“Don’t forget to clear your plate.” Is that really how families want to end dinner? With a chore?
That word, chore—makes me think of Cinderella not being able to go to the ball.
What do we teach kids when we tell them to clear their own plate?
- Think about yourself—your mess, your plate. Ignore the spilt gravy and crumbs on the table—that’s someone else’s job
- Helping make things nice for the family is a chore, the thing you do before you play
- The task, clearing your plate, is more important than the goal—having a clean table, or a happy family that works together
There’s a better way. End dinner with an act of love. Here’s how our family does it:
When we’re ready to leave the table, I say “Kubla, what’s the last thing we do at family dinner?”
“Clear the plate of someone you love!”
Then he decides who will clear whose plate. We make a second trip to pick up the odds and ends—I pick up his ketchup bottle, he takes Liping’s chopsticks, Liping takes my water glass. Then we all go to the family room to continue playing.
How do you end your family mealtime? How do you add meaning to routine?
In two weeks I’ll give a $20 Kidorable gift certificate to whoever makes my favorite comment.