I think I've been asking mealtime questions on here since dd was 4. She's now almost 7. **Sigh**
My problem isn't that I have picky eaters. I am very blessed to have children who pretty much eat whatever is served to them. Our problem lies in the actual eating of the meal...they like to talk and play too much at the table to actually eat. So, hubby and I will be finished with our dinner and the kids still have full plates. We try really hard to give everyone a time to share about their day and talk at the table because we recognize that this should be a good time of fellowship for the family. My children haven't figured out how to talk and eat at the same time.
So dh and I find ourselves nagging, "Ok, it's time to eat now." "Please stop talking and eat your food." "Your plate has been sitting there for a long time and you haven't even touched it because you've been talking." We eventually end up telling them that they aren't allowed to talk for the remainder of the meal. This happens almost every evening. I feel like dh and I set a good example of leisurely talking spaced between bites of food.
Also, silliness and playing has always been a problem. Many of you may disagree, but we do not feel that the family meal times, especially when Daddy is home, should be a place for silliness. Laughter and good conversation, absolutely. But nonsense just makes me furious, especially when it's the first time I've gotten to see my husband all day. And instead of us enjoying him, we are having to referee children. It's frustrating!
I remember family meals being a very pleasant time growing up. I don't ever remember my parents having to tell us to stop talking and eat. I know we never played at the table, or we would've gotten back-handed (not really, but almost!). I just don't see how dh and I 'missed it'. Why has this become such a struggle for us for so long? And, more importantly, how do we find a balance between all-talk-no-eat and no-talking-just-eat?
Yes, we have taken plates away and excused disobedient children from the table without eating at all. Yes, we have tried enforcing the natural consequence of you-don't-eat-now-then-you-won't-eat-later. Yes, we've set a timer, but that seems so restricting and strange to us. Any other ideas?
We have very obedient, well-behaved kids. They are learning new habits all the time. This is the one area, however, that we can't seem to find a happy place...