As a father of 7, I know all too well the challenges of trying to get everyone to sit down and eat dinner at the same time. There are work obligations, the kids’ activities, different sleep schedules if you have kids of varying ages, etc. Yet, sharing a family meal is worth the effort. It’s an opportunity for the entire family to be together at once, share stories, interact and bond. We’ve worked really hard to make family dinners happen for our family. Here are a few ideas for your family to try:
- One night a week, prepare a family meal together where everyone participates. Everyone has a role in putting the meal together; the younger kids might pour ingredients, stir or set the table while the older kids actually do some of the cooking.
- Focus on family time instead of putting a gourmet meal on the table. By keeping the meals simple (yet healthy) such as taco dinners or preparing a crockpot meal (chili, stew, chicken noodle soup) in the morning, you can put together a quick dinner for everyone to enjoy together. It might be a 10 or 15 minute dinner, but you’ll be eating it together!
- Be flexible about when you eat (depending on the age of the children). If everyone is together at 4:30 but the kids have activities throughout the evening, eat dinner then or if 8:30 is the first time the family is home together, just eat a late dinner. You can have healthy snacks available if kids get hungry before or after their activities. The point is not to get locked into preconceived notions as to when dinner should be eaten and to, instead, focus on when you can all eat dinner together.
- Create a special weekly tradition that the entire family looks forward to and will make time for (especially important when you have teenagers) such as breakfast for dinner on Sunday nights.
- Don’t get hung up on making dinner the only meal you can share as a family. If breakfast or lunch works better some days, why not?
Good luck to you and your family!
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 6, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.