Family mealtime is something I try to focus on at least 4 times a week. It can be really challenging with afterschool activities and a husband who tends to work late, but nevertheless it’s a goal and focus of our family to eat dinner together. Growing up, dinner time was a nonnegotiable in my house. We all had to be home, and it was time to sit and talk. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, but it is something I have tried to carry through now that I have a family of my own.
If you want to have more mealtimes together as a family, but get caught up in the day-to-day chaos, I recommend setting smaller goals to start and build from there; maybe just having breakfast together once a week or one dinner on the weekend. Something that works with your schedule and doesn’t add additional stress.
Now that my kids are a little older, I have them help pick a meal each week and occasionally cook it with me. I want to incorporate them cooking with me more, but that is something I am working towards. The point of having dinner together as a family is to spend some time talking and building relationships. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, it will be the best 15 minutes you can give back to your family a few times a week that will create lasting benefits.
Tips for a successful family mealtime:
- Be flexible!
- Prepare over the weekend. Have the kids or your spouse help with the menu for the week and decide which days are going to work out the best to all eat together. It doesn’t have to be the same day each week, just whatever works with your schedules. If the kids are able to select some of the meals, I have found, it reduces the amount of complaining or desire to eat something else.
- Open the floor for discussion. Put all electronics away and make it a point to just talk. There could be some silence as well but try to reduce any additional distractions and just focus on each other.
- We go around the table and say what our favorite part of the day was as well as our least favorite part of the day. If I want to dig a little deeper, I will ask if someone became upset during the day or frustrated and why. This usually gives a little better response than “recess was my favorite part!” or giving the same answer over and over.
- Easy meals leave more time to be together and less time cooking. The caveat to that is if the family is cooking together (big win!). Here are a few go-to meals for our family:
- Instapot chicken (or anything with an Instant Pot!)
- Pomarola with pasta
- Beef stew (crockpot overnight and ready to go the next day)