Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monthly Family Candlelight Dinner

There are mealtimes where I feel like I live in a barn.  With animals.  Messy animals.  Loud animals.  I love these animals, but who wants to feel like you are eating at a trough?  Having four kids equals a lot of fun and a lot of love, but dinner with them can be an exercise in patience. 

A few years ago we started having a monthly candlelight dinner to work on manners and to change things up.  The meal isn't that fancy, and sometimes the kids help plan it.  They always plan a fun dessert.  Cloth napkins are used around here on a regular basis because they work great for the big spills we have - nightly. I'm serious: if I cried over spilled milk, I'd cry almost daily.  I let it go a long time ago.  I don't think big kids should use cups with lids - I'd rather them keep practicing, even if it means some spills.

When the kids set the table for this dinner, they found these fun leaf paper napkins. I use almost all plastic dishes now so my one and three-year-olds can set the table without the possibility of getting cut on glass.  All the kids set the table and carry their dishes to the sink.  My two oldest kids get to put away the food from dinner, scrub the table, and clean the floor under the table. 

We usually have at least three dishes of food (mostly in plastic containers) that the kids get to pass around.  We turn all the lights out and just use two candles.  It's amazing how much softer kids talk when the lights go out.  Even my four rowdy kids lower their voices.  Amen to that.  Amazing.  Sometimes we play soft music; sometimes we just enjoy the quiet.

A few months ago we hung a manners poster on the wall beside our table (click here for that post).  The kids have it memorized and now remind each other of the rules, which is nice, because we can't see it during the candlelight dinners. 

"It is better to light a candle
than curse the darkness."
(Eleanor Roosevelt) 


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