I know you’re busy. If your kids are at home, they are busy too. You’re also probably tired of hearing how important family dinners are, because you’re thinking “HOW do we make family dinners happen?”
As a working mom outside of the home, two kids in competitive sports, and a firefighter as a husband, we struggle how to get us all around a table at one time. But a few years ago, I put my foot down and demanded we have at least 4-5 meals together a week. I struggle with it every week. Here are my favorite three ways to make family dinners happen, at your house and at mine.
Schedule it. This may sound silly, but most of the moms I talk to don’t have a family calendar. Each Sunday, I sit down and write out each and every activity for each person in our family. Meetings, school programs, sports and church activities all go on the board.
At the beginning of every month, I do the same thing with the monthly calendar on my phone. This allows me to project for big events like Parent-Teacher conferences and work activities. We then review the weekly schedule as a family and discuss where and when we are having dinner. Sometimes it may be instant noodles in between practices and perhaps it’s grilling out hot dogs. What and where it happens is not nearly as important as the fact that it happens.
Learn To Say No. The best advice I’ve ever received as a woman is that “No” is a full sentence. It often takes me practice to but it into place, but my children still need to learn how to do it. They often say yes to birthday parties and playdates before checking with their dad or I. This not only gives us an opportunity to teach them about commitments, but also about making sure our family is not suffering for the sake of one member.
Once we’ve reviewed all of the activities on our family calendar, if there are activities that can be rescheduled or do not require our attendance, we cross them off the calendar. The most important part of my day, as a mother, is investing into the lives of my kids. If we’ve not spent enough time around the table in a week, we starting saying “no” to things as if it is our job.
Switch it up. “Dinners” do not always happen for us as the last meal of the day. A LOT of times, we have lunch together during the weekends, or my husband and I head to school and check out the kids for a lunch for us. We are also really fond of standing around the bar area of our kitchen in the mornings, being intentional about spending time together.
Skip the meal. Most of the time our social activities include dinner. Say friends want to do a dinner and a movie or want to grab a quick bite and head to the park. If we haven’t spent a lot of time together as a family, we will skip the option to have dinner with friends. I’ll tell them we will just meet them for the activity.
That way, we are still seeing friends or having playdates, but we are maximizing our family time. This also saves us some money, because eating out is expensive; eating out with kids can be ridiculous.
You can find Lindsey Andrews on the internet here.