Life is busy, there are so many things pulling us in every direction. Getting the family to sit down, put all distractions aside to eat together might feel like an impossible task. Maybe it is just you and your spouse, or maybe you have a table full of busy children. Whatever the situation is I am sure we can think of many reasons why family dinners do not always make it into our day. However, family dinners offer a unique time that can create more harmony in your home and help strengthen family bonds.
One way to add family dinners into your routine is to add them to the calendar. Maybe every night sounds like an overwhelming idea at first, so start smaller. Pick one day a week that is the least busy day on your calendar and get your family involved so you know everyone’s schedule. Once you pick a day during the week, stick to it. If your kids are older you can even send out a text reminder so they can make sure to be home on time. Going through the extra step of planning can make dinners together a reality for your family.
Another way to make dinner time a positive experience is to remove distractions. Looking around my home right now I can see several things that can be major distractions at the dinner table. If you have teens, as I do, you know how distracting cell phones are. Creating a no phone zone at the table can help lessen distractions and set the stage for a chance to communicate as a family. Another major distraction is TV. Every Friday night we have pizza and watch a movie together. Over the years we have gone from eating pizza at the table together, to just eating in front of the TV on Friday nights. A few weeks ago, I noticed this shift and reminded my husband how important it was to not have distractions when we are eating together. Distractions make it harder to listen and to talk, so turn off, or put down those distractions and be present at the table.
One of the positive benefits of family dinners is to give all members of your family a chance to be heard which helps build positive self-esteem. Each of my children loves to talk about their day, they love being in the spotlight and having us hang on their every word. They feel so special that we are listening to them and responding to their thoughts. It empowers my children to voice their thoughts or even silly dreams they had the night before without fear of judgment from their family. The table creates a unique opportunity for discussions that might not happen anywhere else in your home.
While around my table there seems to be no shortage of conversation, maybe your family is different and finds it harder to find topics to talk about. That is ok, every family is different. One easy way to start talking at the table is to go around and have everyone share two sweets and a sour. This helps them recognize the positive things in their day, while also appreciating the struggles, and what they learn because of it. I love hearing what my kids experienced in a day and this is a fun and simple way to get people talking. Another way to spark conversation is to have a mason jar of questions at your table. These questions can be tailored to the age of your children, or even if you do not have kids yet. There are so many questions that can result in some interesting discussions around your table.
Last, keep it simple. Dinner together does not mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen beforehand preparing an elaborate meal unless that is your thing. Dinner can be takeout, as long as you are eating together dinner can be whatever works for your family. Dinners as a family are supposed to be a positive experience, so make sure you are not overwhelming yourself in the process.
This week set aside one night to eat together as a family. I have included a worksheet with questions to get your family talking! Share with us on our Facebook page how your family dinner went.