The start of the school year means a shift in the way you family operates on a daily basis. One of the first things that may fall off the wagon once September hits, is your evening meals together as a family. We’re all aware of the benefits of this time together. It strengthens the family unit. It’s correlated with higher GPA’s, lower risks of depression, and may even boost your toddler’s vocabulary more than reading aloud.
That all sounds great, but it’s still difficult to make it happen! With jobs, after school activities, sports, the logistics of the evening hours can be challenging to control. Here are a few ideas to help you make more of your evenings dedicated to this important event.
Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure
The first rule of thumb when starting a new habit is to not bite off more than you can chew. All puns aside, don’t set yourself up for failure by mandating that your entire family must be seated at the table at 6pm each evening. That doesn’t sound fun or reasonable! Instead, start with finding a few nights a week where calendars align. Then, make the most of these nights together. Over time, you can hope to increase the frequency. But by starting small, you’ll be able to succeed in your goal, giving you the boost you need to continue on with the habit.
If dinner time just won’t work for your family, why not change the hour of the day you spend together. Mornings may seem hard, but even spending 15 minutes together at the table while you eat your breakfast can change the course of your day in a positive way.
You could also consider taking the dinner in shifts. You may have a child running out the door while another one is returning home. Think of your kitchen having ‘open hours’. Keep meals simple–a crockpot is great–that will allow for multiple eating times. Strive to eat with somebody at each meal. You may not be able to all gather for the meal; but eating with at least one other person in your family will certainly work.
Is the hardest part of dinner making it? If you’re like me, there are days after work that I don’t feel like cooking, eating, cleaning up. The process can seem so daunting that it scares people away! Don’t let it. Figure out what part of the process is hardest for you. Hate to plan and shop for meals? Consider getting a weekly food box delivered. Can’t seem to muster the energy to cook after a long day? Fire up that crockpot before work. Hate doing dishes? Assign the task to a person who’s not doing the cooking!
With the right mindset and a large dose of creativity, you can find ways to make family meals a tradition in your home. Stay positive. Cook and enjoy the foods you love.
What are your best secrets on dining together as a family? Send them my way!