Attention Getter: I served dessert first. (I mean if we are going to talk about the end of the meal manners, we have to be at the end of the meal, right?) My kids were happy and surprised to see cookies on the table when they came to dinner.
Manner: I pitched the lesson as the “5 things to do at the end of a meal”: (I find info easier to remember if I know how many things I have to remember.)
1. Put your soiled napkin to the left of your plate. The napkin should never go on your plate.
2. Put your utensils on your plate at the 5:20 position with the tines of the fork facing down. A simpler way to explain it is the handles point to the 5 and the tops face the 10.
3. Clean up your area as much as possible. If at home, clear your plate (and napkin, and cup, and silverware).
4. Push in your chair.
5. Thank your host.
Why: The end of meal manners just help to make mom’s job easier and/or a waiter’s job easier. The utensils on the plate signal to the waiter that you are finished eating and then also aid in clearing the plate. If everyone scoots in their own chair and clears their own plate, clean-up goes faster.
Practice: I set the table with paper plates. I had the kids draw a clock on the plates. We practiced before dinner what the 5:20 position looks like with our utensils. (For younger kids, just be glad if they get the utensils on the plate.) We ate off the plates and then they could put their utensils in the correct position at the end of the meal.
Follow-Up: I just try to say “thank you” to my children as much as I can when I see them following a manner at the end of the meal. “Thank you for clearing your plate” or “Thank you for scooting your chair in” goes a long way.