Busy schedules, technology dependence, family dynamics and differing eating preferences all put family meals at jeopardy. If you feel like it is a struggle to get your spouse and kids to the table for evening meals, you are not alone. With kids sliding on and off of chairs and turning noses up at veggies as well as humdrum dinners that feel monotonous and frustrating, it can be hard to feel like family dinners should continue to be a priority. Don’t give up. There are ways to make meals enjoyable again. Read on for some practical ideas.
Make Dinner Special
It is amazing what big returns come with putting small special touches on family meals. Play some music or dim the lights and watch the transformation in family members. Place beautiful flowers on the table or light candles. Keep kids involved and engaged by having them create name cards or place mats. Encourage your tweens or teens to learn how to fold napkins in interesting ways. In short, find as many ways as possible to make meal time feel like a special worthwhile event.
Move beyond Your Own Dinner Table
The main point of getting to the dinner table is enjoying meals and conversation with the family. While eating around your own dinner table is the norm, it is not necessary for every meal. Consider periodically eating on the back porch and keeping meals simple. Speak to family friends who also want to make family meals more enjoyable. Create a dinner club where once or twice a month, families in the group take turns hosting a meal at their home. Another option is to take turns choosing local parks with grills and meet there for picnics. This has the added benefit of fresh air and a change of scenery.
If dessert is a rarity in the home, consider making a homemade dessert for everyone to look forward to once a week. Professionals, like Tori Avey, know that you can either make cookies ahead of time, or you can invite family members to help make them when dinner is finished. Homemade desserts such as sugar cookies involve just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand but taste simply dreamy.
Create a Theme Night
Decide what type of theme night works for your family and either stick with it and make it a tradition or continue trying out new themes. It could be a salad bar night, potato bar night, or taco bar night. Your family could incorporate what the kids are learning about in school by making a literary cooking connection to a book or to a period of history. Other options include a breakfast for dinner theme or an appetizer meal theme. Have fun with meal times and invite ideas from family members of all ages.
Enjoy lingering over ideas for your family meal time, and start putting them into action. Meal time is worth fighting for and the rewards are great. Everyone needs to eat anyway, so you might as well do so together. There are plenty of ways to bring the family closer together and meal time allows a great opportunity to do so.