Brooke Reynolds’ Rules of Dinner

Brooke Reynolds, mother extraordinaire from the much-loved Inchmark blog, recently offered up her rules for family dinner over at Dinner A Love Story, and I was so inspired by her rules and her reasonings.

I don’t know about you, but dinner in our house usually goes something like this…  ‘Quin, take another bite…Ivy, eat your food……Easton, use your napkin, not your sleeve!….Ivy, scooch your chair in….Quin, eat your dinner!…Easton, clear your plate… etc.’ Dinner in our house is hardly a peaceful family time. In fact, I recently told my husband that it was my least favourite part of the day! I always feel like a broken record, saying the same thing over and over, constantly on edge and unable to enjoy that we’re all sitting around the table together.

After reading Brooke’s Ten Rules, I’m feeling inspired to make an effort. I love Rule No. 2 that ‘The Table is a Safe Place’ where only nice things are said (siblings don’t bicker, parents don’t lecture). I also like rule No. 8 to ‘Play High and Low’ where everyone tells the high and low point of their day. When I was growing up we did something similar: we all had to say one thing we did that day and one thing we learned. It made for interesting conversation! And lastly, I like rule No. 3 of ‘No Distractions’. Do you allow toys at the table? I need to be more strict about this — I find that toys are so distracting and give kids an excuse to zone out into ‘play time’ rather than family eating time.

Anyway, I’m feeling inspired. I’m going to try to make dinner a happy, more peaceful time in our house (fingers crossed!). What about you? Do you find dinner to be stressful? Do you have any other tips for making it more enjoyable? I would love to know!



Comments (10)

September 14, 2011

these are really inspiring! ill have to try one at a time. i am the absolute worst at kid meals, im a total pushover. they watch peppa pig and play play doh while they eat (and they usually only eat pasta or sausages). thanks courtney, it is good to know that there are other mums out there with the same meal time issues but there is still hope for me. 🙂 x

September 14, 2011

I agree with Courtney, I often hate meal times and as I love food, and love cooking this makes me so sad. I’m going to show the hubby these and we’ll see if they can help make our meals less stressful.

September 14, 2011

oh my, i think i’ve told you how dinner time is not fun for me! i actually start to hate the sound of my own voice, haha! (though i’ve found Izzy is doing better as the school lunches seem to help her be less picky and actually make it through her meals at a decent rate. her little brother on the other hand….)

i really love these rules. definite inspiration. thanks for sharing!

September 14, 2011

my latest battle with my 2+ year old son is having him not stuff his mouth and chew. so i hear my self always saying one at a time, eat slower, chew, chew and i think it makes him more into eating like a total pig. so i have tried to stop (really difficult!!)… we’ll see how that goes. thanks for sharing.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 14, 2011

I like these rules a lot — I think we use most of them instinctively already. We always eat as a family, sitting at the table, no TV, laptops, toys or books allowed. (my mum was always super strict about this, so it rubbed of on me, I think this is really important)!
And yes, we try talk about our day too, but I find the kids are usually tired, and they don’t really remember their day, so I really like your mum’s Did and Learn topic, or Brook’s High and Low.
I do think the ” Sara, take another bite…Ava, eat your food……Pim, use your napkin, not your sleeve!….Ava, scooch your chair in….Pim, eat your dinner!…Sara, clear your plate… etc.” is sort of un-avoidable until the kids are a little bit bigger… They are often tired — and need to learn their manners! But I agree — it’s soooooooo exhausting!!! xxx

Cat in Palma
September 14, 2011

I love Brooke’s rules, thanks for sharing. But between us parents, if any of you knows how to keep a 3.5 year-old at the table after she’s full (four bites, five on a good day) without bribes, threats, or physical restraint – please let me know!!!

September 15, 2011

We use these rules already but the one that we didn’t have while growing up was only say nice things at the table. I remember as a teenager hating dinner as I always seemed to be ambused by my family with questions and things I did not want to discuss. I will remember this for the future when my kids are teenagers. The other thing that we decided on that is also on here is only say nice things about the food. Its so annoying to have cooked a meal only to have your kids say ‘I don’t like it’. My daughter is always very good at saying its not something I really like but I will eat it anyway and my son 2 just says yuck! We have our work cut out with him.
I asked my daughter last night was her favourite part of the day was and her face lit up when she described how she payed with her dad when she got home from school and that was the highlight of her day. Thanks for the tip!

Courtney in London
September 15, 2011

After I published this post… I start thinking about our family situation. And I realized that we DO actually have breakfast every day together. We sit down to the table and eat a proper meal, all of us. Usually, it’s very pleasant (kids are well rested and are in good moods, they love breakfast foods so I don’t have to ask them to eat, and it all goes smoothly). So… at least we have ONE good family meal a day.
But in any case, I’m still going to try to make dinners more peaceful and enjoyable…

September 15, 2011

Thank you for sharing! We are all so busy in our lives it’s great to be reminded to savor every moment (and meal) with our minis! I’m going to post a lInk to your site in my Facebook & twitter sites;)

March 13, 2012

[…] and trying to keep three kids at the table until they finish their dinner is exhausting (remember this post?). I’m also not like Esther — I’m not super passionate about cooking. I mean, I […]

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