We all know we're supposed to "parent with presence," but anyone who has to prepare dinner while keeping a little one away from the stove and answering 20 questions about dinosaurs knows that it's almost impossible. And then there's the 10 minutes you spend trying to get them to eat a carrot — not the most namaste situation.
We asked members of the Kitchn team to share their strategies for staying mindful while enjoying dinner with their kids, and the answers (like children) were each unique, ranging from eating on the floor to cooking with kids and having a ready-to-eat dinner (like a pre-made Nurture Life meal) on hand.
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1. Feast on the floor.
"With two extra-little ones (two years and nine months), I like to dispense with the dinner table altogether and do meals on the floor. My husband and I plop down in the playroom with bowls and forks and eat dinner at kid-level. (A good mat is nice for this — we love the pretty, easy-clean Gathre mats.) The ever-greedy baby tries to hijack my food, and the toddler feels like we are present with her as she plays. A lightweight cocktail doesn't hurt, too!" —Faith, Editor-in-Chief of Kitchn
2. Take time for breakfast.
"While meals together are important, they don't have to be dinner. We love breakfasts together with our toddler son. He's most hungry and most fun first thing in the morning." —Chris, Marketing
3. Prep your tool kit.
We all have days when we're just too tired to make a meal, and the key to getting through them is having a nutritious meal at the ready that you'll feel good feeding your kids. Nurture Life provides exactly that service, specializing in meal plans based on a child's age (whether a baby, toddler, or kid) and nutritional needs at that age. The ready-to-eat meals are shipped fresh (not frozen) on a subscription basis, and they give you the ability to customize which meals you want and how often you receive them. They handle the food, so you can focus on your kids.
New customers save $30 with code KITCHN
4. Play with words.
"With a chatterbox first-grader and a wiggle-worm four-year-old, most of my meals are spent creating word games that keep them both engaged. Our go-to is to pick a letter from the alphabet and do a round robin to see who can come up with the most unique words. Many dinners are focused on who can find the funniest 'P' word instead of how much broccoli everyone eats." —Meghan, Associate Food Editor
5. Listen up and lighten up.
"To stay emotionally present at dinner with my three-year-old after a full day of work, I let him lead the conversation. It takes the pressure off me to be stimulating enough for him, plus he enjoys being able to talk about whatever's on his mind. Three-year-olds are funny and often go on the craziest tangents, so it's a fun way to hear about his day." —Alyse, Sales
6. Have a game plan.
"When we sit down to family dinner with our twelve-year-old, it's some of our best (and only) quality time during the week. No devices are allowed, though exceptions can be agreed upon unanimously for crucial conversation points like resolving how many women have walked on the moon (answer: zero). On weekends, we sometimes dispense with the chit-chat and eat around a board game — it's a wild and crazy Saturday night! I just want her to stay interested in hanging out with us as long as possible."—Anna, Creative Studio
7. Enlist a sous chef.
"I always have the best luck getting my four-year-old son to eat his dinner when he's the one who made it. We stay away from the stove, but he loves to pull rosemary leaves from the stem. He's also great at helping whisk a homemade salad dressing from oil and vinegar — his favorite part is adding a pinch of salt. There are spills sometimes (okay, a lot) but it's worth it to watch him make something and take pride in it." —Sarah, Writer
Quality food shouldn't take away from quality time. Learn more about Nurture Life. Plus, new customers can use the code KITCHN to save $30.
This post was created by the Kitchn Creative Studio and is sponsored by Nurture Life.
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