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Big families and meal time....


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So this isn't of uber importance in the grand scheme do life, but my husband and I are wondering...

 

Do you have 2 sets of salt and pepper shakers, 2 things of jam/butter, etc? We put a leaf in our table to accommodate our 5 kiddos, and we are constantly reaching, even getting up to reach the stuff that we need. All of my kids are under 7, so they're not really able to pass much of anything yet.

 

Breakfast is the worst. Everyone wants the butter and syrup at the same time. AHHH!

 

What do you do?

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We have five kids, ages 4-12 and no, we don't have double of anything.  

 

We might fix plates differently than other families though.  Dh and I sit next to each other on one end with all of the serving dishes on our end of the table.  I keep all of the plates in a pile at my place rather than have them set at each place before meals.  Dh and I dish out the food for everyone except my 12 year old's food (he sits next to me and can reach the food) and pass their plates to them.  That includes any buttering or syrup or anything like that as well as cutting their food up if needed.  Salt and pepper could be passed to our older kids, but they don't really care for it.  If a child wants seconds on something that needs a condiment, we will pass it down for them to do it themselves, depending on what it is. (real maple syrup they don't get to do on their own (too expensive and they tend to pour too much); butter, pb, jam, etc. the older kids (8, 10 & 12) can do on their own, sometimes our 5 year old as well.  We don't seem to spend a lot of time or trouble passing items, so it doesn't seem that we need double of items.  That's just more for us to put on the table and clear off the table and store, lol.  

 

We will see how it goes as everyone gets older and capable of doing things themselves, but since I don't think our family will grow in number, I don't think we will need to double up in the future either.  

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I grew up as one of 6 (5 of us in 3 years), we did not have doubles of things. We just passed everything around the table, but all 8 of us usually only ate together for one meal per day. I think having two butter and syrup dishes would be an inexpensive solution.

 

Since your kids are all young you could fix their plates ahead of time too. My mom had a daycare during my high school/college years so she generally fixed the little kids plates before taking them to the table. I only have 3 kids but that's what I do, I also find it's easier to cut food up in the kitchen than work my way around the table.

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We have eight kids an serve every single meal buffet style. If they want seconds of anything it's on the counter. So I will lay out butter and syrup next to the waffles and it stays there. They fix it for themselves and their buddy and then sit and eat. Get up for seconds and its all still at the counter.

 

We are so much happier and our meals so much more peaceful since we adopted this policy. No more passing at the table ;)

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We have six kids 4-12.  At our house, condiments and such usually stay on the island counter for the duration of the meal.  Sometimes bbq sauce or syrup ends up on the table.  Mostly, I stand at the counter and fix plates and then sit down last.  It is not unusual for some of the kids to be finished before I get there.  We do not do a "sit down dinner," where we're all seated at the same time, every night (very unlike how I grew up).

 

Breakfast is self-serve for the older kids.  I fix food for the younger kids if they need help.

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Well, I only have 4 but I fix plates and season, I then set the table, we say our blessing. I leave everything like salt, pepper, butter, jelly by the pots and pans at the stove. So, they get up and grab something if they need it. It should return but typically just gets passed around. We try to fully serve, season and dress our foods at the stove. Mine are all fairly old though. 8 years to 11

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Since the majority of my family would take 1 piece of veggie, 2-3 servings of meat and a 1/2 plate of the starch, I plate everyone's food just to make sure they get reasonable portions and there is enough of all parts for everyone.  Our kitchen/dining area is small so I actually do it from the stove, and everyone grabs their plate and I add whatever condiment they want before they go and sit down.  If they want more of something I send them back to the cooking dishes on the stove and they can help themselves to whatever they want and add condiments as needed so we rarely have anything to pass.  Our stove is literally about 5 feet from the dining table so it's not really a hardship or disruptive to the meal to have people getting up for more food.

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Not generally doubles of things, but only four eat as of yet, and some of them still need help with stuff anyway. We serve family style most of the time. We have DH at the head, with 5yo on the side on DH's left, with me on the 5yo's left. 2yo is at the foot, on my left, and 11yo is on 2yo's left, right across from me, with the 8yo on 11yo's left, right across from 5yo, on DH's right. Splits up the often-silly boy crew, and it means that between DH, 11yo, and me, someone can easily pass things or help a small boy cut meat or whatever.

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We don't have a need for doubles.  I load up their plates in the kitchen, and set them out on the table.

If the kid is early for supper, he just puts the butter, ketchup, or whatever on his food before we all gather & pray.

It's fun to read what others do.  We're a family of 7, but only 5 now still at home.

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There are only five of us at the table, but we have double salt and pepper shakers. 

 

Our household is me and dh, our two kids, and my mom. I sit in the middle of the table and became sick to death of passing the salt and pepper back and forth so bought a second set. It felt like every time I raised the fork to my mouth someone was asking me to pass the salt.

 

Like a PP, I start the meal with both kids' plates on top of my own. I dish out the food, cut what is necessary, add butter/seasonings as appropriate and hand to the kids. So much better than passing the plates back and forth or circling the table.

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We will have 4 with a wide age spread, so I don't have this problem yet.

 

If it will make your life easier, why not have two sets? If it doesn't work, you'll use the butter and syrup anyway! It makes sense. Waiting for 6 other people would take a while and cold pancakes are sad. What about two little lazy Susans at each end of the table?

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There are only 4 of us. Our dining room table will hold up to ten. Even during big meals I don't have duplicates of anything on the table. We tend to spend at least an hour at the table, so I put everything out there when it's just us so we don't have to get up or down. For large gatherings I set up a buffet on the kitchen table, but put all of the bread and condiments on the dining room table.

 

When my son was in preschool, they taught the kids to all politely pass and use the pitchers to pour, spoons to serve, etc . . . This was a class of developmentally delayed children, so I believe MOST small children can do this with a little direction and practice. Nothing on their table was too large for their small hands, but they weren't using toy dishes either. Thy even refilled their own drinks and spills were infrequent. They never put salt on the table.

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There are currently 7 of us at home, although in times past, there were up to 12.  We have double salt and pepper at my dh's request.  We have everything on our table because we eat in our dining room, and we like everyone sitting down at mealtimes.  Two or three people serve and everyone passes their plate so that it can be "loaded".  If there are enough adultish people eating, dishes are passed, but it can be hard for smaller people to pass large containers, especially when they're hot.  

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I have 5 ages 1-12.  My dh isn't home for dinner 3 nights a week also.  I have an assigned kitchen helper (rotates weekly) and, especially on the nights dh isn't home, the 2 of us fix plates together at the counter/island and put them on the table.

 

When dh is home, we generally have 1 main dish that he and I dish up and pass plates, and then we pass around sides, including any toppings.  I think it's a nice mix, actually, and it teaches us all a little patience on the nights when we pass food around! 

 

Sarah

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We have 7 kids with one on the way.  My oldest will be 12 tomorrow.  We dish up in the kitchen (I hated having to look around all the food/pots on the table to hold a conversation.  Plus now we have a map on the table and usually like to see as much as possible to discuss what we see. Anyhow we say prayer then dish up youngest to oldest in the kitchen.  Generally everyone sits at the table and comes into the kitchen one or two at a time.  Often with the oldest two I just tell them to come dish up themselves.  They know the expectations, that they take veggies and stuff.  We season and sauce at the same time.  DH often handles the seasonings and sauce.  We do keep 1 salt and pepper shaker on the table for extra seasoning.  And ask to pass.  I imagine more butter and syrup dishes would only equal more messes to clean up in my world.  I probably wouldn't do it lol.

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We have two set of S/P and butter.  When we have pancakes/waffles, two bottles go on the table.  It keeps things moving smoothly and it's much easier for my dh and I to grab something when the kids need help. 

I find serving from the stove is easiest for our family of 6, but if we're having something I know we generally eat seconds of (mac and cheese for example) I do bring that pot to the table after serving the first plates. 

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Sometimes I'll put biscuits/rolls/scones in two baskets, one at each end of the table, but we don't usually double what's placed on the table. We probably should, as we've got a long narrow table and usually have 7-10 people eating with us, depending on who's home and who's got friends over.

 

Dh usually dishes up the main dish, unless it's something easy to pass. Everything else gets passed around the table. We host exchange students, so it makes a good way for them to practice their English even if they feel a little shy--if you want more of something you've got to ask for it to be passed to you! ;)

 

It will get easier once your children are more able to pass things easily.

 

And I really enjoy reading about how different families serve dinner. :) I must be easily entertained.

 

Cat

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