Mealtimes can be challenging for the best of us; toddler tantrums with a lot of spilt milk, fussy eaters refusing their dinner, and it’s often a real challenge to maintain calm. This series will be focusing on the small and simple things we can do to bring positive vibes into our daily lives with some Islamic influence to guide us – small acts with big rewards inshAllah.
Acknowledgment: This series has been inspired by and is adapted from The Muslim Mums magazine Issue 4 (circa 2008) (Small Changes make Big Muslims: Instilling Islam in your children).
- Start with Bismillah – Remember these special words before each meal followed by the translation. We also use this moment to throw in a bit of gratitude and say “Thank you to Allah” (Alhamdulillah) for blessing us with food to eat.
MMM Tip: Toddlers love overacting and overhyping. One way to make this into a fun game is playing the “Gasp, oh no, we forgot to say Bismillah” just as the kids get ready to take their first bite. This will hopefully get some laughs and make this into a fun game.
- Try to eat at least one meal a day with your children – This can be tough, especially if you have a busy life, and we all know too well that kids’ mealtimes are often used as a spare few minutes to unload the dishwasher or prepare your own dinner for later, whilst they are preoccupied. However, where you can, try to make the effort to sit with them.
Mealtimes are a great time for us as parents to role model positive eating habits and engage with our children. They present a beautiful learning opportunity to talk about our food, our faith, and our blessings. Use this occasion when you’re all seated together and really make each second count.
MMM Tip: Use this time to pick something to talk about, e.g. something interesting you/they have learnt that day or even something you can praise your child on for the day.
- Switch off the screen – We know it’s hard and using a screen is often a tool many of us reach for to make mealtimes smooth, but if it’s a habit, try and shake it for a meal here and there and build this up to eliminating it as much as you can.
Being engaged with our food encourages mindful eating, which has many benefits, and is a great way to encourage your child to build a positive relationship with food. This goes hand in hand with the Islamic principle which discourages overeating.
- Encourage good mealtime manners – Focus on the positives and praise them when they remember not to speak with their mouthful or when they wait patiently for their meal. Try to avoid telling them what not to do as this can often backfire and create a negative connotation.
We want to breed positive language and encourage positive behaviour (this will hopefully knock out the things we don’t like to see without us having to use negative language).
- Practice Islamic etiquettes of eating – This could definitely be an article in itself, however as per the ethos of this series we’re keeping it short and simple. Below are some positive habits to start with:
- Washing your hands before and after eating
- Sitting down whilst eating
- Eating with the right hand
- Eating the food that is closest to us
- Not eating too much (overeating)
- Not blowing on hot food
- Sharing our food
What are your top tips for making mealtimes easy? Leave us a comment below.