I’m a firm believer that you should teach your children, from a very early age, to clear your plate (actually, all adults plates) from the dinner table.*
I’m not talking child labor, or power trips. On the surface, this may sound more like a parenting tip from the 1800’s than a self-care tip, but go with me for a minute.
Why teach your kids to wait on you? First, it’s good for them. It shows respect. It’s a simple, dedicated job. It encourages them to be helpful.
Even if I get up right after, there’s something wonderful about them taking the lead by clearing my plate.
There are also downstream effects. It teaches them manners, and sets them up to be helpful when they are in other people’s homes. It sends the message that it is their responsibility to (sometimes) take care of you. In some way they begin to realize that they are showing gratitude.
But the best reason for doing it is it just feels so darn fabulous every time they do it! I can’t help but smile. I always say thank you, even though I gave them the job. Over time, as it becomes something they do out of habit, they get a kick out of it, too. It’s a win-win for everyone.
So the next time you start clearing the dinner table – stop! Ask for help, and eventually set the expectation that it’s the kids’ job to clear away the dishes from the table – all of the dishes. It’s the best of both worlds: a teachable moment that feels fabulous, all at the same time!
* This presumes that you are having a family dinner, of course. Whether we are doing it regularly, or not, the advantages have been demonstrated, so I won’t go further.
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