There are so many ways to show your child that they are loved and mealtimes are a great chance to do that. Using your creativity to show your love can provide your kids with wonderful memories that they can cherish into adulthood. Here are a few ideas to get you started..
1. Own a Special plate. My mom had this cool plate for us while we were growing up and I loved it. We got the privilege of using the special plate whenever we did something good (good grade, birthday, or just for the heck of it!) I always love this tradition and use it with my family now. You can buy it online http://www.redplatestore.com/ or make your own at a pottery store.
2. Make Special Dinners Part of your Weekly Schedule. I would love to say that my family eats at the table every night but that would be a lie. It's not something we do at this point in time but but having a family dinner one night a week (Sunday is always a good day) is a great way to show family values are a priority in your family. Picking a certain day and sticking to it allows your kids to know when to expect it and even get excited about it.
3. Engage Children in the Process. If you plan ahead, you can ask your kids to pick a meal and help you get the ingredients at the grocery store (and even help you stir or pour ingredients into the bowls). Another idea? Children of all ages seem to love making Place cards for other family members (or guests). Set your child up with materials to make place cards while you get dinner ready.
4. Theme Night. Pick a country such as Italy or Mexico and make a recipe from that county (don't worry-tacos or pizza is creative enough!) Bonus: Find a new word from that country and use it while you are having dinner!
5. Question game. This is something you can do every night. Get your kids talking by asking what is their least favorite part of their day and best part of their day.
Although all of these ideas are fun, the important thing is just being together. Remember, your kids (especially teenagers) might complain "UGH! family dinner is ridiculous!" but years from now they will look back with a smile and remember those special moments with family!