It was a typical, no-nothing Wednesday. There wasn't a birthday, it wasn't a holiday, and there was no reason to celebrate. But in the LeBlanc home, it was time for tea. And not just ordinary tea, this was a full-on tea party with a lace tablecloth, candles, little sandwiches, and dressing up in "fancy" attire. No reason, just to have some fun as a family. Even dad got into it, coming to the tea party lunch with his girls sporting a nice jacket.
We talked with accents and made sure to use proper manners. We commented on how we haven't seen one another in such a long time and we "really must write more often." We made up stories about what has been going on in our lives while enjoying a light lunch and tea (iced tea because the kids were not in the mood for regular tea in almost 100 degree weather.)
It was a fun afternoon shared together and gave us a different way to connect with our children.
I love mixing up mealtimes with my kids. We are together for 3 meals a day and sometimes it is nice to do something different.
A few weeks ago we visited my family in Connecticut and my sister and I gathered up our kids and our mom and headed out for a picnic lunch at Gillette's Castle State Park. But this was no ordinary picnic. In attendance at this picnic was a princess, a prince, a knight, and a medeival adventurer/warrior woman. The kids dressed up, they used imaginative play, and they had a blast exploring the park and area around the castle together.
Often you can find us out in the yard with a picnic blanket and a stack of books, sitting under a tree or by the creek as we take time to eat, read, and enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes we eat on the front porch, or on the back porch. Sometimes we light some candles with dinner, other times I make pretty or funny designs with the food on our plates (like writing words out of mustard on a hot dog for my husband or making a face on a plate for my kids.) And most Friday nights we eat dinner in the living room while watching a movie together.
Mixing up meals doesn't have to be anything fancy or elaborate. Mixing up meals may look like having breakfast for dinner, or putting a tablecloth on the table, or eating with cloth napkins, or putting flowers into a vase on the table.
Here are some fun ideas that you can try for mixing up mealtime with your family:
Bring a friend
Have your child pick a "friend", like a stuffed animal, doll, or other toy, to come have a meal with you. You can even set a place setting and use play food to feed them too.
Have your child dress up as a superhero for a meal. Make it even more fun by dressing up with them!
Everyone bring a book they love to the meal. As you are eating, take time to read everyone's books.
Dinos for Dinner
Pretend like you are dinosaurs, or bring a dinosaur to eat with you during the meal. Or even serve dino chicken nuggets and set the plate up like their environment!
Everyone can pretend to be their favorite animal while you eat. Or, bring your favorite animal stuffy to eat with you.
Plan a fun adventure and pack your meal in a backpack to bring along with you. This could be going for a hike, or it could be a walk through your neighborhood. Pretend you are on an adventure as you go along. You can eat the meal in portions along the way, or you can stop somewhere to eat. I have a favorite hiking trail that we do this on, where we hike for 10 minutes to a natural amphitheater, eat there, the girls always put on a performance while we are there, and then continue our hike.
If you live near a beach, or pond, or lake, take a lunch and go eat there.
Set up a "tent" and a campfire ring. Then "cook" your meal over the fire and enjoy!
This one may need to be a special snack, because not every kid can stretch a meal til twilight or when the stars come out. But having a meal when the sun is going down and the stars are coming out can be really fun for kids. Make it even more fun by looking up at the sky together.
Create a "cave" using a table or chairs and some blankets, then eat your meal underneath inside it!
These are just some ideas. Use your imagination, or invite your children to use their imagination, and see what fun you can come up with to mix up your meal times! If you have something fun to share, drop a comment so others can get inspiration!