Back in the good-ol’ days when I was growing up, family dinners were something that happened EVERY night. It wasn’t just the four of us sitting on the sofa or at the counter eating whatever we wanted to eat, no. Family dinners were made by Mom and eaten at the TABLE, no exceptions.
I suspect that many of you who grew up in the 80’s may have had a similar experience. Dinner time was an important time back then. It wasn’t just about the food, but about sitting together, across from one another, sharing our days. Dinner time was usually the time when triumphs were shared (like that “A” I received on my Gold Rush report) as well as moments in our day that maybe weren’t as triumphant (like when my friend became upset with me for playing with someone else). Dinner time was a time for CONNECTION.
Today we live in a much different world. We live with a constant stream of media coming from our televisions, our phones and other devices. We live in a world where the likelihood of a stay-at-home parent is less than when we grew up, although recent polls suggest that may be changing. We live in a world where every moment of our child’s day is scheduled, not only with school activities, but after-school sports, music and dance. With all of these moments in our daily life that feel so out of control, it seems it’s more important than ever to find the time to connect with our families… truly CONNECT.
Dinner time is the PERFECT time to connect with our family. Plus, everyone needs to eat in the evening, so why not sit down around the table for thirty minutes and enjoy a meal with the people you love the most?
You may be wondering how in the world you could possibly manage getting everyone to sit down at the table most nights every week. Here are some ideas that may help you start enjoying family dinners with your family.
I know this one is hard. It sometimes feel as though it is impossible to find time every night to sit down as a family, let alone set aside the SAME time every night. However, children, and adults alike, crave some sort of routine in their day. They want to know what is coming and when. For example, having dinner every night between 5 and 6 may allow your kiddos to be more efficient with the time they have after school, and potentially be done with homework and projects by the time you sit down to eat. If your schedule really is extremely hectic, then at the very least, schedule an evening tea time, hot cocoa time, or a morning family breakfast time where everyone sits around the table, enjoying one another and their treat or meal.
Make it fun!
Family dinners should be fun. Make a meal something your children look forward to by incorporating a game or even some fun questions to ask. In our household, we always ask, “What was your favorite part of the day?” We go around the table and everyone answers the question and then explains why it was their favorite. This question alone stimulates so much positive conversation around the dinner table and will keep you engaged with your family even after your meal is complete.
Make it easy!
Just because you are sitting down around the table does not mean that you have to toil away at the kitchen for hours before. In fact, if you do spend a lot of time creating a meal for your family then you may begin to feel burned out fairly quickly, meaning your family dinners may not be consistent. Instead find some easy recipes by doing a simple search online. There are a great variety of recipes out there today including those that will satisfy any food allergies and avoidances. For health reasons, a few in my family are both gluten and dairy-free, but even with those restrictions, we can easily find recipes that the whole family can enjoy. I have also recently found several sheet-pan dinners that not only allow you to get dinner on the table in around 30 minutes, but that are super yummy too. The easier you can make your dinner preparations, the more likely you will be to continue the effort. Should you have an exceptionally crazy afternoon and you know that there is no way dinner is going to make it onto the table by your hands, that’s ok too! With the amount of apps we have today that allow food to be delivered wherever and whenever we wish, you are covered there too! Ordering everyone’s favorite grub can be a fun break and it will still allow you to sit around the table and have that precious family time.
Being together as a family is more important than ever. Taking a moment to connect and laugh together each and every day will continue to create strong bonds within your family that will last a lifetime. Dinners, breakfasts, or tea together will give your family the time to reconnect and truly enjoy one another and the life you have built together.