“LIMES!” she squealed as she thumbed lemon wedges over the top of our dinner.

We hadn’t expected that as we walked back in the room last Friday. It was as if she’d done a Little Britain-style leap up onto the table!

And to be honest, it was the perfect start to the meal – once we’d battled her off the table of course!

I say ‘perfect’ because she was automatically in a great mood and she infected everyone else with her joy.

The tactile nature of squeezing lemons, sending citrus bombs left, right & centre and providing a valuable service to the family gave her a happy boost. And so, she didn’t resist the meal. I can’t remember if she ate much of it, but I do remember that she didn’t resist.

The lemon wedges were the trick this time, but what other ideas could make the start of a meal less challenging? Here are some thoughts:

You know I’m going to say: Laying the table. My kids are quite resistant, but if yours are up for laying the table and carrying things in, good for you, keep it up.

Choosing the tunes. Take it in turns to keep it fair or build your own family playlist. Either way, music is handy for warming up fractious transitions to the table.

Fruit or veg first. Might seem like a bonkers plan, but I’ve been experimenting with fruit first and it definitely dispels bad moods. Veg first is also great if you’re waiting for something to finish cooking or cool down.

Talk about Talk. Make a point of saying what you’d like to chat about or hear all about. e.g. school trip, music lesson, friendship drama, homework project etc etc

If you can find a moment, sit down and play a game or read a book together. A moment to indulge in quality time just prior to serving food has the potential to help fussy eating immeasurably. Tricky when you’re orchestrating teatime though, but worth a try if you’re feeling the multitasking vibe.

Construction food like fajitas, tacos, kofta wraps, pittas, etc are great for getting little people involved.

Condiments. It’s ok to let the mayo and ketchup flow. Kids enjoy the familiarity. And it gives them the power they need!

What do you do? Ideas please! X