I work hard to cook a heathy and tasty meal for my family every night. As hard as I try I can’t make everyone happy all the time. Recently asking “Mom, what’s for dinner?” has turned into a trigger for my 7-year-old to immediately protest my menu selection. My typical response is “it’s my job to choose the food we eat and it’s your job to eat the food I prepare”.
I have to be honest. I’m sick of the whining about dinner. Sick. And. Tired. It drives me insane. I work hard to shop and cook for our family and despite my best efforts every night turns into a battle. I was losing the battles by yelling back or getting noticeably upset.
So, I’ve changed strategies. I decided to choose three things that will make mealtime more enjoyable for me. Yes, me. This is all about me. If the kids follow the “rules” I set during dinner they earn a ball in our positive reward jar.
The three rules are:
- No complaining. I don’t want any whining about what I make for dinner.
- Don’t leave the table. Stay in your seat until you are excused.
- Clean up after yourself. Clear your area when you are done.
I set up three “reward” levels the kids can reach. When we get to the top we’ll start over again:
- Red Band – I’ll make cookies (It will take 6 dinners to earn this reward)
- Green Band – Pizza & Movie Night! (It’ll take 12 dinners to earn this reward)
- Yellow Band – A fun family outing: movies, ice cream, bowling night, etc(21 dinners to earn this reward)
My kids are eating this up. I had a few gentle reminders as the evening progressed but for the first time in a LONG time we have had complaint free dinner. It feels amazing. The kids even complimented the dinner I cooked (GASP!). They stayed put (except the 2-year-old) and cleaned up after dinner. I could not be happier and highly recommend you give this a try at your home.
This project didn’t cost me anything as I had all the items around the house. I encourage you to make one with you have on hand. If you don’t have balls use little toys or cars. I used a vase I got flowers in from my birthday, rubber bands, alphabet stickers and some balls that work in my kids air toys.
Supplies used to make this project: