Coming out of months of lock downs, shut downs, and some almost smack downs; the idea of family dining has become an afterthought. If everyone has gotten used to just filling their plates and wandering to the living room or bedroom, it’s time to have a sit down. Dinnertime is traditionally a time for the family to gather together to share a meal and themselves. Some of the best conversations should and do happen around the dinner table. You should make time for a weekly family meal.

If mealtime has become just one more activity that everyone does separately, it’s time for a change. Our children grow up so fast; they’ll be off on their own before you know it.  Setting aside one meal a week for actual family time will help you really connect to each other. 

Lunch table
 

Make Plans

Preparing one special meal a week is doable; but you will have to make a plan. Coordinate schedules so that everyone is available on that day. Put it on the calendar. A weekend day is usually best for a family meal day; but whatever day works best is the right day. Plan your family meals a month at a time. That’s just four meals. You can get your children to participate in the plans. Maybe let each child decide on the main course on different days. The meal that is served is less important than the time spent together.

Work on a Menu

Your family meal menu can vary. Teenage or adult children may want a more sophisticated meal. This could be a good time to show off your cooking skills! It could be a great time for your kids to try new foods. Maybe they’ll discover a love of crepes or paella. If you decide that each child gets to pick the meal you can still make it special.

Should little Sophie want hot dogs, that’s perfect! Serve hot dogs in a fun way. Maybe turn the table into a hot dog bar. Include all of the fixings and let everyone decide how they want their hot dogs. Tacos are always fun. The same idea applies; set up a taco bar. Have tortillas, several types of meat, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, etc. on the table. Everyone can decide how they want their tacos fixed. No rules

Don’t Skip Dessert

Take the time to serve dessert. In the spirit of a food bar, set up a separate table for sundaes. Have different ice cream flavors and toppings set out with sundae bowls. Don’t forget the whipped cream and sprinkles! If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go for a homemade pie. Check out this pumpkin pie from scratch recipe here that would be perfect for a fall themed family meal. Again, it could be fun to allow your kids to help you make the dessert. It will give them the feeling that you trust them and want to spend the time with them.

Set the Dining Table

Adding extra touches to your dining space will make the meal even more special. Pull out the table cloth and fine china. Yes; fine china for hot dogs. If you’re like me, that china never sees the light of day. Why do you have it if not to use? You family will really understand how special your family meal really is if you do the unexpected. Do this every single time. It’s not just about making the space more beautiful and comfortable; it just will convey your love for your family.

Be sure you make the dining space a “no electronics zone.” That means no cell phones or handheld gaming devices. This is about talking face to face; sharing your stories and lives. 

Don’t Wait

Trust me; it’s worth the effort. I’d give anything if my children and grandchildren lived close enough that I could have a weekly family meal with them. That was always my dream; the Sunday afternoon family meal. It didn’t work out like that and I’d love to have the chance back. Don’t like your opportunity slip by. 

 

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