What time do you plan on eating dinner? Most organized women begin dinner preparations at 4:30 p.m. OR, preferably, before breakfast! Early risers lay out all the nonperishable ingredients and dishes, and do preparation such as chopping celery and grating cheese. Shocking, but true!
I'm not an early riser, so in the beginning 4:30 p.m. was always my starting time, unless I was using a crock pot, in which case preparation must be done in the morning, and at 2:45 p.m. if using a bread maker. You must begin at 4:00 p.m. if you need to clean up your kitchen beforehand.
If you plan to eat at 6:00 p.m., then 4:30 is your LATEST starting time!
Have a child set the table. Check his or her work. Make sure you have taught them properly, and remember to SMILE and praise them! No criticizing! Ask your children to come up with a centerpiece. Keep a Bible handy to read a passage right after dinner. Use themes whenever possible, esp. to tie into a Bible story. Get a manners book and practice. Tell them WHY we use manners, and that we are showing consideration for others.
I once heard a French woman say that American women get fat because they eat bland food standing up. French women take pride in what they cook, and serve it as though at a fancy restaurant, even if she doesn't own good china. Even if it is just for YOU at lunch, set the table! It seems silly, but it works and helps keep off the weight. My lunch at the table helps me savor the moment of being home with my child in my cozy home.
If your DH gets home much later than when you need to eat, set his place and when he comes home warm up his food if at all possible, instead of throwing it into the microwave and him eating in front of the computer or tv.
It took us YEARS to accomplish a nice evening dinner routine, even though it is such a simple thing. My child and I eat at 6:00 p.m. or earlier, as daddy doesn't come home until after 7:30 p.m.
My Dear Husband shared that he really liked it when I remembered to turn on the porch light. It made him feel welcomed. He also liked it when the table was clear and inviting – which was rare for the first 5 years of our marriage. Since I do not cook meat, we decided that whatever I made would be his appetizer – if he liked it. That would take the edge off his hunger and he'd get his nutrition. Then he was free to make his meat, etc.
It was a very difficult process, as our tastes in food are complete opposites. I like any type of pasta except spaghetti. He only likes spaghetti. I like sweet sauces; he likes spicy. I eat vege-burgers; he eats meat. I like raw veges; he likes cooked. We couldn't even agree on our mustard and mayonnaise. I like my food piping hot; he likes his room temperature. I like to eat and move on; he likes to linger and take hours, esp. when surfing the net or watching a movie. Sometimes he'd take so long the cat would finish his meal for him! I get up in the morning and eat first thing. He eats hours later. When I'm making an early lunch, he is eating breakfast. When I'm beginning to make dinner, he's just finishing his lunch. He is definitely on his own schedule! We eventually worked it out, but it took a long time.
A word about Nutrition
In "Snowbound with Betsy," each morning mom poured orange juice from the squeezer into everyone's glass! Now, I have an orange tree and I've only done this a few times. But it is an inspiration. However, even if you use "fresh-squeezed" o.j. from your grocery store, the point is that you have personally looked into what juice is best served to your family, and that it is available for you and your family every morning. This is what normal used to be. This is our goal.
Based on what you read about nutrition for your family, YOU need to decide what comes in from the grocery store and goes into your child's growing body. I recommend "Disease Proof Your Child," "Eat for Health", and "Eat to Live," all by Joel Furhman, M.D., if you don't know where to start.
What YOU feed your children NOW will determine if they have a long and healthy life or a shortened and sick one. It really is YOUR responsibility. YOU are accountable. It IS that important. (I am preaching to myself, too!)
Not only does what you feed your children now affect how often they will be sick as children – catching colds from other children at the playground, classes, or schools – but it affects their ENTIRE life span – if they will develop asthma, diseases, cancer, etc.
It is a MYTH that children need to get sick as children in order to build their immune system. (I am not talking about eliminating germs.) If it were true, then school teachers would be immune from their students' colds and flus. However, since most school teachers eat about as well as their students, they also get sick as often. If the myth were true, then the school teacher would no longer get sick. (The funny thing is I often hear teachers brag that they no longer get sick – yet every time we see them they have a cold.) Proper nutrition helps make a difference. A teacher that eats plenty of fruits and veges won't get sick as often. It is the same with children. However, if your child isn't eating as well as he needs to be, and he is around other nutritionally-deprived children, he will probably get sick, thus causing weariness for the entire family.
The person who decides what shall be the food and drinks of a family, and the modes of its preparation, is the one who decides, to a greater or less extent, what shall be the health of that family. ~Catherine Beecham and H.B. Stowe 1869