Tired of the Dinnertime Drudgery?
Have you ever sat at the dinner table surrounded by your
insane beloved children and asked yourself, “remind me why we are submitting ourselves to this torture”. It is no question that gathering around the table once a day and eating a meal together as a family has it’s benefits. The vast internet is rife with articles that get down to the “why’s” of family meal time and it’s importance in your family. Simply google “research benefits of family meal time” and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m not going to bore you by nagging you with an article about how important it is that you have family mealtime with your family, partly because research suggests that the majority of you are already having family mealtime the majority of the week.
Time for a Change
Just because we know family mealtime is a good thing in the lives of our kids doesn’t mean it is always enjoyable. The Husband and I have had several discussions lately evaluating our interactions with our children. We’ve had the overwhelming feeling the majority of our interactions with our children are negative. The worst offending time: dinner time.
We all know that tired and hungry parents mixed with tired, hungry kids is a recipe for disaster. And the disaster meter rises the younger your children are.
To fix this situation, I polled my friends for ideas on what they have done in their families to make family mealtime a fun time rather than a reincarnation of the Spanish Inquisition. Here are some of their awesome suggestions:
Awesome Ideas to Make Family Dinners a Blast!
- During the months of good weather, eat dinner outside: My friend noted that this adds a great element of excitement to dinnertime for her son. Though I haven’t told him yet, I’ve decided I’m going to ask my husband to build me a picnic table for our back patio (which is crying tears of shame because of its nakedness).
- Let everyone take turns saying something that made them happy that day and something that made them sad: It gives us an idea of the day’s highlights and low-lights, and we can often talk about why things happened or express happiness or concern for each other.
- Have a special plate to spotlight one of the kids: The kid who I want to spotlight gets the plate and we all say what we love about them.
- Play the “Question Game”: Ask the kids a trivia type question after they eat a few bites. In our house we like to use these (affiliate link) Brain Quest Question and Answers cards.
- We also like to play this geography game where we take turns saying a country that starts with the letter A and B and so forth or nation capitals or some other variation.
- When food is a different size than usual it was always fun! (tiny burgers, tiny pizzas, “giant chicken nugget” that is actually just a breaded chicken patty).
- Throw out the rules about no eating in the family room: Choose a special night to make an exception to your rules and have a picnic in the family room you all watch a movie together.
- Eat with serving utensils! Let the kids draw numbers to see what serving utensil they will be using to eat with. They think it is so funny to try to east their dinner with ladles, wooden spoons, large forks and spatulas
- Draw lots to see who eats without what: I remember doing this in high school. We each drew a piece of paper. On the piece of paper was written one word like: plate, utensils, or hands. The piece of paper you draw designates the item you have to eat without. This is a really messy one so make sure you line the table with a disposable plastic table cloth. Despite how messy this fun one is, I promise it will be worth it–just make sure to have your camera out!!!
- Let the kids choose the meal and cook (occasionally): Even the young ones can work with mom and dad on this one. Not only do the kids think it is fun to have a night to cook, but they’re learning valuable cooking skills and getting one on one time with mom or dad as well.
Because of my kids busy schedule this year, I’ve been forced to simplify. I’ve turned to freezer meals and the occasional consciously created frozen meals (meals without a bunch of artificial stuff) that I can buy at the store. Thankfully, Tony Roma’s had sent me some their All Natural Tony Roma’s Ready to Eat meat. My kids are a big fan of ribs, so the other day when I was in a rush, I threw some ribs into the oven to heat up really quick.
The meat was ready in 15 minutes, just the amount of time it took me to prep and cook the veggies! I was seriously impressed by how good they were and even more impressed that there were no artificial ingredients.
My carnivore child LOVES ribs! Actually, we all loved the ribs! We ate the Baby Back Ribs and the Boneless Pork Ribs. The Boneless Pork Ribs were to die for! I had to hold back from eating too much! Not a common problem for me. To find these delicious Tony Roma’s heat and serve meat dishes in a store near you, check out this handy store locator.
If you’re contemplating how you can make your family dinners a more peaceful or fun time, just remember, meals don’t need to be elaborate or difficult. The important thing is just being together!