Being a parent with young children at a potluck requires skill, determination and a lot of patience. Here are some tips for potluck patience with children.
Oh, the potluck.
How many of you get to go to a potluck at least once every couple of months? Whether it is for church or a family reunion, I’m sure we have all experienced fun potluck times in our lives. I mean, where else can you eat 12 different variations of Jell-O? It can be a great time of eating and talking.
*If you don’t have children, that is.*
My husband and I are blessed to have four children. We work hard to teach our children patience. Nothing tries a child’s patience like long tables full of food and having to wait in line to get some of it!
The Art of Potlucks
:: Find a table
Table placement is key to happy pot lucking. You DON’T want to be near the food line so everyone who is after you getting food looks at your plate longingly as they shuffle slowly by. You know what I mean. You might have done it yourself once or twice! Find a spot at the end of the table for the high chair (if necessary), count to make sure there are enough seats for your crew and go as far away from the line as possible. You will avoid potential food theft (joking, of course!) and possibly be picked first to get in line. In my experience, if there is someone choosing the table dismissal order, the chooser is usually strategic and picks the table farthest away from the food to go first. They just do.
If you sit near the food line, it also reminds your children that they don’t have any food and they aren’t in line yet. This will potentially cause a small riot to break out at your table in the form of tears, whining and/or climbing under the table. Sometimes all three.
:: The Balancing Act
Children + Sunday clothes + plates of food= stains. And tears. And lots of Shout stain remover.
I think my record for plate holding through a potluck line is three. The challenge is balancing three plates while trying to put food on the correct plate.
“I don’t want green beans!”
“It’s not for you!”
It’s a balancing act of plates and patience.
Team up with your spouse and divide and conquer. Divide the children up, decide who is going to get the lemonade and when your table is called, hit the ground running. Whatever you do, don’t forget the dessert.
:: Fed and in Bed
Potlucks throw a curve ball at our favorite Sunday saying. After we get the children home from church, our motto is: Fed and in Bed. Potlucks have the fed part taken care of for us, but the naptime is always delayed. Delayed naptime means unhappy children which means unhappy parents which means uncontrollable fits (theirs or ours-depends on the day). If we managed to get a great table, balance all the plates with minimal spillage, and eat while the food is still somewhat warm, then we only have one hurdle left.
Will the naps still happen even though we are 1+ hour after normal naptime?
Oh, how we pray they will.
What is the secret to naptime success? I’m not sure there is one. I think we just have to accept a nap may or may not occur on those potluck days. If you resign yourself to that fact early on, you can come to a peace about it that much quicker.
Think of it this way, when it is all over and you are home, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done. Feel good you made it through stain-free. (Hopefully.) And maybe, just maybe, if you have any dessert leftover from what you brough, you can grab a fork with your spouse and start munching away.
Nobody will see you.