Family Mealtimes: 5 Keys Make Them Work

family mealtimes can be as simple as tacosAre family mealtimes a challenge in your family? They are so important for your child’s success and well-being that they are worth the extra effort.

The Challenge of Scheduling Family Mealtimes

“But I can’t.” Seventeen-year-old Alyssa stood in the middle of the kitchen with her arms folded across her chest. “I told Samantha I’d go to her house to work on our biology project.

DeAndra took a deep breath. “Sunday and Wednesday nights. That’s the time we set aside for family. I’ve made enough for her to join us, and then you can work on the project after dinner.”

“Mom, that’s crazy. All our stuff is over there.”

DeAndra turned around to make eye-contact with her daughter. “Alyssa, this is not negotiable.”

“When I have kids, I’m not having non-negotiable rules.”

As DeAndra returned to her meal prep, Alyssa stormed out of the room with a fury.

Are Family Mealtimes Even Possible?

Scheduling meals with the whole family is a Herculean task in today’s frantic world. When my children were home, we had several evening meals a week together. But times have changed. And as children become teens, it is more difficult. However, it is possible with a little planning.

Five Guidelines to Help Get Family Meals Going

  • Start small. If you can get your whole family together one night a week, that’s a beginning. Put it on the calendar. Don’t feel guilty about beginning small. And it’s important not to allow the kids to opt out except for emergencies.
  • Make it fun. Relax, laugh and have a good time. This should be a time of enjoying each other. If you have enough fun, your children might be open to adding one more night. Don’t lecture. This is not the time to discipline. Save that for one-on-one conferences.
  • Include friends occasionally. It’s important that your children’s friends feel welcome in your home. Including friends is your opportunity to get inside the world of your kids.
  • Shake it up. Maybe one of those family meals can be a weekend breakfast—bed hair and all.
  • Don’t stress the chef. Pot roast is great, but leftover chicken in tacos makes kids happy. The choice of food is less important than the fellowship.

Begin Small: It Will Be a Good Investment

Even if you begin with only one night, remember that family meals play a big role in your children’s success. Abundant research makes it clear that’s an investment worth making.
In my next blog, I will share some conversation starters and activities to use during family meals.

And If Your Children Are Still Young…

Whatever you begin when your children are young will be easier when they are preteens and teens. So begin now while they still think you are cool.


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