Imagine this scene for a moment: You’ve found the perfect dinette set. Your dining room table is set as if House Beautiful is coming by to photograph your home today. And you’ve cooked a meal that would make Martha Stewart jealous.
This is picture-perfect, right? It is the dining table that every family should be rushing to dine at. But your family is nowhere to be seen. What gives?
Getting your family to the dining room table is a challenge that plagues both spouses and parents. Don’t resign yourself to losing this battle and give up. This daily time is important. Studies show that families who eat together communicate better and eat healthier.
Tips for Making Mealtime Family Time
1. Be both realistic and flexible. You won’t be able to get everyone to sit down at your dining room table every night. So declare three nights per week Family Dinner Night and put them on your family calendar. If your child’s soccer game is unexpectedly rescheduled to one of your three declared nights, be flexible and switch your dinner to another night. Your schedule can’t be set in stone.
2. Make a menu. Knowing what you’re going to eat for each night of the week helps with grocery shopping and preparation. For the occasions when you don’t have a set meal plan, keep a binder of quick and easy meals that you can use as go-to’s.
3. Have fun. Excitement and laughter is contagious, so give your kids a reason to smile at the dinner table with themed meal nights. Who could be grouchy while wearing a sombrero and eating tacos at your Mexican Fiesta night?
4. Turn off distractions. Don’t leave your TV on in the background during dinner or allow cell phones at the table. Seriously. Dinnertime is just for eating and communicating with each other.
5. Keep conversation lively. Gathering at your dining table is your best chance of the day to learn a little more about your children or spouse. Find out the best part of everyone’s day. Ask your family if they have meal requests for upcoming dinners. Plan upcoming activities or vacations. And if you’re really starved for topics, buy a deck of conversation cards—you’ll never know what question is coming up next, but it’s sure to give everyone food for thought.
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