Today I had one of those mom moments. I was arranging lunch for my 2 older children, who are 2 and 4. I had the cute Re-Play plates, matching cups, and napkins laid out on the table. I cut their hot dogs and assembled grapes and mac ‘n’ cheese on their plates and greeted them with a smile. Then, it happened. They didn’t eat but more than maybe 3 bites each of their delicious lunch that I prepared all while holding their baby sister. I became frustrated and then turned it into humor and started singing a song about cooking for kids who don’t eat my food.
So how do we as moms avoid these moments and create fun at the table for our kids.
I think it’s important to get your kids involved in what they eat. Allow them to help you cook. My daughter loves to bake. Today, we made cute bunny sugar cookies. Find new recipes to make together. It doesn’t have to be hard. Check out Pinterest and make it a family activity. Teach your littles about the kitchen and where things go. You will be happy you did this when they start helping put away dishes from the dishwasher!
Try to keep things simple but switch it up from time to time. My kids love peanut butter sandwiches, and while they do eat them often, it’s not something I want them eating every day.
I am honestly a little embarrassed that I never do anything cute at the dinner table for my kids. This is something I would like to do more often. It can be easy! Here are some ideas:
- Make a star with fresh veggies! Use asparagus as the points and fill in the middle with whatever your kids like. For us, that’s carrots and celery. Use ranch dressing as an outliner.
- Make a little mouse out of a hard boiled egg! Use a carrot for a nose and celery for a tail. Try chocolate chips for the eyes.
- Cookie cutters are easy and can be used to make fun shapes out of everyday meals like peanut butter sandwiches.
- Keep food mini size for little hands. This makes it not as overwhelming or weird for a toddler.
There are so many great ideas for how to be creative at the table. What fun ideas have you tried, mommas?
Teach & Make a Memory!
I think mealtime is a great time to connect with your kids. Even though they may be little toddlers, they can still use this time to talk to mommy and share stories. Make memories. Play a game at the table. My kids love a game called the quiet game. Whoever talks first is the first out. We also use meal times to give thanks for what we have. As your kids grow, use meal times to teach about nutrition and how food gives our bodies energy.
So mealtime can be fun with toddlers, even though the clean-up is sometimes rough. Next time my kids don’t eat their perfectly arranged lunches, I am going to smile and shake it off. There’s always tomorrow and always snack time.
Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of three in Arkansas who loves to plan her weekly meals.