Parenting & Family

How to Make Mealtimes Easier with Kids

2 Minute Read

Mealtimes with kids can be so frustrating.  You finally get food prepared and on the table and one kid has to go to the bathroom, the other one is complaining that her food is touching, and then you forget to get your own drink.  Does the average parent actually sit down for longer than 60 seconds during a meal? Or get to eat their food while it’s hot?  I’d really like to know. But, I did start something that makes mealtimes easier with kids!

Recently, I have started using a Mealtime Checklist with my kids.  And while it’s not magically fixing all our mealtime problems, it’s helping reduce the main frustrations at our table.  

For reference, my kids are 5, 3, and 3.  They are big helpers around the house and are capable of being fairly independent when coached. 

Here is our checklist that my kids have to go through before every meal: 

  1. Bathroom:  Without a doubt, if we don’t remind the kids to pee before meals start, one to three of them will jump up and announce they have to go potty and run off.  Major disruption for mealtimes, especially for kids that have trouble focusing on their food in the first place. 
  2. Table cleared:  Our kitchen table is in the main living space of our house and at any moment could be covered in arts and crafts, toys, play-doh, school work, etc. 99% of the mess is from the kids, so why shouldn’t they be the ones to clean it? 
  3. Waters filled and at the table:  I hate sitting down only to be asked 30 seconds later for a water refill.  Multiply that by 3 and it’s up, down, up down.  The new rule is if you don’t ask during our pre-meal checklist, I won’t fill it until I’m done eating my meal. 
  4. Napkins by their spot:  Same issues with the waters.  My kids hate to be dirty and want a “wipe” at all times (we use cloth napkins).  But they often forget to get them so when they NEED it during mealtime, mom is the one to jump up, go in the kitchen, and get it. 

Basically, our checklist prevents distraction from the meal at hand, reduces the amount of times someone has to leave the table, and hopefully enables everyone (like me!) to eat meals while they’re hot. 

Now,  your checklist might look different from ours.  

How to Build a Mealtime Checklist

You can figure out your checklist items by asking these questions:

  • What frustrates me about mealtimes?
  • What can be controlled?
  • What can I delegate?

There may be many things that frustrate you during mealtimes (make a list!). To narrow it down, look at things that are actually in your control. The speed your toddler eats? Not in your control. No toys at the table to offer further distractions? Definitely in your control. Lastly, what can you delegate to your kids to take one thing off your plate? Your tiny humans are very capable and probably will love to help, given the chance.

Maybe your checklist will include setting the table, wiping down the table, putting homework away in their backpacks, making sure the dog is fed…there are lots of possibilities and it all depends on what you prioritize and delegate.  

Making Mealtimes Easier With Kids

There’s nothing I love more than building routines that work!

Go ahead and give it a whirl!  Let me know in the comments what your own mealtime checklist will include!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:

How I Keep My House Clean with Kids
How to Get Out the Door On Time with Kids
The Best Way to Manage Kids’ Artwork
The Best Books for People with Little Kids


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