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I am honored to have Sarah Ann from Faith Along the Way write a guest post for me! She has a passion for keep families strong, and shares tips for successfully bringing back family dinner time!
You imagined how your family would interact from the time you were small and tenderly nursing dolls back to health. Laughter would be a cornerstone in your home and family dinners would be a place to share one’s heart. Together, you’d intimately gather for the evening meal and retell stories from the day.
But between soccer practice and dance rehearsal, family dinners can be rushed and in short supply. How does a family that longs to connect take back meal times? These simple steps will help reclaim the family dinner once again.
Taking back the family dinner
As silly as it sounds, modern family dinners may not happen without juggling your schedules first. At the beginning of the week, sit down as a family and discuss the week ahead. If schedules are busy and hectic, aim for dinner together twice that week.
If a parent is out of town, Face Time or Skype during dinner to make the missing member feel present.
Have everyone sit down at the same time
As the busy chef of the family, I would often be the last to the table. It was not uncommon for my kids to be finished eating and demanding seconds just as I finally made my way to the table. How frustrating!
Now, I call everyone to the table once the plates are made and we all sit down at the same time. It’s refreshing to all begin eating together!
Implement a “no device policy”
Don’t let technology rob you of precious time with your family. Ban devices from the table to engage in real life conversation and interaction.
Consider having a decorative basket where all devices are placed before coming to the table and stay during meal time.
Teach children not to interrupt
With two small children at home, dinner can be noisy and a competition for attention. To curb the chaos, we implemented a stoplight system into our family dinner and the interruptions have been much less!
We printed a picture of a green stop light and it sits by the plate of the person whose turn it is to speak. This visual cue reminds the children that unless they have the “green light” to speak, their job is to listen to the other person.
Cover the “highs and lows”
Set the expectation that everyone will contribute to your dinner conversation. Give everyone the chance to share the highs and lows of their day or week. Knowing in advance that they will be expected to speak will help older kids come prepared to share with the family.
Use conversation cards
Other than the routine, “how was your day”, conversation cards are a simple way to spice up family dinners. Kids will love taking turns choosing a conversation card out of the jar, and it’s a simply way to get to know family members better.
Grab a set of free family conversation cards here and watch your relationship bloom.
Share prayer requests and a short devotional
Meal time is the perfect opportunity to build a firm foundation of faith into your children. Create a new devotional habit by reading aloud from a chapter of the Bible or a devotional once the meal is over. We love the practical and no prep printables in the Family Bible Study Toolkit!
Also, use dinner time to share prayer requests and track them, too. Keep a visual reminder, such as the DIY Prayer Tree in the Family Bible Study Toolkit, near the table so you can add new requests to the tree and celebrate when a praise occurs.
While these simple habits will foster community in your family and spark a love of Jesus in their lives, don’t focus on perfection. Aim to have a quality family dinner several nights a week, and give yourself grace if that doesn’t happen. You can do it!
How do you keep your family connected during dinner?
What boundaries have you put in place to protect time with your family?
Sarah Ann Goode is a perfectly imperfect wife and mother, but is thankful for the saving grace of the Lord. When she’s not busy folding yet another load of laundry or comforting a crying child, she enjoys studying God’s Word, writing and spending time with authentic friends. She shares her heart for “Helping Moms Create a Christ-Centered Family” at her site, Faith Along the Way. Join her for biblical encouragement and honest transparency on this crazy journey called life.
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Check out Kidstir, for a fun way to teach your children to cook!