With a quarantine in progress across many parts of the world, now is a perfect opportunity to encourage kids to be of service at home (they might disagree, but stay with me here).
We often think of service as action we take for others outside of our immediate families, but simple tasks, like feeding the dog, sweeping up and clearing the dishes – what many of us refer to as chores – are also about serving others. Rather than community members or people in need halfway across the world, kids can help by contributing to daily life in their very own homes.
Unfortunately, the word chore carries a lot of negative baggage. I know my kids groan whenever I remind them to do their chores and I wonder if it’s even worth asking them to help out. The answer to that question is “yes.” Research shows that kids who do chores are more successful, happier adults. By teaching our kids to share in everyday responsibilities, we’re helping them build the skills they need to feel a sense of responsibility in other parts of the lives.
One simple, fun way to engage children is by including them in the planning and prep of family dinner. From brainstorming about the meal to prepping and cooking to getting creative around table décor to clean up, kids actually appreciate being part of the process. Giving them responsibility lets them know their input and help is valued. They also learn that caring for one another by taking on household tasks is as important as any other service work.
Make It Mindful
Creating a peaceful space at home is so critical, especially now. Designating dinner as a time when family comes together, leaving the distractions of the day behind is one way to establish boundaries between work and school and family and downtime. Here are a few ways you can mindfully and intentionally set dinner time apart from the rest of the day:
- Keep the dining space just for eating by clearing away books or other items
- Light a candle together before sitting down
- Decorate your table with flowers (live or paper) or other calming objects
- Play a soothing, instrumental playlist
Make It Fun
There’s a Mindful Little in each of us just waiting to come out and play. Here are a few ways to make meal time a little more entertaining for the kids and for you:
- Give the kids a few ingredients that work together and have them create each dish however they like – salad, main dish, side dish, dessert. It might not be exactly what you had planned, but go with it!
- Have the kids name your “restaurant,” create names for different dishes and make menus
- Ask the kids to make place cards for everyone and change up where people usually sit
- Declare one night a week as Formal Dinner Night and come to the table dressed up in gowns, crowns, suits and ties
Being home together under the current circumstances can be stressful. We hope you find a little peace in making dinner time a sacred time to work together and enjoy each other.