Has dinner time at your house become a train wreck? Instead of enjoying quality family time, are you rushed to get through it, barely able to hold the interest of your family past the blessing? Does your “quality” time around the table consist of a texter, a complainer, and a picky eater who can’t seem to get along for more than thirty seconds? If so, it’s time to make a change, Mama.
With summer just around the corner, as your schedule eases and your commitments lessen; why not take the opportunity to improve one part of family life? Dinner.
The Family Dinner Project, is an online community and “a start-up grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter.” This online vision encourages families to make a commitment to having more—and more significant—dinners together. And it’s soooo easy! By setting a goal to improve your family dinner time, and committing to work on it over the summer, you could go into fall with a new attitude about the “witching hour” that inevitably starts the moment you touch the oven.
So, how do you start?
Step 1: Set Goals and Commit
Give yourself a month. Ask each family member what they would like to see improve during family dinner time. Set a couple of goals that you would like to work on—like frequency of meals together, quality of food, fun time, better conversation, or shared workload—then focus on it. Once those become habit, you can add others. But, be realistic. You won’t achieve all of these things at once. It’s better to start with one or two, taking small steps towards each, to ensure success and continuation.
Step 2: Get Started
Just do it! Begin with one meal. Have a plan in place for what you will eat, talk about, and who will do what. Being prepared the first few meals may seem overwhelming, but as you fall into a rhythm, it will get easier as everyone realizes what is expected of them, and what is to come over dinner.
Step 3: Follow Up
A few weeks into the summer, take a poll. How is everything going? Is everyone happy with the changes? Are there other things they’d like to see change? What obstacles have gotten in the way of successful dinners?
The Family Dinner Project (www.thefamilydinnerproject.org) has great suggestions to help you maneuver through. Need help with ideas? Check out some of their great ones below. Then, ask your family to chime in and let the creativity flow.
Fun Time Activities at Dinner:
Iron Chef Family Edition:
One family member chooses several ingredients for the meal. Another—or two, or three—uses those ingredients to come up with a meal.
Can You Remember?
Close your eyes. Have family members ask you questions about the room, what others are wearing, what color the walls are, etc. to test your skills.
Write a Story Together
Take turns going around the table and adding parts to a fictional story that you create as a family. Allow each member to add their own unique flair to the plot and story.
- What is one thing that happened today that made you feel good/smart/silly/etc?
- If you could be an animal, what would you be? Whose pet would you want to be?
- If you could invent anything, what would it be?
Gathering around the family table can be a place to create incredible memories. These are a great starting point to get your family moving in the right direction. So, be adventurous. Turn off those rickety tracks and onto a new adventure: family dinners that keep them coming back for more.