It’s easy to get so caught up in the necessities of life that we forget to really live each day. We may feed hungry people but forget to enjoy the process. We don’t take the time to make mealtime Family Time where we look eye to eye, talk, listen and laugh.
Maybe you wonder how in the world you can do that with the schedules and time constraints of your family. I’d like to offer a few suggestions, if I may!
- Prepare tables that would be fun for the age of your children to enjoy. For instance, why not set up a game board in the center of the table? Whip up some tacos and eat, play and enjoy the most delicious game time ever!
- Involve the family in meal prep. Someone can help make the salad. Someone else can mash the potatoes while someone else gets the beverages ready. Don’t feel like you have to be the only one in the kitchen. Getting the family in there will not only lighten your load, but will help the children learn to cook, and will also create fun family times!
- Let the children help with setting the table and creating something for the centerpiece. Again, this is a great teaching time and also time together.
- Play quiet music in the background to keep the atmosphere more calm. It really does help!
- Teaching a child table manners helps equip them for life outside of your home. When you teach them how to use silverware – no matter how many pieces are spread in front of them – they will feel confident, rather than intimidated in more formal settings.
- Realize that children are children. They will spill their milk. They will make a mess. Be generous with your forgiveness for childishness, but do correct any deliberate disobedience in another room. Tell them your expectations and then return to the table after good instructions of what you’re asking them to do. Often we think they should know how to act without giving clear guidelines. We are their teachers. Teach and then enforce.
- Don’t use meal time to scold a child for things that happen at other times of the day. Let this be sweet family time with heavy doses of laughter, conversation and hearts spilling out.
- Find a book you could read together at meal time – one chapter each night. Read a variety of subjects. When my girls were young we read books by Beverly Cleary – Henry and Ribsy, or Mr. Poppers Penguins for fun and laughter. We read missionary biographies and stories of great Christians like Corrie Ten Boom. We laughed and cried at the table with the simple reading of good books!
- When the meal is over, let everyone help with clean up. Give specific tasks, age related. Rotate tasks weekly.
Recently while my husband and I were cleaning up the kitchen after supper, we played a game show quiz with Alexa! That was so much fun! Adding a little bit of fun and laughter makes the work seem less like work! Mary Poppins had it right! Ha!
If you work at making dinnertime Family time, you’ll be creating memories in the hearts of your family that won’t be fogged over by hurry or remote meals at a drive-through window.
Slow down and be intentional instead.
What are your favorite memories of dinnertime with your family?