More to Mealtimes

More to Mealtimes

Finding cat medicine amongst the human medicine in a kitchen cupboard isn’t the oddest thing I have found as a Professional Family Organiser. While it doesn’t sound too bad, the last thing you want to happen at 2am when you’re feeling sick is to accidentally take pet medicine. There are many other reasons to organise your kitchen with your children in mind.

As a nanny, I always organised playrooms and bedrooms to help children learn through play and as a travel nanny, I got really good at packing and organising for multiple destinations and climates. During lockdown, I was a nanny to children in a divorced family moving the children from one house to the other weekly. I saw the more organised I got, the more the children thrived, and the easier life got for the parents, I joked to my then boss that I would give up nannying and start organising professionally. A year later, I did just that, almost. I can’t give up nannying entirely, I love working with children because they bring me so much joy. But I did start helping even more families to organise rooms and routines with children in mind, to declutter and create systems to bring learning to life in the home.

A routine most families find difficult is mealtimes. Not knowing what to cook every night, getting their children to eat different foods and not wanting the stress of the morning routine. Another wish for families is to spend more quality time together, without hiring a chef the best way is to get children involved. From planning to prepping, cooking to clearing up makes your life easier in the long run and supporting them with the essential life skills they need so they don’t have to live off pot noodles, waste money or have a negative impact on the environment.

More so, there are amazing learning opportunities from developing fine and gross motor skills to purposeful reading/writing opportunities and the obvious maths and science that goes on. Children also learn history, geography, religion, music and develop our creativity all through mealtimes.

One of the best things that happens when we involve children in the process is it encourages them to try new foods. By sourcing vegetables from a pick your own farm or trying to grow your own and planning your meals with Try-It Tuesdays to create a safe environment where children try new foods, alongside ones they already love and will eat- a positive environment where it is ok not to like some foods and declutter your vocabulary to promote a healthy relationship with food, we can support our children to listen to their bodies and build self-esteem.

Building resilience is also a benefit. Try using new implements, giving them open ended tasks where they problem solve all builds confidence. A three-year-old I worded with as a nanny wanted to help me put the frozen peas in the bowls for her siblings. The bag was heavy and her hand-eye coordination wasn’t quite there, they proceeded to roll off the table and I said she “pea ’ed” on the floor, which ended up in fits of giggles. Because I premise everything as teamwork, we swept them up together and the next time she asked to help with the frozen peas, I said of course, but I didn’t tell her what to do. She used her own problem-solving skills to use a spoon, and successfully transferred the peas with no peas going on the floor!

Forcing children to do things and calling them chores is a sure-fire way to make them not want to be involved. Making it interesting and fun is a great way to entice them- for example, once I made a mash-person with green beans for arms, carrots for a nose and peas for buttons and eyes, and now it’s become a mash tradition, and they make it themselves.

Having expectations of them scraping their food and putting plates by the sink means they are in charge of when they feel they have finished and not forcing them to keep eating means they are more likely to have a healthy relationship with food. Making the clean-up operation teamwork is also quicker so we get more time to play together. This has also had the children argue over who uses the handheld hoover and blasting ‘Let’s Get Loud’ by Jennifer Lopez while we help each other empty and fill the dishwasher makes it fun for everyone.

Find out more wonderful ways to help your child learn almost everything in the kitchen and make your life easier with my new book ‘More to Mealtimes’ available on Amazon for £11.99 or directly from me for £10 with free P&P by emailing [email protected] and quoting RAINBOWSMART APP.


Kathryn Lord