So the kids are out of school for four days and you have twenty people coming to dinner. What do you do with them while you’re cooking, cleaning, decorating and preparing? Here are a few tips to help take some of the kid stress from the holiday.
Include them. Children like to be a part of things. Get them to help make the meal. The more they participate, the more they appreciate what you do. They may not appreciate it when they’re five, but when they’re 25, they’ll remember helping mom stir the gravy. We have a picture of my two-year-old granddaughter stirring the batter for the cornbread. She’ll love to see this some day.
- Assign tasks. Let the older kids be in charge of something more challenging such as setting the table with your good china. The younger kids can place the napkins and flatware. So what if they aren’t in the correct order or perfectly placed? It has the hallmark of a child who wanted to help and who got to do something important.
- Let them decorate. My girls loved making the paper turkeys from their hands, the pinecone turkeys and the
pipe cleaner napkins rings. Thanksgiving is about being thankful and I am always so thankful for the enthusiasm they had to participate. I say, let them have at it. Who knows, you may discover the next Monet or Renoir lives in your family.
- Take a break. Take a few minutes to watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show, or whatever else is a favorite of your family. In ours, no matter what I was doing, I turned off the stove to go sit with my ladies to watch the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My mom did that with me, and my girls will do that with their girls.
- Don’t be too regimented. If you are tied to the clock then you are missing out on some fun opportunities to spend time with your kids and family. One Christmas my youngest daughter got Rock Band from Santa. We had so much fun playing that game, that dinner was a bit late. About five hours past the normal feast time, but we all had a great holiday.
I love cooking the feast, but I love it more when I get to share it with my family, especially my girls. As they got older it became even more important to show them how to make the family dishes, how to know when the turkey was done, and most importantly how to laugh at oneself. For example Sami likes to remind me of the Thanksgiving I had a horrible cold and took too many cold pills. I couldn’t understand why the turkey didn’t look very plump. I called Sami, five at the time, into the kitchen for her opinion and after a few minutes’ inspection we both realized I had placed it in the oven upside down. We still laugh about that one.
I hope these few tips help you have a great holiday. Take time to hug, laugh and create memories with your children.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving,