This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com.
Families aren’t having family dinner as much as they were maybe 20 years ago.
It was an automatic in my house that you were going to sit down to a family meal almost every night — definitely on the weekend, and probably at your grandmother’s house.
But today, life is faster and parents need some innovative ways to bring everyone to the dining room table.
Step 1: Plan ahead.
Get the kids involved in choosing the meal and buying groceries. When children are a part of the decision making process, they are more likely to want to eat the meal and to participate in it.
Step 2: Think about more than just food.
Once the food is on the table, find little things you can add to the experience to keep kids interested. Discuss a recent movie you all saw together or start planning a family vacation. Have the kids lead the family prayer. Some families have a “special plate,” and the person who gets that plate gets to sit at the head of the table. Kids enjoy that type of small reward.
Step 3: Don’t drag it out.
There’s nothing wrong with a quick meal. Dinner time is a great opportunity for the family to catch up with each other, but you don’t need to sit there for three hours. And little people probably can’t take it for that long, anyway.
Step 4: Continue family time after the meal.
Play games together, go for a walk or bike ride, go out for ice cream. These things create a sense of togetherness and family and create lasting memories for your little ones.