Candlelight Manners Dinner
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Dare I give you a glimpse of what our family dinnertime looked like? It was pretty scary. While we do make sure to all eat together most nights of the week, it was not a relaxing or enriching experience- at least for me!
First, it started with the howling fight of how everyone wants to sit by Dad. Our weekly family award to pick where they sit at the table really helped, but it seems nothing is fool proof and there is still a degree of fussing from the little ones over where they end up.
Next came the crying of everyone whining they are hungry and us hurrying to say the prayer. And then when they hear what's for dinner there are jubilant shouts from some and moaning and groaning from others. Or I'm grabbing the last bit of dinner to bring over to the table, and the kids are impatient. Or sometimes it's the complete opposite and it's like pulling teeth to pull the kids away from their activities to come to the table at all.
After the meal had begun, the baby always seemed to get fussy, so I was either holding him on my lap, feeding him in his high chair or nursing him on the couch- not eating at all with the family. Once I leave the table, it's even more chaotic. Kids would leave their seats to run off to who knows where.
And even when the baby was calm, don't even get me started on the ridiculous conversations about bodily fluids or loud and obnoxious singing by one or many of the children, which then led to a lot of complaining and fighting.
I'd had enough!!
I decided to go back in time to try something we hadn't done since the kids were tiny. It was a tradition we started and it fizzled within a week. But our family has grown up so much since then. My kids are about 8 years older (4 of them were not even born yet last time- whoa!!), they are great about holding me to traditions now, and we were in desperation!!
So here what we do:
We went back to candlelight. My grandmother had a candle light dinner every night. We loved being invited over as a special guest to her house because we knew we could be the ones to snuff out the candle (Maybe I need to buy a candle snuffer?). After dinner whoever has the best manners is going to be able to blow out the candles when everyone is finished with their meal.
Also, to help with our conversation, I got out this little box of questions one of my dear friends gave me as a gift years and years ago. I still had it up in the cupboard, and my kids are definitely at the ages where we could get some great discussions going.
This little tradition has really helped our kids have better manners and remember what is expected of them in a fun way. Though, sometimes blowing out the candles gets a little crazy- manners are out the window by that time. But it sure is fun and has built some great family memories.