Getting the Most Out of Family Dinners

So much has been written about the importance of family dinners. There are so many studies about how kids are more likely to stay on the straight and narrow if their family normally comes together for meals. You likely have seen or heard about more than a few of these statistics yourself.

In my family as a child, we always ate dinner together until my sister and I were old enough to take on part-time jobs. It was just what we did as a family. It wasn’t something that we made a big deal out of, but rather it was as normal for us as brushing our teeth at night and putting our shoes on in the morning.

My family now is far busier than my family was when I was growing up. All three kids are involved in sports, and both my husband and I work. Yet we still strive to have dinner together as often as possible, as well as breakfasts and lunches when everyone is home, too. As a parent, I can see that meals are a time of day when everyone really can sit down and take a breather, talk about their lives, and feel as though they are a part of a unit that cares about them. With how busy our lives are, this is critical!

Here are a few things we do to get the most out of our family dinners:

Turn the TV Off. Now in the old days of my childhood, we’d turn the TV off, and nowadays we completely unplug by leaving all digital devices far from the table. Meals are a time to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

Share a Bit: If your family is like my family, you have one or two chatter boxes who are more than happy to spend the entire meal talking without letting the others get a word in. We make a point of turning the chatter boxes off for a few minutes so we can hear how everyone’s day went or is going. Sometimes sharing is done semi-formally, and we all go around the table and share something positive that happened during the day. Other times, it’s haphazardly done, and we roll with the feeling around the table.

Come Together and Leave Together: Some days we eat buffet-style and other days we dish the food up in the kitchen and just bring the plates to the table. Either way, everyone more or less sits down together, and we all mostly wait until everyone is done eating before we get up. If someone finishes quickly, they continue to sit at the table and share in the conversation. The meal time is about eating, but it’s also about sharing. Merely being done eating doesn’t mean the meal is over.

Whether you only have time to eat a meal or two each week with your family or you can manage to eat most meals together, you will find that putting some of these ideas into motion is a great way to really get the most out of this special time you enjoy together.

Here are some other articles written by this author:

Are competitive sports right for your kids?

Is your toddler afraid of the water? Swimming tips that work

The argument for kids playing multiple sports: Considerations beyond your schedule

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