers can set the table and even help with washing vegetables. As babies, both the boys often used to just sit with a pan and spoon when I was cooking.
- Don’t make time an issue – you can sabotage the family part of preparing and cooking together if time is an issue, so try and allow plenty of time, or of you are feeling stressed then do it on your own that day.
- Sometimes just involving one child can made for great one to one time. Although I do also have some tips on cooking with siblings.
- Tiredness – yours or theirs often makes for a fractious time. Again, it helps to recognise this and make allowances.
- Don’t feel limited to dinner time. If you have commitments and are time poor and dinners just do not work for you, then why not think about breakfasts or a regular weekend brunch.
I love that the time I have invested in preparing meals with the boys is starting to pay dividends, both are proficient in the kitchen and can prepare fabulous meals, where often I am just sous chef and onion chopper!
Including them in the kitchen has empowered them so much and I have learned that by including them in food preparation they are more likely to try new food, which means overall our family mealtimes are much more relaxed.
For more about connecting with children during mealtimes, check out;
About Jen: Jen Walshaw writes the UK’s #1 parenting blog Mum in the Mad House, is passionate about crafting and cooking, and can often be found in the kitchen with her boys. When not up to her eyes in flour or paint, she can be found writing about trying to live a creative family life in the digital age. Why not follow her on Instagram to see behind the scenes of the Mad House or on Facebook.