Dishing It Out

Monday Night Tea Party

Around here, my kiddos can not only dish it out, but they can eat it!

Actually, Daddy does most of the dishing out (or Mommy if Daddy isn’t home).  We used to dish out all the food and THEN pray.  This was our answer to keeping the toddler from losing his cool, but we really wanted even the toddler to participate in prayers.  However, with food sitting in front of him, there was no way he was NOT going to eat.  In fact, there was no way pretty much anyone at the table was not going to want at least a nibble prior to {or during} prayers.  So, that was a bust.

It wasn’t long after this, I begged an older, wiser, more child rich mama than I to give me her secrets to a successful meal timeHer advice was to pray first, then dish out from youngest to oldest. So, here’s a little taste {get it?!} of meal time around here…

Food is prepared and the dinner bell is rung.  Everyone races to the table {with Micah, my 21 month old, hollering “EAT!” all the way!}  They find the spot with their colored cup as food is brought to the table.  All of the food is placed near Daddy {or Mommy}.  Someone asks blessing {this rotates}.  As soon as Amen is said, little Micah {who knows he is first in line for food} hands his plate down to be filled.  {If Dad is home, he and I work together to fill plates; otherwise, I do it on my own.}  Next is the 4 year old, then the 6 year old and on up…

Now what about the issue of second helpings? I don’t know that I have any real great system for this, but right now, the olders usually get their own seconds because if they are getting seconds it means their plates are empty.  However, the littles are another story.  Quite often, they ask for seconds with only one thing gone from their plates.  Around here, you don’t get seconds unless you have tasted everything on your plate and eaten a considerable amount of whatever dish had the most protein in it.

I do not require they eat everything in order to get dessert or be excused from the table. I just don’t get that rule.  I would much rather they learn to eat in moderation than to stuff themselves in order to eat some more.

So, that’s how we dish it out around here…how about you?

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14 thoughts on “Dishing It Out

  1. I usually prepare the toddlers place and leave it on the counter (so that they will have food an appropriate temperature, no too hot), call everybody in, sit down pray then give my husband his pate and then the toddlers and then serve myself.

    I serve everybody, they do not choose what is on their plate but do have to eat it :-)

  2. Yeah… I’m one of *those* parents who makes their child eat everything on their plate… :P Everything has always been served up and on the table before prayer; training stopped little hands digging in until they understood the concept and it hasn’t really been a problem since (apart from occasional rebellion – my children are no angels!). :) But then again, the Lord hasn’t blessed me with such a big family yet… if we were blessed with more, I would be open to alternate methods if they became necessary! :)

  3. Six of our children live at home (9m to 17y), so we are a “larger family” either.
    We set the table, everyone takes place and we pray together. After that first the 3yo gets her plate filled and then everyone else (usually from youngest to oldest, but not necessarily – the adults and teenagers are more flexible). One of the older kids or one of us adults dishes everything out. The baby doesn’t eat anything yet – I nurse her before mealtime and then she sits in her highchair and chatters during prayer :-)
    If somebody asks for a second helping, it’s normally only allowed when his/her plate is empty. Same thing with dessert – don’t want your dinner – dont’ get dessert either. But, we aren’t always so strict with this, only when a kid doesn’t eat and finds faults every second day or so.

  4. This never, ever occurred to me (to wait to dish out food until after the prayer). We don’t have a large family by any stretch, but our preschooler is a very, very, VERY (did I mention very?) strong-willed child, so any “fight” we can do away with is valuable to me! lol

  5. We pretty much do the same thing around here, however, we have started to pass the dishes around because my youngest is 7 (and sits next to me so I can supervise). Except for the meat or whatever; that’s usually still handled by Dad or Mom.
    We do make them have a clean plate in order to get dessert (doesn’t apply to second helpings though), but the portion sizes to start with aren’t huge. Like a spoonful of veggies or something, and we expect them to eat that just so that they get what their bodies need. Needless to say, they don’t always get dessert. ;)
    We do have the same “seconds” rule. You can’t get more of something until you’ve at least put a dent into the other things.
    Your tea party picture reminded me of a time a few years back when we had regular formal tea party lunches. I did it to teach them etiquette and it was SO much fun!

  6. We sit down for family meals regularly, so meal training is important to us and I like reading other perspectives. We have a 6, 3, and 2 yr old.

    We dish out plates for the kids before they come to the table for it to cool down. No one’s allowed to sit down until they are called. We don’t call them until we are completely ready to sit down, pray, and eat, so they only have to hold off for a few moments. Calling them to their seats before we are completely ready is a recipe for disaster. They just can’t help themselves if they’re very hungry or thirsty. The 2 yr old has mumbled “Amen” around a mouth full of sneaked bread on several occasions. :)

  7. I usually end up getting all the plates prepared and on the table, then we pray. Sometimes I withhold the plates and we pray (but they’re already ready). Depends on the toddler’s mood that night — if he is super hungry he’ll scream during prayers if I don’t give him food. If he’s not, then he’ll pay attention. Even if I give him food he’ll eat with one hand and hold mine with the other, so…not too bad.

    We allow seconds if most of the “main” dish has been eaten or at least tried. I try to serve things in a manner they like (oldest does NOT like tomatoes so I will take some meat out for her before adding sauce, for example). We don’t make them finish everything on their plates, but if we know they are screwing around and not eating something like they like, even though they are hungry, because they would prefer to just eat a side dish or dessert, then we will tell them to eat more. If they are full that’s fine! But we don’t put up with tricks. We also will keep the dinner so that if they are hungry later they can have that. I really think that rule depends on the kid. It’s one thing to respect when the kid’s had enough, plate cleaned or not. It’s another to let them get out of eating most of their dinner so they can eat 2 bowls of ice cream, you know? My son doesn’t do that so when he’s done, he’s done. My daughter does, so we always encourage her to eat a little more before her dessert.

  8. I’m with you on teaching children to eat in moderation. Though, I tend to serve smaller helpings. I have struggled with a weight problem since beginning my “child-bearing” years…5 kids in 10 years, and I don’t want them to struggle with that. We do require them to eat everything off their plate though, especially the veggies and meat. And we serve their plates and have them place them on the table, get forks, cups, etc. Then we sit down to pray. My 2 and 4 year old help in this process so they don’t get too bored.

  9. Hmmm.. I’ve never thought about the order we dish & pray. I think most of the time we dish out the 2 youngest’s plates before the prayer so it can be cooling while we pray, but I have seen nibbling. Often I will move their plates out of reach (sometimes setting it in mine or Daddy’s plate) to remove the temptation.
    I am definitely with you on seconds: some of everything must be missing before you get more of anything. I only ask for a ‘clean plate’ if I know my light eater has been picky or dawdling and hasn’t eaten his fill. I don’t want hungry boys before we’ve hardly gotten the last meal cleaned up!

  10. I usually call everyone to come wash their hands and sit at the table while I am dishing up the meal. Then we pray once everyone is at the table. When they are still little, I keep their plate out of reach until after we have prayed and then they have to ask for it nicely. Since we do this from the time they just start eating they know what to expect as they get a little older. I’ve had no problems with a 2 or 2.5 year old, putting their hands in their lap and waiting until the prayer is over. I do try to remind them as they are sitting down at the table to not touch their food until after we have prayed. Depending on what is being served (something that gets cold quickly like eggs) we pray first and then it gets dished up, usually youngest to oldest, with the person serving getting the last plate. We do ask them to eat everything on their plate within reason. We try to serve small portions as they can always ask for something more if they are still hungry. If I know someone doesn’t care for something he still has to have a small amount and is required to eat that, before her can have dessert or anything else.

  11. Thanks for sharing this! We usually have everyone’s plates served up and on the table before praying, and our 2 year old is getting pretty good at resisting the temptation to nibble during our prayer, but we might try dishing out after prayer and see how that works for us!

  12. Thanks for sharing!

    Our dining room isn’t big enough for all 4 of us to eat at, so just the girls eat at the table right now. When dinner is just about done, I tell our youngest that dinner is ready. She runs off to find her big sister …. usually saying “bubbaya, table!” (um, that’s hard to type out, but it’s cute. It’s how she says Gabriella LOL). Then they both sit at the table while I dish up plates. While they wait, I ask Gabriella to say the blessing (she absolutely loves to do this). Hannah will even bow her head, put her hands together, and say Amen when it’s all over.

    Then Hannah gets down from the table to help serve her sister. She’s always done this on her own and gets VERY upset if she’s not allowed to help. I love it, so why deny her the joy lol

    Then they dig in. THey don’t usually ask for seconds. Well, not often anyway. But our rule is they have to have whatever age they are in number of bites of a new food before saying they’re done (so Gabriella is 6, so she has to have 6 bites). Cuz, too often, she’d take a small bite and never really get a good taste. And often times she’d say she didn’t like something only to find out that she actually did like it after the 2nd or 3rd bite. If they like a food I’ve served, they have to eat at least half before saying they’re done. Of course, right now, that only applies to Gabriella. Hannah will either love something and eat it all …. … or she’ll be VERY tired and only eat a little bit of it before asking to nurse to sleep. lol.

  13. We dish up first and then pray… our toddler is still learning not to touch her food, but she is getting much better- some days she remembers on her own.
    They aren’t required to eat it all before they can leave the table (there are some days they may be feeling slightly unwell or something or I might have given them too much or they may have had afternoon tea too late), but there is no dessert if there’s still food on the plate unless I think I did dish them up more than they can reasonably eat. I tell them “If you haven’t got room for the rest of your dinner, you haven’t got room for dessert.” But we don’t have dessert that often anyway.
    If there’s something that’s a really strong flavour, like sauerkraut, etc, they just have to have at least two decent mouthfuls.

  14. we dish up the 3 littlest childrens plates first- to cool down, and set them in the middle of the table. everyone sits down, then we pray. the littles get there food,everyone else dishes up what is in front of them and passes clockwise, waiting patiently. No more asking for the ranch that is on the other end the table-10′ away!
    but with 10 people in the house- this doesn’t seem like the best system, it takes so long to get everything!
    Now Im trying to lay out a buffet style on the counter for the olders and adults. first we dish up the littles, pray and then the olders go through the line and sit down. this goes much quicker and simplifies things.
    the older children dish up their own so they can learn to balance their own portions to how hungary they are… and yes they need to eat what they take and all of it before seconds of something favorite.