From an early age, I was taught the importance of good table manners. And I still think good manners should apply to a certain degree, as I’ve seen how they have shaped my interactions with people – and I think for the better. So as a family, we try to make it a point at least several times a week to sit down and eat together.
The first rule at the dinner table is to wash your hands. Secondly, everyone is reminded about sitting up straight – especially more so if there are guests. I have always taught my kids to have consideration for any guests we have for dinner, that it’s polite to have them served first. The golden rule is that the napkin is used to wipe your mouth and fingers if you’re eating finger foods like corn on the cob.
I also like to remind the family that there’s a time and place for everything – and at the dinner table, the time is for eating dinner and not watching “The Price Is Right”. So there’s no TV until dinner is finished. I also like to have matching plates and cups on the dinner table, as I think it looks really neat and tidy. Until, that is, my four-year old daughter takes her seat. “Mummy I don’t want this plate, I want my clear plate with the stars. Mummy, can I have my green cup? Mummy, I want my Dora fork and knife…” and eventually I give up and just surrender to save my sanity.
If we’re having a BBQ, it can get quite boisterous as we take in the smells from the meat and sausages and everyone is getting quite hungry. The table manners can get more relaxed as we are usually dining outside and kids have to be rounded up after playing. Still, the same rules apply: wash your hands and wait until everyone is seated before eating. If there’s chicken, we tend use our hands but never lick our fingers, it’s just bad manners. Oh, we always thank the cook in the end.