So often, parents think that meals are only about eating food, and yes, consuming calories is important. But is very helpful to remember that meals are a good time for the family to come together in conversation and cooperation.

If your dining room feels more like a battleground than a friendly place to break bread, it is time to change things up.

So, let’s try something a little out-of-the-box. This idea is meant to cultivate some cooperation, collaboration, and interest in food, as well as responsibility, and fun! This day can be altered to simply one meal; do what is right for your family!

The “Kids Rule the Kitchen” Day!

1) Two days before the Big Day, tell your children that they are going to be in charge of feeding the family! Let them know that there must be nutritious choices (two fruits, three veggies, proteins, etc.), and then help them plan the menu.It must be food that only they can make with minimal help from you. Otherwise, why bother? Also, don’t judge the choices too harshly. If it is waffles and grapes for breakfast, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches with baby carrots and pretzels for lunch, and chicken nuggets with frozen peas and mac-n-cheese for dinner…it’s okay. It’s one day.

2) Write down the menu for the day and hang it up where everyone can see it.

3) Go shopping with the kids and their lists. Allow them to find the items (and tailor this for the younger set). If you have readers in the house, they should manage this fine.

4) The night before the big day, remind your children that they are making the food the next morning, and you cannot wait!

5) Don’t over-manage the day. As safely as you can, allow the children to work out their issues and make the meals. Yes, help cut veggies and toast waffles, but stay out of the way as much as you can, and don’t criticize. Stay positive, smiling, and say that everything is delicious. As the parent, offer to set the table and get the napkins for the family.

6) Enjoy the meals together! Mention the details of what you notice. Show gratitude for the food and the preparation. Offer to clear the table.

7) Above all, let this be a fun experiment. Notice how your child handles this fun challenge. Is your child afraid to fail? Does your child ask for your help constantly, because they are accustomed to you jumping in? Is your child thriving under a bit of pressure, and have a creative flair? A day like this shows you a good bit about your child’s temperament, as well as your own parenting strengths and weaknesses. Watch and take note.

8) Plan another one! No matter what, declare it is a great success and schedule the next one. Everything that children do is practice, so allow this to be practice. Your goals are not about food here. They are about fostering confidence, cooperation, fellowship and fun. Get brave and give your children a chance!