Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Dinner Seating Solution

Do you know what my kids fight about most at dinnertime?

What color cup they get?  ...no...

Who gets the last piece of jello?  ...no...

The biggest point of contention at our dinner table is about who gets to sit by MOM!

(WOOHOO!  I'm loved!)

Oh, children, children, no need to fight!  (Gush!)  
There's enough of mom to go around...(especially while I'm pregnant.)

Anyway, while I was visiting family in Colorado last week, I spied a book that my MIL had set out on the breakfast table for us sisters to discover.  (Incidentally, it's called Walking into a Hug.)  It's a journal/workbook that helps you to create a more embracing home over a 52-week period, by implementing one new habit each week.

I read through the book that afternoon and took notes of suggestions I thought would help us/me to create a more loving atmosphere.  I also wrote down any impressions that came to me about our home-life that were not in the book...and there were a LOT of them.

One of them was a possible solution to making table-seating fun instead of a fight.

I didn't like the idea of having set seating.  It's boring, predictable, and too top-down for me.  Plus, given the fact that everybody wants to sit by me, I didn't want to have to "choose a favorite" to get that "privilege."  

So, instead, I thought why not pull numbers every night before we sit down to determine where we'll each sit at dinner?   

That way it mixes things up, creates an element of anticipation and surprise, and takes the pressure off of me to break up quarrels and crying over who gets to sit where!

We introduced this new "dinner game" last night before dinner/FHE, and I think the kids enjoyed it.  At least...no one cried!

As dinner was winding down, I started discussing our family's schedule and how we'd work in our chores and fun time around school drop-offs and pick-ups and homework and such.  

I presented some time dilemmas that we are facing and asked them to help come up with the best way around the problems.  They enjoyed giving their input into how our mornings and evenings together will go in the fall.  Then I asked them to tell me other fun things they'd like us to do together as a family on the weekends.  Guy had a lot of suggestions which revolved around each child getting alone time with Mom or Dad.

At one point, I asked Scarlett a question, calling her by name at first to get her attention.  She said, "Mom, you mean, #2?  Why don't you just call us by our seating numbers?"  Smarty-pants!!! :)

To wrap up our family home evening together, I told the children that I had a surprise for each of them.  While I was in Colorado, I spotted these cool closet organizers at the Current outlet for $8 each!  There is a slot for each weekday, where the kids can lay-out their school clothes and gather items they might need for special things happening each day.  The kids were thrilled with their back-to-school presents, and I am looking forward to seeing them use these things to organize their ever-expanding lives!

Now if only Guy and Autumn had a closet in their new bedroom, we'd be all set!  I'm working on that!

We start school next week, so our next FHE will include back-to-school blessings from Dad!

Check out more FHE reports from That Good Part!

And if you're interested in seeing some more food-related tips, check out these posts:

A Snack-sneaking Solution (which I use to make lunch fun)
A Dish Solution that has helped us keep dirty dishes to a minimum.


  1. So glad to know there is an alternative to "Sit down and shut up."

  2. Are Guy and Autumn going to share a bedroom? I guess they are making room for baby :) You can go to Big Lots or Odd Lots to get a wardrobe cabinet for each of them inexpensively to use as a closet...

  3. ha! Yes, good to know! :) And I've been searching for the alternative for a while now!

  4. I think I'll check that out for sure today, thanks, Edye!

  5. We had set places at the table, and the kids just sort of took that for granted without complaint. But I like your seating idea a lot. Sounds like fun, and variety is the spice of life, right? (My kids are in such a rut that they STILL sit in the same seats when they come home...)

    1. We did too especially when we were older...this seemed like a fun way to deal with the problem especially given their ages and proximity of ages!

  6. I like the idea to change up seating. That's something to think about as our family grows! Our son uses one of these days of the week things for school clothes. It's so easy in the morning.

  7. My kids fight over me too! They trade off weeks getting to set the table and the person who sets the table chooses where everyone sits. It has solved a lot of the crying/fighting for us...as long as my son doesn't set the table only to change it once he realized his sister is happy with where she is sitting.

  8. what a cool mom you are...I could have used these ideas when I was raising my four boys...lol!

  9. My kids usually just sit in the same spot, not because we made them or told them they had to, they just do. However, or fight at each meal is who gets to say the prayer. Actually every prayer is a fight, "she said it last time" "I never get to say it". I am glad they want to pray, but in a family of only 4 with more than 4 prayers in a day, we can get in trouble.

  10. That book sounds great, I'm going to have to run out and get it soon. I liked the DB description that says she missed the parenting class in premortal life, I think I did too, so I'm excited to get some new ideas! :)

  11. When I read your posts it brings back memories of raising my own children. There are so many examples that are similar. You have such great ideas. I love your pictures and thoughts to day. Blessings to you all!

  12. We did this too. It really does help!! Now I need help with the after school let down when the kids are so grumpy and freaking out. I let them watch tv for a little to wind down, but my oldest daughter is 7 and she just can't seem to chill out after school. Too much sitting, I guess? Anyway, any suggestions? heatha100@gmail.com

  13. Moms are always popular, but mostly it's for clean up on isle four, or a kid got something stuck up their nose or to settle a spat over a play object. It is fantastic to be popular at the dinner table. Way to make a mom feel loved kids! When they are teens this will be a great post to share with them so they remember when they use to fight to sit next to Mom.

  14. ha, good point, I fully plan on reminding them of this one day! :)

  15. Not sure I have too many suggestions at this point. I normally try to have a yummy snack for them and let them run around outside. I also try to have some sort of coloring or activity for them to do with me as it facilitates them discussing their day. Hot chocolate and marshmallows in winter gets them talking as well. Now the kids will have homework which they didn't have last year, so it'll be a whole new ball-game. Guess I'll have to wait and see how it goes!

  16. Thank you, LeAnn...all Mothers are related! :)

  17. We have the same problem. I told the kids that whoever draws the #1 seat gets to also say the prayer at dinner (unless Dad is there and then he gets to choose.) That solves at least one prayer fight a day I guess! ;) It's not the worst problem to have, right? :)

  18. ha! I have to make them close their eyes while they pick numbers or they'll peek! :)

  19. We always sat in the same places at dinner too...I have no idea who decided where we'd sit or why. We also held hands during the prayer...a tradition we carry on today. There were days when I REALLY did not want to hold the hand of the person next to me...and other times we squeezed hands a lot during the prayer.

  20. Oh that is an awesome idea for a solution! My kids always fight over who gets to sit in the middle or say the prayer first- haha. We've worked it out pretty well but that seems kind of like an extra fun way to do it. Looks like you've had an awesome summer- what beautiful pictures from all your blog posts. Its so fun to keep up with everyone over fb and blogs. Thanks for sharing Jocelyn ;) luv ya, CK

  21. Hehehhhe :D This made me chuckle just remembering "the days"! For us it was who got to ride in which seat in the car, always a source of contention until one day . . . . we decided upon a weekly seat rotation. Designated seats were decided upon, then each week they rotated so someone always was rotating through all the different seats in the car. Can't believe how many arguments were avoided over the years because of that one :)


  22. Our kids totally argue about that too! Drives me nuts. I also MAKE them rotate seats EVERY time we get in the car...no matter how brief the trip! It has cut down on fights, but it's still a hassle. I'm hoping they don't care quite as much about seating when they get a bit older, but I guess we'll see! :)