quiet(er) dinners
From: Anne Fleck (soliannacablespeed.com)
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2006 23:10:46 -0800 (PST)

This is what's worked for us so far - 5+ years in - at Jackson Place Coho - Seattle.

We have a short list (5-6) of expectations posted in our dining room. (IE no running, indoor voices, clean tables after eating, etc). Kids and adults have agreed to these. Anybody can remind people of these.

We have a kids team (sporadically) that includes kids to help formulate acceptable behavior guidelines. They are for everyone. Note: If you tell your kids they can not walk around the room with food then you (adult) better not either.

We have Armstrong tiles on the dining room ceiling. It was evident how effective these were when we'd only installed 1/4 of the room. Cheap, easy, we did it ourselves (after lots of discussion and organization). Huge difference.

We installed Levelour style mini blinds on all of the windows (3 sides of the room) which, when angled horizontally, create a curved surface which reduces reflected noise off the glass PLUS providing an available & effective sun block and a bit of heat insulation.

Our dining chairs are upholstered in durable fabric. A few have vinyl covers for kid seats. Cuts the noise, too.

We have a kids room for smaller kids and a living room for older kids w/ TV & games.

We included soft furniture (overstuffed sofa and chairs) in the dining room which helps reduce sound bounce. Plus a piano which doesn't - BUT you can't play during dinner.

We have some parents who have let their kids know that meals are quiet family time. Their kids are expected to sit at the table until the big hand is on the X and the little hand is on the Y. It works. Often, another adult holds a noisy little one or talks with an older one while the parent enjoys a quieter meal and conversation.

Some nights are better than others. Since we've found that our meal program is the glue that holds things together we have a large turn-out each meal (35-40 out of 65 people). I know that each member tolerates the noise and/or "chaos" at least occasionally in order to enjoy the company of their neighbors and a good meal.

Good luck,
Anne Fleck JPC - Seattle

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