Is it a universal fact of life in homes with small children that the pre-dinner hour is a difficult time of the day? Maybe the most difficult time of the day?
My mom talks about how nice it was that Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street came on during dinner prep time when my siblings and I were young. The only problem was that the one child who had just dropped his or her afternoon nap just might fall asleep while Mr. Rogers quietly fed his fish.
While we definitely make use of a pre-dinner Signing Time DVD or a few minutes with a Netflix Pink Panther cartoon, we've also come up with another strategy that helps get dinner on the table.
I am apparently at my most creative while I'm scrambling to make dinner for our hungry crew and so I call this new tool "Chair Time".
Participants in Chair Time include the 3 youngest members of the family. And me. The older two are either setting the table or able to entertain themselves elsewhere.
And this is how we do it:
Each little person sits on a chair in the kitchen.
They are close enough to me to get a sniff or a taste of what we're making for dinner.
They can sing songs, practice catechism, watch my eyes tear up as I chop onions, take turns cutting biscuits at the counter, work on a memory verse.
But they can't touch each other! Or get off of their chairs without permission.
It takes some initial training for them to stay on their chairs but it seems that is part of the beauty of it. They need to learn to sit and stay anyway.
It's like killing 7or 8 birds with one stone.
I like that.