Being at the Crossroads
Long before I was a parent, I heard the parenting advice to “be at the crossroads”. Be around when your children are coming and going, be present right before they leave for school, be home as they are getting home for the day, etc. Two children later, and I still can’t fully take this parenting advice because, well, I’m the one driving my three-year-old to and from preschool, and my one-year-old is my all-day-long sidekick that does not currently have crossroads during her day.
However, I think this advice is a fantastic rule to follow as my children get older, so I’ve often thought about and contemplated how I can be at the crossroads with my children even though they very rarely leave the house or come home without me already present. The two things I have come up with to heed this wise advice are naptime and mealtime. My one-year-old takes one nap each day for roughly an hour and a half. So right before and right after this blissful, rejuvenating portion of my day, I do my best to give her as much one-on-one attention I can muster. This is how I am here for my little girl at this crossroad of her day.
The other portion of the day that I consider a “crossroad” in my home is a mealtime. Breakfast is the perfect transition to a new day, lunch transitions us from morning to afternoon, and dinner brings Dad into the picture as we come together as a family while gearing up for evening and bedtime. Being present at this type of a crossroad is important to me and here are a few ways I achieve this:
Of course, this isn’t always a practical possibility because of other obligations that come up, but I try as often as possible to eat together as a whole family. Not only do I feel like we all have a better, less-interrupted eating experience when we’re all eating at the same time, but sitting at a table together creates the perfect setting to talk about our day, ask each other questions, and give us plenty of time to really listen to each other.
Limit DistractionsI don’t have a strict no-electronics-at-the-table rule, BUT my husband and children are well aware that I don’t prefer games, twitter, or other personal entertainment while we’re sharing a meal together. I don’t mind if a movie is on in the background because it’s a group-affair, but when it comes to personal distractions, I’d rather they wait until after dinner is done. This keeps the chaos to a minimum and our focus on each other.
Keep it Kid-Friendly
Here’s the real kicker. Kid’s don’t necessarily appreciate a good meal when they see it…or taste it. So somewhat catering to what they’ll willingly eat is a good idea. And two great ways to do this are figuring out a menu that they approve of or will be willing to try, and using dishes and silverware that they’ll love. I especially love Avanchy products for mealtimes because of the separate plate compartments for the picky toddler, the no-slip suction for the new learner, and the durable quality that will make it last for several years.