Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How do we make family dinner happen...most nights!

This week the family meal is on my brain.  So today I thought I would share how we make a family dinner work most nights.  Here are just a few my thoughts on family dinner time. 

TIMING:  Ed and I communicate on when he thinks he will be home that evening.  Sometimes he runs late becuase of his commute and that means from time to time that we have to eat without him.  But most nights he is able to give me a rough estimate and I use this to begin planning.

FLEXIBILITY:  If our dinner hour is going to be normal then we go about our afternoon like normal.  But if I know he is going to be later ...then I organize our late afternoon activities and snacks so that this hard time between naps and dinner goes as smooth as possible.  Moving snack later and going on an outing like the library or the park helps.

FIRM:  I am NOT a short order cook. I make one meal and that is what we will all eat - if we choose. AS THE ADULT I believe my job is to decide:

What food is offered.
When the food is offered.
Where it will be eaten.

And my boys can go from there and decide:
  If they will eat.
What they will eat.
How much they will eat.

However, because I don't make my boys something different than the main meal, I do make sure that within the meal presented there is something that I know they like...whether it be the maindish or a side dish.  If I am making something new and "scary" then I make sure to provide at least one side dish that is safe and "not scary".  Last night my boys ate a TON of cantelope and not too much of the main dish...which was fine with me.

Fun:  Talk, laugh, and enjoy the time together.  Ask about your days - Peeks and Valleys or favorite parts.  Teach your children to talk among themselves while mommy and daddy talk about something "adult".  Pick a topic to discuss like summer fun, sports, their favorite toy, dream vacations.  Talk about worries or use the time to go over safety information...fire drills, answering the phone, stranger danger.  Enjoy the quiet and let your children be a little silly or lead the conversation.  Have everyone come to the table with a fact to share or a joke to tell (decide the night before so there is time to prepare).  Take turns saying prayer or go around and give thanks.  Eat out on the picnic table or on a blanket in your yard. 


A little thought can make things flow and make this time of your day the best!  Does it have to happen EVERY night- Nope!  But in our house, we make an effort and we are starting early so that it is an expectation when the nights roll around when the boys are older - making their own plans and having their own commitments.  I figure, if we make it a habit and we make it fun - then it will be something they don't want to miss. 

This is linked to Tuesday's Unwrapped and 30 Minute Blog Challenge.

9 comments:

Beth said...

You hang tough on this one, Sarah! We didn't and we slid (without noticing) into the habit of eating in separate rooms on TV trays with TVs on. I wish we hadn't and I'm not sure how to reverse the trend now! Especially when the table is covered with laundry! :)

Jamie said...

Funny how we live in a society now where we have to work at this one. When I was growing up in a family of 8 it was a done deal without discussion.

Nic said...

I agree! I'm not a short order cook either. You eat what I fix or you don't get a snack that evening. Just how it is. With 4 kids someone is always NOT going to like something.

Hattie said...

Great post! Most of the time my boys will not eat, so we have a bite rule. They have to take a bite (how many bites depends on their age)of everything on their plate. I will also make them something else if me & Justin are eating something that is too spicy for them, but that's the only time!

Just recently Justin started eating dinner at the table w/ me & the boys and now dinner time is my favorite time of day!

Susan Tipton said...

We've done this since day one- my oldest is 18, youngest is 2. They would all think it weird not to eat as a family.

Sometimes it's fun, sometimes noisy, sometimes irritable- but it keeps us all connected.

Meghan said...

EXACT same story here! Too bad we can't get together for dinner dates. :(

Kmama said...

That is some great advice. Because of Buddy's food allergies, I'm often making separate meals for him (or both boys). It's frustrating...but at least I know he'll pretty much always eat what I make him.

One Take On Life - Heather said...

We always eat together as a family, unless Andy is working late. But even then, me and the kids still sit down together. It is important. I don't know why more people don't do it.

I too grew up with family meals. I always knew when dinner was...it was when the church bells chimed in our neighborhood at 6pm. I can still hear those bells.

se7en said...

We always eat together - breakfast, lunch and the father person is home for supper... he often works late but it is worth staying up a bit later to spend time with him and sleep a bit later in the morning or have an afternoon rest to catch up!!! Sometimes it's chaos, with a heap of kids but mostly it is time to connect with all of us!!! I grew up in a home where we never ever ate together and it is intentional that my kids know no other way - seriously the family that plays together stays together.

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