The importance of eating dinner together as a family is widely recognized. Even when prioritizing family dinners, it is still easy to miss building relationships during the dinner hour. When the day is rushed, homework looms, discipline issues must be dealt with, or outside commitments require eating quickly, dinner can become a time families sit together at the table, yet barely interact in a meaningful way.
As a homeschooling family, we have the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, but it can be easy to forget to move from school time to family time at the dinner table. While I love that we can always be learning, I think it’s important to leave lessons and school talk behind at the dinner table to focus on creating and building relationships.
As I’m trying to be more intentional with my family’s dinner hour, I’ve found several easy ways to build family relationships during dinner- that your kids will actually enjoy! Win back even the most hectic and rushed evening by being intentional about building strong family relationships during the dinner hour with these easy tips.
Distraction free dinner
It’s hard to talk when everyone is absorbed in their own thing during dinner. Keep the dinner table free from distractions. Leave all electronics, books, toys, etc out of the kitchen during the dinner hour. I’m raising a family of readers, constantly trying to slip a book into their laps during dinner. Now my kids know that dinner is for talking. They may read during breakfast or lunch, but not dinner.
Get the whole family talking
Just sitting around the dinner table together does little to build family relationships. So often a family has a few members who dominate the conversation, while others are happy with one word answers all meal long.
One great way to spark conversation around the dinner table is sharing our highs and lows of the day. Even though we spend the majority of our days together as a homeschooling family, those highs and lows give lots of insight into each of my children’s personalities!
Another fun way to help get the conversation going with the fun conversation starters on Mardi Gras Napkins. These adorable napkins feature super-cool, kid friendly illustrations and clever conversation starters. The out-of-the-box conversation starters will have your whole family excited about getting their turn to answer.
Lately, during our dinners my family each takes a turn to read his or her napkin and answer the question. Often we go around the table and all answer the same question, which always sparks an interesting conversation about the questions. No more boring family dinners with these fun napkins!
Pencil it in
Good intentions to make family dinner a priority often get waylaid in the busyness of raising a family. Don’t let that happen by planning family dinners ahead.
If your family doesn’t often eat together, start small by putting one or two days a week on the calendar for family dinner. Whether you choose one night a week that is always family dinner, or pencil in the next days for the next week each Sunday night- do what works for your family!
Everyone pitch in
Mom shouldn’t carry the burden of planning, preparing, and cleaning up family dinner alone! Not only will having the help of the entire family at dinner time take stress off mom, but it also allows for even more relationship building time on family dinner nights!
Working together is a great way to extend conversation time!
Think outside the box
Some weeks are just so crazy that sitting down for family dinner is nearly impossible. Think outside the box on the most chaotic weeks. Anytime your family can gather together around a meal the same positives occur as when you eat dinner together!
Gather around the breakfast table to touch base before the day really begins. You don’t have to make an elaborate breakfast, even if you simply eat your cereal at the same time you’ll be together!
Maybe you can plan a backyard picnic lunch on Saturday, or picnic at the ballpark between your children’s games.
Dessert will even work! Who doesn’t love dunking cookies in milk before bed as the family takes turns to share about their day?
By thinking outside of the box, you might squeak in several family ‘dinners’ even on the busiest weeks!
How do you build family relationships during the dinner hour?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Thank you Mardi Gras Napkins for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to get the conversation going in your home!