Family Mealtime Madness

Family Mealtime Madness
22nd May 2020 James Brooke

Family Mealtime Madness

Reclaim the calm to create quality quarantine family time and make lockdown mealtimes pleasurable.

The current need to be schoolteacher, playmate, entertainer, personal chef, and cleaner, on call 24/7, all the while juggling working from home and with the prospect of life continuing in lockdown for the foreseeable, is a challenge for even the most organised parent or caregiver.

Mealtimes should be an enjoyable part of any day; a chance for everyone to relax and share what they are up to or looking forward to, however, now faced with preparing and sharing three meals a day with the children, many parents are understandably finding them much more of a challenge or a strain.

To turn this around, Stokke expert, Linda McNeill, from The Positive Family Academy shares her tips and tricks to create calm and get back to enjoying fun and relaxed family mealtimes.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when faced with feeding and cleaning up after hungry – and likely slightly messy – children three times a day, says Linda. “However, mealtimes can be a fantastic opportunity to bond as a family. Families who eat together enjoy benefits to both their physical and mental health, so what better time to cultivate strong connections whilst enjoying delicious, nutritious food.”

Read on for Linda’s guide to harmonious family mealtimes.

1. Make a plan

This doesn’t need to be set in stone but a rough guide can help mealtimes run more smoothly. Take 10 minutes to plan out your meals for the week. It’s also worth considering the timings too, as this will help you manage your time better in the week.

Get the kids involved by asking them to create a colourful weekly meal planner for you to stick on the fridge. Not only will this be a fun activity but will also serve as a guide for them in the week too and should stop too many questions about when dinner will be ready.

2. Give everyone a role

Kids love to be involved, so let them be.

Ask your child to pick an ingredient or dish they’d like in the week. Give them options from what you have to hand – be it pasta, chicken, dried fruit or even some chocolate if that’s what they enjoy. Whilst on the whole you may find it quicker (and easier) to prepare meals yourself, set aside some time to cook this meal or sweet treat with your child. Think of it as a cooking class with the added bonus of keeping everyone entertained for half an hour.

If cooking with your child isn’t an option, allow them to pick their ingredient/meal of choice for you to prepare, and in return, perhaps ask that they set the table and help with the washing up. At times like these, it’s the small things that help, and don’t forget that involving children in household tasks is also helping them learn.

3. Get the lunchbox out

Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours cooking every meal from scratch. If your kids are used to eating packed lunches at school, there’s no reason not to continue with this routine.

Children are more likely to enjoy their lunchbox if they helped make it, so get them involved. Ask them to help choose and prepare what goes into their packed lunch each day.

Be creative, make it exciting by encouraging them to think about different textures and flavours rather than defaulting to their favourites every day – include sweet and savoury dipping foods, wraps they can put together themselves, fruit and yoghurt pots they can mix up and top with crunchy granola – anything that adds to the fun.

4. Make it fun

Mealtimes should be fun rather than a challenging, so add some excitement to the proceedings.

You could try a themed meal – whether that’s foods from around the world, a royal banquet (silver tin foil plates work a treat, as do blankets in place of robes), or asking everyone to wear their favourite hat. A theme will create a fun talking point to be enjoyed by all.

5. Take it outside

If it’s a warm, sunny day and you’re lucky enough to have outside space, take your meal into the garden and enjoy as a picnic.

If the sun isn’t out, consider the Scandi phrase ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, simply bad clothes’ before completely opting out. After all, there’s nothing better than getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.

If an outdoor picnic isn’t workable, why not bring the outdoors in? Transform your home into a jungle by bringing all of your houseplants into the living room and playing jungle sounds; it will be exciting for little ones and will no doubt give you a few laughs too.

Food wise, think simple sandwiches, finger foods such as scotch eggs or falafel, fruit slices, flapjacks, and a treat or two such as popcorn and lemonade.

6. Give yourself a break

Mealtimes are supposed to be enjoyable, but if you’re struggling to find time to cook every day and are finding it a challenge, give yourself a break. At times like these the last thing you need is to worry about whether you can provide Delia-worthy dishes for your child.

Consider asking a friend or neighbor for a ‘food swap’ – perhaps they could drop some of their leftover pasta bake or shepherd’s pie on the doorstep to give you a night off and you can then repay the favour for them the following week?

You could also look into any local cafes or restaurants offering home delivery near you – there are plenty of nutritious delivery options available.

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About Stokke
Premium children’s furniture and equipment brand, Stokke®, offers a complete package for new parents, covering all highchair, transport, baby carrier, home textiles and nursery needs.

Stokke® is heavily focused on creating products that ensure the healthy development of young children. From elevated, parent-facing strollers, to award-winning ergonomic baby carriers and a versatile line of adjustable seating solutions, Stokke® prioritises the needs of the child above all else.

With innovative features promoting better eye contact and interaction, all products in the Stokke® collection are designed to bring parent and child closer, to foster connection and promote bonding, ensuring children feel safe and secure.

This human-centric focus on design not only promotes connection, but delivers functionality, exceptional ergonomics and unparalleled comfort. All Stokke®’s products are designed in the best interest of the child.

Thanks to timeless and stylish Scandi design and engineering, Stokke® products are developed to fit seamlessly into any interior.

Stokke® was founded in Ålesund, Norway in 1932. The brand’s ethos and products embody their Norwegian heritage, embracing quality, nature, craftmanship, and balanced living.

A core product of the Stokke® collection for over 45 years, the iconic Tripp Trapp® highchair was
Stokke®’s first product designed for children. It has sold more than 11 million units globally.

Stokke® is available in over 80 countries worldwide and has its own subsidiaries in Europe, the United States, Asia and Russia.

The Stokke Westfield London offers private appointments and consultations for customers. A personalized engraving service of the Tripp Trapp backrest is also available in-store, free of charge. | Facebook @StokkeUK | Instagram @stokkebaby | Twitter @StokkeBaby

About Positive Family Academy
The Positive Family Academy provides families with activity kits to do together, direct to your inbox and ready to go when the time is right for you. Life is hectic and family life can take a hit. The PFA is there to provide you with pre-planned activities, video workshops, downloads and resources across several brilliant themes that are guaranteed to make family time positive time and get you and your tribe having fun and learning together.

Each activity kit costs £6.99 but due to the current situation with Coronavirus we have slashed our prices. Each kit can currently be purchased for £1 by entering the code SENDHELP at checkout, or you can get the full set of kits for £5 (normally £56). | Facebook | Instagram @bunintheoven_thepositivefamily