8 Ideas for Making Family Dinners Happen
by Christia Colquitt
The value of family dinners is not a secret.
We have seen the statistics. We know that it is important to sit down and eat dinner together on a regular basis.
But still, today an average dinnertime is less than 12 minutes.
Sixty years ago, it was 90 minutes!
It is said that kids and teens who share family dinners at least 3 times a week:
- Are less likely to be overweight
- Are more likely to eat healthy foods
- Perform better academically
- Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sexual activity)
- Have better relationships with their parents
- Fewer emotional and behavioral problems
For a minute, just sit and think of the value of sitting down to dinner together at least 3 times a week.
Think of the cumulative value of those dinners over the years of having your kids under your roof.
These are precious, valuable moments that we cannot get back.
So let’s think for a moment how we can redeem dinner time?
What can we do in our busy lives that will make a big difference in our children’s lives?
#1: (and the one that might make you cringe!) MEAL PLAN
Before you roll your eyes or keep on scrolling, stay with me for a minute.
If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
This also applies to meal time.
If we do not have the plan, dinner time will come and go, and we will not know what to make!
Today there are TONS of options for meal planning, but it is important to come up with the best method for you. This is certainly not a one size fits all solution.
If your family struggles with allergies (in our home, we have dairy and gluten allergies), Mystie has provided Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free options in her Simplified Pantry dinner plan.
Seriously, if you are not familiar with Simplified Pantry, it will change your life!
For a long time, I struggled with finding allergy-friendly meal plans, but now there is so much information and help!
If you are looking for more meal planning ideas, check out 8 Simplified Meal Planning Programs.
#2: Buy Your Groceries Online
This is a game changer.
As a mom of 5, grocery shopping can be stressful.
By the time I get the kids dressed, strapped in the car seats, out of the car, into the carts, do all the shopping, loaded into the car, kids back in car seats, unload the kids, unload the groceries, and put them away, I am ready to throw in the towel.
Now I order my groceries in my pajamas from my laptop, and several hours later, they are on my countertop.
It really is that simple. I have found I spend less money, save time, and stick to my list when I shop for groceries online.
In my city, our local grocery store offers free grocery delivery at HyVee.com.
I have also heard great things about Shipt.
Take a minute and see if grocery delivery is available in your area.
#3: Have Theme Nights
Taco Tuesday, anyone??
This is a weekly tradition in our home, and one that my kids remind me to keep!
This can really simplify your meal planning by having the backbone of your plan already done.
Enter your email address here to get a free menu planning form that includes a spot to name a theme for each weekday!Kids Cook Dinner Night!
#4: Engage in ConversationFor several years when I had lots of little ones, I felt like dinner time was such a blur.Now that my kids are growing up, I so look forward to our dinner time conversations.In order to facilitate the conversation and get things moving in the right direction, grab some printable conversation starters.I love these Conversation Starters from Finding Time to Fly.
#5: Use the Talking SpoonRemember how I said dinner time was a blur when my kids were little.Well, it was also LOUD and it still is!While I enjoy the spunk my kids bring to the dinner table, I also would like to hear the conversation and not get indigestion every meal!We started using the Talking Spoon. It is a wooden spoon that an adult at the table holds.Only the person with the talking spoon can talk.Hubby and I take turns handing off the talking spoon to the kids.We gently remind everyone to pay attention to whoever has the talking spoon.While this does not always work perfectly, it reminds the kids to wait for their turn, listen patiently, and enjoy dinnertime conversation.
#6: Use Dinner Time to ReviewThe kids love to show off to their dad what they learned in homeschool that day.Sometimes we review our bible verse, review our geography and history facts, or talk about the character trait of the week.I also love the idea of the “The Kennedy Method”.Rose Kennedy, the mother of President Kennedy, would place articles on a bulletin board from the newspaper for her children to read and discuss.The children would find articles from the board to discuss at dinner time, especially with their father Joseph Kennedy.As my children grow, I hope to implement “The Kennedy Method” to expose my children to world events.
#7: What Good Question Did You Ask Today?See if any of your kids asked a good question today and find out the answer.This is a great idea to keep kids curious about the world around them.Make sure you and your spouse are asking your own good questions so you can participate.
#8: Listen to an Audio Book.On those crazy days, when I need just a tiny sliver of peace and quiet, a good audio book can make all the difference.If you need some good suggestions, Mystie has some great lists and tips for getting the most from an Audible membership.
And that’s it!My prayer is that you will take one or two of these ideas and make them work for your family.