With Dignity


With Dignity

Ladies, you have such an eye for detail. Add meaning, warmth, and a personal touch to mealtime. Details make a difference. They show we care. Restaurants take great care to create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere to ensure customer satisfaction and ultimately revenue. Your motivation is a higher one—-love for the members of your family.

Family meals are an important time to develop strong family bonds. build traditions and pass on values on a daily basis. Work towards setting an enjoyable tone and style to your meal that underlines the inherent worth and dignity of your family members. Your particular approach will concretely show your family that you care and they are worth it. No one expects you to be super mom. Every age and stage of family life have its own challenges and developments. A new mom will be happy to just to get a meal on the table. A veteran mom of many will have a different level of approach. The key is to work on one goal at a time and add on over the years when you are ready.  Listen to your pulse and add on when you are able to.

Over time, you will create a wealth of wonderful memories. Your children will clue in more over time to what you bring, but the youngsters do sense if you’re uptight and drained. So take care of yourself to have gas in your tank so you can bring a smile to the table.  That’s what really matters. Not the “perfection” of the event.  Learning to rock and roll with what happens at meal times and create a warm family atmosphere makes a big difference. Your ways of being at this ritual will be remembered by your children long after they’ve left home.

  • To calm the frenzy of late afternoon meal prep, see what you can cook up earlier in the day. I like to already start making the main course during or after breakfast to get it out of the way. I even make a side dish at lunch time if I can. That way I only whip up a salad at supper time when I’m feeling most drained. See what works for your schedule and be creative in finding alternative approaches to increase your sanity and energy later in the day.
  • Consider taking a few minutes rest before you start whizzing around. Lie on the couch, or step outside to feel the breeze and hear the birds. We need to get our cortisol levels down a bit before we enter the “witching hour” of supper. Know  you and everyone feels a bit drained.
  • Take a few minutes before you begin your meal prep to freshen your makeup, and run a brush through your hair. You work so hard to pull it all off. Take time to look good and feel good. You are an amazing mom, you deserve to look terrific for yourself and those dearest to you.
  • Encourage everyone to leave their cellphones in another room so that no one is distracted.
  • Make sure the computer and television are not being used at meal time so that everyone can focus on being fully together.
  • Start your meals by thanking God for your food and family.
  • Use nice serving platters rather than scooping out from pots, pans or takeout containers to give a touch of refinement.
  • When in survival mode, have an array of frozen meals handy or learn when your grocery store marks their pre-made meals half price so your freezer gives immediate options.
  • You don’t need a lot of money to make meals look terrific. Offer a variety of delicious menus over time and be on the look-out for great new recipes. You really want to make your husband happy with your cooking. Remember the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Do please your husband by your menu and don’t always cater to kids foods. Widen their palate and provide a side dish you know they’ll eat.
  • Have an eye for color and presentation. Serve your food in appealing ways (i.e. Thin slices of tomatoes on top of a cheese casserole, with a few sprigs of parsley). Look at magazines and restaurants for simple ideas on presentation.
  • Plan your menu so that the colors of food on the plate compliment and vitalize each other (i.e. green, orange, white, brown) Try a new recipe each month.
  • Encourage your older kids to serve the others and have everyone wait till all are seated before eating.
  • Set the example and gently insist on good table manners, ie. please, thank you, may I be excused, sitting properly etc. I often use hand signs to indicate my wishes, rather than always verbally correcting. For example, finger pointing down means feet down; pinching my lips means to eat with your mouth closed, tapping the plate of my slow-eater to get her going etc. Moms should not make meal-time a series of corrections. Focus on the positive more than the negative.
  • Consider using place-mats from time to time, especially ones with meaningful pictures for the little children.
  • Maybe use a tablecloth. When you have small children, consider buying a see-through plastic sheet from the fabric section of a store to protect your tablecloth.
  • Eat by candlelight once in a while. It’s a great way to mark special occasions, anniversaries, etc.
  • Place flowers or center pieces on the table from time to time. They can be fresh or artificial.
  • Listen to soft, classical music while you eat. This helps especially when the kids are young and boisterous for you to have something positive to focus on.  It also decreases your cortisol levels.
  • Use good dishes and glasses on Sundays and special occasions. Don’t always use plastic. (Make sure you don’t microwave with plastic. Health care professionals warn against all plastics in the microwave since cancer-causing chemicals are released onto the foods.) Teach your children how to use nice things properly.
  • Provide napkins (either washable or disposable) from time to time (i.e. Sundays) and teach children how to use them. Older children will enjoy the many ways napkins can be arranged in a glass, wine goblet or on a plate. Go ahead and teach them how.
  • Learn how to make some amazing desserts and save them for special occasions, ie. Sundays, anniversaries, birthdays, special visitors. So often this finale ensures the success of the get-together. Start with simple, quick recipes and strive to develop your repertoire over the years.
  • Finally, don’t walk away disheartened because of all the chaos of the meal and the antics of your kids. Just the fact that you all sat together, ate together and talked a bit, puts your family one step closer to being stronger and healthier. Research proves that eating together as a family is critical to personal and family well-being. Each meal is one step ahead for all of you. Eventually, your kids will get older and you can have better conversations, behavior, and enjoyment. But it starts with the craziness of today and your conscious effort to make family meal time a positive experience. Hang in there. The results are around the corner.



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