It’s important for families to have meal time rules for a pleasant meal time experience and have good quality time together. It will also help train the kids and everyone in the family how to behave with manners and how to interact in social gatherings.
Our family’s trying our best to follow these too but admittedly, it’s challenging to follow everything strictly but when you get the hang of it, they will all be second nature to the everyone. Here are some easy and practical ideas you can follow and implement in your home.
1.Use polite words when you have a request and also be polite when you refuse food
It would be nice to practice requesting politely and refusing food you do not want politely too. Use words like “Please pass the <food>” , “No, thank you.”
2. No gadgets or toys
This rule will really help everyone focus in eating and catching up with each other. Of course, while chatting, everyone will still observe rule #3 below. Using the phone, tablet, laptops, watching tv, or playing with toys will definitely distract and prevent you from conversing well and listening to whoever is talking.
Even a good listener has undivided attention no matter how much they say they can multitask.
3. Don’t talk when your mouth is full
This is one of the famous table manners but mostly ignored and oftentimes not followed even by adults. Conversation don’t go smoothly when one party doesn’t understand what you say the first time because your mouth is probably full with food so you’d have to say the same thing again.
4.Say your prayer before meals
A simple and short prayer of thanks for the blessing of togetherness and food to eat. It would also be nice to add a short sincere prayer from the heart after the usual prayers we recite so everyone will make prayers just not a simple habit.
5. Use utensils properly
Educate everyone on the use and the different types of table utensils – different kinds of spoons, forks, knives. Educate everyone also on the proper table setting even for formal events. It’s nice if everyone will not guess in social gatherings what utensils are for. Practicing proper use of utensils will come natural if you practice the everyday. But for Filipino families, the usual table setting for daily meals is as simple as a spoon and fork.
6.Wipe you mouth and hands with napkins
For all the food that spilled, do not just use your hands and/ or throw them on the floor. Get a napkin and wipe and pick up accordingly. Do not use your shirt to wipe your mouth. Teach the kids to do this early on to avoid food stain on your clothes too.
7.Finish the food on your plate
Try your best to finish all the food you got on your plate so you don’t waste food. Kids will follow through if they see adults doing this.
8.Food criticism may come after meals
It is very rude to keep complaining about the food you are eating with all the minor comments and requests. Unless you are in the restaurant and would like to request for a replacement for something really concerning about your food. Your request or comments and feedback about the food may be mentioned to the person who cooked after meal time.
9.Fix your plate when you’re done eating
After eating, arrange your utensils properly together at the center of the plate (parallel to each other), pointing to twelve o’clock. Everyone should also help fix the table after eating and volunteer to help whether you’re at home or in another home. Dining in restaurants are exceptions but it doesn’t mean you will forget to fix your utensils after eating.
10. Eat together
As much as possible, dine together and do not dine at separate times. Meal time is an opportunity to be together as a family and catch up on each other’s day. It is a good way to keep an open communication between family members. This will build stronger sense of belonging which can lead to better self-esteem. Studies show that families that eat together are happier and healthier.
While eating together, you may also get information on what the family wants to eat the next days and weeks.
11. Keep conversations pleasant and happy
If there are sensitive issues and important serious matters, meal time is not the time to discuss them. Keep all topics light and happy. You can talk about your day, what you saw today, or what you saw from the internet. Simple conversations may go a long way. Avoid politics if people have different opinions on this matter.
Eating together doesn’t mean it needs to be grand and luxurious. Keeping family dinners simple is better.