Earlier this summer Chris volunteered to set the table if we could start eating dinner in the dining room. Our dining room is carpeted and the antique Duncan Phyfe table combined with the white upholstery on the chairs made me leary of letting small children eat regular meals in that room. Chris was adament that this was something he wanted to try and the little boys were excited about setting the nice table and using the good placemats so I decided to let them eat Saturday dinners in the dining room and we would practice our "good" manners (instead of our evil manners).
After about three weeks of eating Saturday dinner in the dining room we started eating most dinners in there. Chris and Sam set the table every night (a new chore) and Jake takes out the salt and pepper and napkins.
In the beginning I thought it would be more work to eat in the dining room. I was scared the kids would make a mess and I'd wind up with even more stuff I had to do. It's actually easier than eating in the kitchen. We don't have to look at the mess left from cooking. I can move around the kitchen table without tripping over kids sitting in chairs waiting for me to serve food. The kids set the table. All I have to do is carry the plates to the table (we use Fiestaware and it's heavy). The boys love choosing which placemats we're using and which color plates we're eating on every night. They all know which side of the plate the forks go on and can usually place the salad and place forks correctly.
It's been a good thing. I'm glad that I gave in and let the kids fuss around with setting the dining room table. Dinner is actually less stressful and less work than it was while we were eating in the kitchen. We still eat breakfast and lunch in the kitchen, but there are fewer people being served for those meals and we are more informal. All three boys have gotten into the new routine. Chris and Sam have also started making the salad or vegetable for dinner. Setting the table has made them more aware of how many dishes need to be carried out before we can begin eating. They also realize that they can help more and by helping have more input about what we're eating.