Relaxing at meal time? Not likely. But it can be fun. Just change your expectations!
I have accepted that meals with two kids under the age of four involves major cleaning, occasional screams and multiple trips to the kitchen for forgotten or desired items. By letting go of my previous meal experiences before kids (relaxed, leisurely, uninterrupted enjoyment of the food on my plate and lively conversation) and accepting a different experience, meals have become more fun for all of us. And, when I feel I’m losing patience (can I just have two bites in a row without getting up from my chair?) I try to remember that this time period will be over in the blink of an eye.
A long time ago I read somewhere that you should play music during a dinner party to help cover for any awkward silences and make the meal seem more party-like. I incorporate this into every meal – we all love listening to music and it sets the stage for a happier table.
When I’m alone with my kids I sometimes read a book to them. They love this and I love that they enjoy it. I learned this in the co-op preschool we go to – it keeps the kids amused, in their seats, and I think it possibly gets them to eat more of the food on their plate since they are enjoying the experience!
So the next time you have a meal with young kids, enjoy the chaos. Make it fun and remember that these moments are short and pretty soon your kids will be pouring their own milk and cleaning up after dinner!