When my children were babies, something inside told me that coming around the table to enjoy one meal every day would be important. Something to treasure, value and protect. My husband and I would sit at our table with our newborn next to us, not realizing that we were starting a family tradition that would mean as much then, as it does today.
Now that my kids are older, dinner time is my favorite time of the day. It’s the one time each day that we can count on being that close to each other. We can look at each other and share the highs and lows of our day. It’s when they open up and share little details, sometimes with their mouths full of food, that I wouldn’t normally hear at any other time.
I recently had an opportunity to chat with other moms about family dinners, and how to make them even more special, and it was awesome. There’s a new book out by Laurie David called The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect With Your Kids, One Meal At A Time, that’s all about protecting this time together and creating rituals to deepen it’s value.
Treasure Bowl – Place a big bowl in the center of your table. As the week goes by and objects are collected by your children, either by chance or on special treasure-seeking expeditions, are all placed in the bowl. At the end of the week, let each person explain what he or she found, and why it is so special.
Show and Tell Game- Ask family members to each bring a special object to the table (could be a statuette, a favorite toy, or a drawing). Let each person talk about what they brought to the table and what it means to them. This can help give our younger kids something to talk about based on their own interests and level of sharing.
Serve Dinner Family Style – I’ll admit, I could do a better job of letting my children develop greater independence and this is one we’ll try at home. Letting them serve their own meals not only gives them a sense of control, but helps with motor skills, hand-eye coordination and offers lessons in serving sizes. It also slows down dinner to a more enjoyable pace.
The book is also full of great family-friendly recipes like Slow Cooker Curry in a Hurry that I’m looking forward to try. You can find Laurie’s Conversation Starters for Family Dinners each Friday afternoon (with downloadables!) at Huffington Post, and visit her website and blog for even more inspiration around family dinners. One of her secrets to a successful family dinner is meal planning (now you see why I love her already!).
What are some of your family dinner rituals? I’ve long admired Jennifer Perillo’s Friday Pizza Night and we’ve done our own Family Pizza & Movie Night. I hope you’ll share some new ideas for us all to learn from. Thanks
Images: Laurie David, The Family Dinner