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Stress Free Family Holiday Dinners

On a regular work night, dinner time with young children can be anything but stress free. ‘Sit down!’ ‘Eat your food!’ ‘Stop licking the table!’ ‘Get the green bean out of your nose!’ We’ve all been there…

We all dream of a relaxed family dinner – especially around the holidays!

So, what can we do to destress those family holiday dinners and turn our chaos into cheer?

Here are some tips and tricks for parents for the upcoming holiday season!

It’s always a good idea to do some pre-planning, but don’t over plan and don’t make it harder on yourself by preparing a wide variety of fancy dishes. Not everyone likes Polenta Stuffing, but they’ll likely eat every last bit of fuss-free, easy dishes, like mashed potatoes, corn and hot rolls with butter. I bet the adults at the table will enjoy those items just as much. Everyone loves and appreciates simple, nostalgic comfort food. Make a meal of it and leave the more sophisticated recipes for another time.

Get everyone involved! Let everyone contribute and share in the excitement. Teach the kids a simple recipe. Put them in “charge” of a dish. Imagine their excitement when everyone digs in and tells them how delicious their food is. Preschoolers can tear lettuce leaves, stir batter, fill deviled eggs and set the timer; school-age kids can scrub potatoes, measure out ingredients and ice the cake. Everyone can carry forks and spoons to the table, set each place setting and pass items during dinner.

Unplug. Turn off the phones, TV’s and close your laptop. Put on some nice quiet music. Give your full attention to your family and the feast in front of you. Take in the moment. Express gratitude. Hold hands. Saying thanks every day is a positive habit to instill at any age. Holding hands creates a connection with your family around the table.

Remember why you are doing this. Slow down and enjoy the time instead of rushing around. Keep in mind that children look to us for how to act in situations. If you are stressed, chances are, they will be stressed too.

Cleanup. Make this a fun family memory. In our house, we dance, sing and clean together. It makes the task less tedious and boring. And there are always lots of laughs.

How nice would it be if our children remembered family meals as positive, happy and laughter-filled memories?