Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. chaos erupts in the cute little ranch-style house with the white picket fence. Fiery explosions come in blasts from a tired one year-old, crashes come from a penned-up toddler who loves to romp through walls and furniture, and an almost-teenage angst comes from a kid who wants to play but needs to work a bit, even after a long day of school.
The water in the pot bubbles to a boil, the vegetables begin to steam, and the oven temperature climbs. The heat is on at the Marshall's in those pre-dinner hours.
Dad comes home and the chaos melts into symphonic celebration. Loud joy.
Then dinner, which is a clamor. For food, yes, but more for attention. This comes in the form of boisterous baby babbling, talking through stuffed cheeks, standing up on chairs, loud voices bouncing off the narrow dining room walls, and behavior fit for an oafish lump of vikings.
I'm out of ideas.
I love dinner. I work hard to make dinner and to prepare for it. We even breathe and stretch for a while before dinner starts to help everyone mellow out.
What do you do so that meal prep time and dinner time are peaceful, happy times? How do you teach and reinforce manners without making them the only topic of conversation at dinner? How do you teach your children to be polite when other people are talking?