Yes, getting everyone in the family involved in preparing meals and clearing away the table IS possible… Spice up your daily dinner routine to make it a rewarding moment shared with your loved ones. Here is how.
Begin new family rituals
Starting a new habit in the family can be challenging. If possible, start when the children are small, that is when they love to be involved in adult activities, whatever they may be. As children get older, they may start to whine when asked to participate.
Be ready and build a positive speech for your children, such as “I would feel a very lucky parent if you started to…”. Present it as a two-side cooperation, asking for their input and suggestions so they feel involved. You could draw a chart and fix it on the fridge, showing everyone’s name and days of the week, assigning chores on a voluntary basis and according to abilities and personal schedules. If there are several children in your home, assigning days for table setting and clearing will make them feel they have relaxing days “off” the rest of the time.
Adapt tasks to the children’s age
- 3-5 year olds can set out plates, utensils and napkins you’ve counted out. Once they have finished dinner, encourage them to take their dirty plate off the table.
- As they get older, kids can count and set out tableware themselves, and load the dishwasher after proper scrapping.
- Pre-teens and teens can prepare the full table with salt, pepper and drinks. Just tell them what type of food there will be, as you may need soup or desert plates, so they can adjust table setting accordingly and feel entirely responsible of their chore. When they know their way around the kitchen, they can help unload the dishwasher and put away the dishes.
Make sure to compliment everyone each time they pass a new step so they get a positive feeling out of their participation. Add small daily rewards, such as a smile and a thank you. By setting an example, you’ll soon be thanked more often in return.
Take the bore out of the chore
Here are extra ways to introduce more fun in daily chores:
- Play music and dance while you do dishes
- Have a group sing along while setting or clearing the table
- Ask family members, each in his or her turn, to bring a favourite song every day which you can listen to while you prepare for your meal
- Create an assembly line from the table to the sink and another from the table to the fridge. Everyone stands in place and passes dishes until the table is cleared.
This is how new family rituals begin, and remember, it’s never too late to establish a new tradition worth handing down!