I’m proud to welcome Meredith Mills to Intentional Parenting today! She has some great ideas to help us maintain and/or improve our family mealtime. You can read more about Meredith and get in touch with her at the bottom of this post.
“I’m glad we eat together as a family,” said my pre-teen daughter as she served up a second helping. Her comment warmed my heart. I, too, love our shared moments around the table.
Sometimes they’re rushed as we squeeze in a meal before Wednesday night AWANA or some other obligation. But most often, our dinners are times of sweet fellowship as we experience life together.
Mealtimes provide a regular opportunity for us to touch base and talk about what’s going on in our everyday lives. Relationships blossom as we listen to each other’s hearts and respond with acceptance and love.
As parents, we equip ourselves to provide protection for our kids when we discuss interactions with friends, observe attitudes, and listen to what’s important to them.
Here are some practical tips for creating memorable mealtimes:
We are less distracted and more people-focused when our devices are turned off or stowed away from the table. Our family has a designated “phone basket” for use during meals.
- Keep it relaxed
Cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance around the dinner table. This is a fabulous time to discuss issues important to our family and model respect as each person explains his or her opinion. When God’s Word and His grace are central, these discussions can build up the faith of those gathered there.
- Facilitate conversation
The internet abounds with “conversation starters” – questions we can ask to get the proverbial ball rolling. (We recently bought a pack of napkins which had discussion questions printed on each napkin!) The best questions require more than yes or no answers. They probe deeply into hearts, souls and imaginations; they strengthen the friendships we share.
- Make room for fun
Our kids love to tell their newest jokes and riddles during dinner. Sometimes we also craft impromptu stories around the table. One person starts out the story and sets the scene, then “passes the baton” to the next person, who adds his or her own ideas to the plot. It’s our family’s version of a choose-your-own adventure story.
- Model healthy habits
From portion control and eating our veggies, to providing an example of good listening skills, mealtimes enable us to model habits our kids need to lead healthy lives.
- Find your own rhythm
For many families, busy evening schedules prevent daily dinners at home. However, this doesn’t make meals together impossible. Through prayer and some creativity, each of us can find a routine that works for our family. Here are some ideas to think through:
- Is it possible to shift dinner to later in the evening, allowing everyone time to get home?
- Could you pick one night of the week as “family dinner night” and protect it like any other appointment on your calendar?
- What about Saturday morning breakfast or Sunday lunch together?
Prioritizing mealtime togetherness is a priceless gift we can give to our families. It takes intentionality, wisdom, and creativity, as well as some boundary-setting with our schedules, but the benefits certainly outweigh the effort.
How do you make room for family meals? What’s your favorite activity around the table? Please share some “best practices” in the comments below. We’d all love to hear from you.
Meredith Mills is a wife and mother to three inquisitive, adventurous, fun-loving kids. She loves finding Jesus in the everyday and is passionate about helping others experience Him, too. She blogs at www.DazzledByTheSon.wordpress.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter.