When I work with clients and we talk about “family-style,” that can bring up new challenges. Family-style means you put the food in serving bowls on the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves (little ones may need some help, and it can get messy!) Parents tell me this is one of the quickest ways to neutralize many power-struggles.
Timmy has a fit that mashed potatoes are on his pre-served plate? You are fighting before the meal has even begun. Game over. Allow kids to control as much as they can, and remember, once you have put the food in bowls on the table, pat yourself on the back. Now, it’s up to them to decide what and how much from what you put out there. If strong-willed Timmy can do it himself, and it’s his idea, and he has control, he will be more likely to take some of those mashed potatoes. Maybe not tonight, but he is more likely to try if he doesn’t have to “lose” to eat mashed potatoes…
some challenges that come up:
• no dishwasher, and the extra dishes are going to push you over the edge
• small table, no room for serving bowls
• you don’t own any “serving bowls” and money is tight
First, be kind to yourself. Do the best you can. If that means that you are hanging on to your sanity by a thread, get paper plates and throw them out instead of doing dishes. If you have older kids, you can put the hot pans right on the table (using a tile or hotplate so you don’t damage your table.) Try out one dish meals. (See my faves: lasagna, and tuna casserole) If there is a bookshelf next to the table, put the bread basket there, or once everyone has had a first-go round on a dish, put it there. Use small bowls as serving bowls. Sometimes, you may need to refill the serving bowl, but it will fit on the table.Target has a good selection of smaller bowl at lower prices, or hit garage sales (in all your spare time… That reminds me that our old neighborhood had its annual garage sale last weekend. See if you can find a neighborhood sale, way more efficient. It’s the 5th year I went to this one, and the only time I can stand garage sales. The hunt is not part of the thrill for me…)
Anyway, as parents, we do the best we can. Think creatively and see what happens. How does your family do “family-style?”