Here are a few of my secrets that make dinnertime happen with a family of 8... go ahead and reduce or multiply the fraction to adjust for your size family... step number one is pray.. just pray you make it through the day. I've been able to make it through 14 years on this principal alone!
- Plan your menu: I do 2 weeks and solely plan it around sales adds and seasonal garden items. With our size family... every penny goes toward another gallon of milk. ... more to come on meal planning in the future. Head over to Jen's for inspiration. She's fabulous.
- 10 o'clock rule: Know what I'm fixing for dinner by 10pm the night before or 10am the day of. This helps especially for thawing meat, gathering supplies and ingredients and making sure dinner's served on time.
- Everyone Helps: Every kid has a dinnertime related job. I know this can be more hassle than it seems worth the effort. I began this when my oldest was 4 and I can turn my kids loose to fix a family meal now by the time they're 10... ladies, it pays off big time! This is also a great one on one instruction time with your kids. Job ideas can be dinner prep, set table, unload dishwasher, clean-up... pick what works for you.
- Use Nice Dishes: Okay, since the hubby man has been is school I've slacked. BUT, now we're back to normal again (today's his last day) and even the 3 year old gets a glass dish and cup. This is my effort to bring a little refinement into the home (for where else would they learn it?) and encourage good manners.
- ROTATE: My kids are all assigned a birthright number... we use it often. Too many fights over who was sitting next to mom or dad inspired this idea. We have assigned seating that rotates each month. Mom and Dad stay fixed and the kids all move down one chair at the beginning of the month... (it works like a dream in car seating as well!).
- Everyone Cleans Up: We have a rule: Grab your plate and 3 thing and put them away. Generally, this works... getting them into the dishwasher without salad all over the floor is another post. With all 8 working to load the dishwasher, clean up, sweep, and put food away we're all free to enjoy our evening together sooner.
Oh, and I didn't include it in the bullets but, sometimes it's better to wait and sweep the peas and rice up the next day... I hate a dirty floor but those dang peas mush and the rice sticks to the broom... the morning after everything walks itself into the dustpan. HONEST!!
FYI- If you already have the Christmas Story Leg Lamp, you may want to include the Leg Table in your collection... all the things you could create with that extra time you made by getting organized..
How do you manage the dinnertime game at your house?
Photos:bhg, flickr... you can tell the difference right?