What is better than having your beautiful little family together at dinner every night? Having your beautiful little family wanting to be together for dinner every night.
“Deb, get real.”
Hold it right there, momma. I get it. If you would have told me three months ago that this was possible, I would have said the same thing. But give me a chance to explain.
What do kids want? Fun. We all know that. And while you can’t make every moment of every day fun, that just means you have to find some prime time throughout the day to integrate more fun in the simplest of ways.
So I chose dinner time. I created fun dinner time with my new educational placemats! But here’s the kicker. The kids have no idea they are educational, so it’s a total win-win.
Okay, I know what you may be thinking, “Won’t that take away from the togetherness of dinner time?”
Yes, at first, it did. You’re right. The kids would play mostly, and take short breaks to throw a bit of food in their mouths. That didn’t leave much time for family.
But that is exactly why I’m going to save you the trouble of going about using these placemats the wrong way. I did it and I’m here to save you.
My number one suggestion? Make a rule.
Kids need structure. They need direction. And when there is a reward involved, they will be all too happy to follow your lead.
Our rule was, “Wait until everyone is done eating before you use the placemats.” This rule actually killed two birds with one stone. It made them eat all their food, and made them more interested in dinnertime together because it meant play time was around the corner.
When my husband and I realized how transformative these placemats had become to all three of our kids, I set out two more placemats at the dinner table–one for me and one for my husband. That way, we all were on the same level, seeing the same things, and engaging in the same context. We could play along.
Let me tell you, that little switch made all the difference. Our kids love dinnertime now, but, better yet, they love dinnertime with the whole family. It has brought our family much closer.
Who knew that placemats could hold the key to a happy family!
So you may be wondering where to start. In looking for an educational placemat for your little ones, look for:
We all know how easily our little ones can get sidetracked. So this thing should look like the rainbow’s crazy step child, a masterpiece all it’s own. This is even a great opportunity to teach them about color, if they don’t yet know.
The placemat can either have art on it for them to admire, describe, or recreate, or it can be a chance for them to create their own art, say, with dry erase markers. Fun, no mess projects can never be underestimated.
Bundles of placemats with the same theme (ie. letters, animals, colors) can be switched out often for new challenges, extending it’s shelf life in your home.
Interactive games can sometimes be the easiest way to capture a child’s attention. Counting games, spelling games, and the like are great ways to keep your child busy with something fun and educational. Having pasta for dinner? Have your child count a few noodles to see how many she can fit into a specific shape on the placemat.
Kids don’t need anything too complex. That may lead them to give up too early, which wouldn’t solve the problem you were trying to fix in the first place. Not sure where to start? Try something easy and work your way up as needed.
I am in love with this new “distraction,” although that makes it sound like a negative influence on my kids. It’s actually quite the opposite. Fun dinner time with my new educational placemats is where it’s at these days.
If you’re even crunched for time after dinner, what with all the tooth brushing, book reading, and other bedtime routines, then try doing it before dinner. I guarantee these placemats will make dinner preparation much easier for you.
These placemats are fantastic now, but I don’t know how I will manage when they are teenagers. That is a thought I’d rather forget at this moment in time.