I think we would all agree that our lives are busy. Then you add in to the mix, children, who have soccer practice, music lessons and play dates and next thing you know you’re ready to pull out your hair trying to juggle everyone’s schedule. So what happens when between after school and bedtime is just not enough? Dinner time goes out the window. We end up having to pick something up really quick at the drive thru window and eat in the car on our way to drop off child #2 to music lessons while trying to figure out how we are going to get to the grocery store in between drop offs and pick ups.
But here’s the thing, the busier we become, the more our soul cries out for a place of refuge, rest and connection. Guess where our kids long for that connection? At home with their family. Yes, even your “I’m too cool for you!” teens long to connect with their family.
If home is not a refuge for your kids or spouse they will find a refuge some where else and sometimes the places ready to welcome them with open arms are not where you want them. So let’s make time to connect and make our family meal time a place of refuge for our family.
So first start by setting the stage for dinner. When you first see your children and/or spouse stop what you’re doing and greet your loved ones. We all enjoy an accepting welcome. This doesn’t have to do with our meal time but it sets the tone for your meal time.
Also, I would encourage you to think about some ground rules to share with the family. Then after a few times of having dinner together you can share with them some of your rules for example, listen without interrupting, no criticizing each other, what we say here stays here…
Below I share 8 ways you can connect at meal time. Whether meal time happens at the dinner table or in the car going from one swim meet to the next activity these tips will help you reach out to each other. I understand the quick meal thing we do it more than I want to especially around this time time of the year but I highly encourage you to schedule a couple of meals at home a week.
8 Ways to Connect at Your Family Meals
1. Tune in. In the kitchen after school or at meal time is where our kids needs are met so make sure you’re listening to what they are saying. Tune into their ramblings even if you can’t relate to what they are saying. They’ll know you care about the big stuff when you listen to their ramblings about the little stuff.
2. Turn off the television and all electronics. Yes, this may be hard at first for all involved and your kids may get upset but the message you’re sending is–YOU ARE IMPORTANT. We all long to know that we are valued.
3. Use storytelling. Share random facts about yourself. Talk to your kids about–How you and your spouse first part. How you chose their name. What their names mean. Share 3 things you admire about your mother or father. Your family history is rich so share it with them. Make up your own trivia game–Family Trivia.
4. Play board games after dinner or play other games that don’t require moving everything off the table. We don’t have a lot of time after dinner so we play quick easy games with the kids like Crazy 8’s or Spot it, when they were younger we played Gold Fish.
5. Make dinner together or clean up together. Don’t worry about making a fancy meal. You can buy already made pizza dough, shredded cheese and sauce and put it together as a family. Or you can clean up together after dinner. Did you know kids are more likely to open up when they are involved doing something else? Especially your boys. This is a great time for you to connect with your kids as they sweep or pick up trash using GGlad® OdorShield® Gain™ Original Scent with Febreze® trash bags. I love that these bags neutralize the odor and they have a 5 day odor guarantee plus they are available in a variety of other scents. Click here to save $2!
6. Plan discussions ahead of time. Have a few questions you want to ask that don’t require a yes or no answer. If you’re having trouble coming up with some go online. There are so many free dinner table questions floating on the internet if you need some ideas.
7. Discuss hot topics, movies or books. Give everyone a chance to share their views even if you don’t necessarily agree with what is being said.
8. Share a concern. I enjoy doing this with our family because then turns into a great family project. Share a concern you may have about your community, neighbor or family member in need. Then brainstorm some ideas on how you can help as a family? In the picture above we received an email from the local soup kitchen in our community that they needed volunteers over the holidays. So we discussed and then planned to volunteer during this time.
I hope these ideas have encouraged you to take your family back one meal at a time. When you have your family meals, stop what you’re doing, unplug and gather around the table. All of these things relay important messages to our children:
- You are important.
- You give them a sense of security.
- You give them a platform where they can express their dreams and ideas.
I challenge you to ask your kids what they like about coming home and dinner time. This will help you figure out the areas that need some strengthening.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad. The opinions and text are all mine.