Healthy Holiday Harvest: Get your kids involved

November 14th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Courtney Brewer, Live Well Omaha Kids

116012151Preparing for Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming undertaking. For my family, we’re usually either traveling to my parents’ home in South Dakota for Thanksgiving or heading over to my in-laws’ home here in Omaha. Both my mom and my mother-in-law are masters at Thanksgiving Day dinner. They make it look easy, but I know that they’ve spent days planning, prepping, cooking and cleaning to get ready for everyone.

Only twice in my life have I taken on the challenge of actually hosting Thanksgiving. Once I was in college and (I’ll admit) my mom pretty much did all of the work. I just cleaned the house before they got there and assisted where my mom needed it. The second time, my husband and I (pre-children), invited both of our families and didn’t let them lift a finger. We carefully planned out the meal, scouring the internet for tasty recipes that were sure to impress. Then we spent hours making our house spotless and decorating for a bountiful Thanksgiving feast. It was exhausting, but worth it.

Thanksgiving can be a lot of work, but you don’t have to do all the work by yourself! Make it a family affair by getting the entire gang involved — assigning age-appropriate tasks to your children. By getting them involved, they will not just be more willing to try the dishes, but they will take more pride in the meal in front of them.

Kids.gov gives us some great ideas on tasks for the entire family (and I added a couple of my own):

  • Meal planning: Sit down with everyone before Thanksgiving and plan your menu. Find out what foods your kids want to eat and what new foods they would be willing to try. Use this time to explain the importance of having a balanced meal that includes turkey, vegetables and a variety of other dishes.
  • House cleaning: You’re not the only one that can pull out the vacuum and dust rag. Make a list of everything that needs to get done — go through that list with your family and let them pick what they want to do. Then, split up the leftover tasks and assign them.
  • Decorating: Everyone loves a festive table. Enlist your kids to make crafts to display on the table — like place setting cards. Also, have them create a “What I’m thankful for” card for each setting for family members to fill out and share their thoughts during the meal.
  • Table setting: Ask your youngsters to help set the dinner table. They can fold napkins, set out the plates, put ice cubes in the water glasses. They can also carry plated dishes to the serving area. Teach your children how to properly set the table with this printable placemat.
  • Meal prep: If your children are old enough, have them help with the food prep. Chopping vegetables, mashing potatoes or arranging food on platters are easy but time-consuming tasks that they can assist you with.
  • Clean up: Put your spouse and kids in charge of clearing the table. Let them scrape and rinse dishes before loading the dishwasher or get them to sweep the floor before they’re allowed to have dessert.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for family, friends and fun… so don’t let it stress you out. Use all of these great ideas, as well as those on our Pinterest board, to take the weight off of your shoulders and share the workload. This will make the meal more fun and the entire family will get involved!

 

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