The most important thing in my life is my family.  So, family dinner is a priority in our daily routine.
As I sat on my couch I watched my son build a train track that ended at my feet.  After a minute, a train started heading my way with a note poking out of the freight car.  I stopped it when it got to me and pulled out the note.  I was really surprised by what it said.

 

“Can we sit together for family dinner?”

 

My first thought?  We always sit together!  Then I had to think for a minute about how crazy things have been for the last while.  As I considered it, I couldn’t remember the last time we actually did sit down for dinner together.  I was shocked!  Family dinner has always been a big priority for me.  Usually the meal is simple but we’re all together, with no electronics allowed.  We discuss the day, things we’re learning about- or anything else.  It’s fun and has a big impact on my kids.  Somehow in the craziness of life, I got away from our routine.

 

Looking back, it started small.  We were always sharing dinnertime until there were just some things that I HAD to get done.   I’d sit the kids down then hurry and finish things up.  I’d join late but still made most of the meal.  Then it slowly went downhill.  I’d take so long getting things done that the kids would be finished.  I’d sit and eat while they were moving on to the next activity.  Soon they’d be hungry and I’d just get them food here and there until our regular, family mealtime was gone.  It’s always my plan (and a forgotten priority) to have “regular” dinner, it just hadn’t happened for awhile.  {fail!}

 

This was a big reminder for me.  Here’s something that means a lot to me- a tradition I loved in my own childhood- and it was so easy to fall out of the routine.  (especially considering it’s food and we have to eat every day anyway!)  It really shook me to realize how easily I just forgot.  Life gets crazy busy and there are so many aspects of running a household and family that it’s easy to get caught up in one aspect in lieu of another.     I decided I needed to reprioritize my days.  Yes, my kids were still getting fed.  Yes, there are things that absolutely must get done.   Yes, at the end of the day, my family is my top priority.  It was time to realign my scheduling priorities and make this happen!

 

There are SO many reasons to have family dinner.  On the practical side, it’s much healthier to eat at a slower pace instead of inhaling food on the way out the door.  Kids also seem much more likely to try something new when others are eating it too.  (at least sometimes…)  It’s a great time for kids to practice manners that they’ll use their whole lives.
A study by CASA Columbia found that kids who have regular family dinner at home have higher grades and are far less likely to end up involved in substance abuse.  It’s also generally less expensive to cook meals at home instead of eating on the go.  The best reason?  It’s fun!  Your KIDS LOVE spending time with you and YOU LOVE hearing more about their day and having time to just be together.  It’s great for everyone!

Several weeks later…

I’ve made a concerted effort to bring family dinner back into our routine.  It’s had a noticeable impact on my kids.  They’ve seemed more confident and willing to talk to me about the various parts of their day.  They seem to feel more listened to and important.

 

Also, I feel more involved with my kids.  Despite the time we spend together doing other activities, family dinner really pulls us together.  We may not make it every day with the busy schedules in our home, but we’re keeping it a priority- and that makes all the difference in the world.

 

What ideas have worked in your home?  Please share!
Check these out while you’re here!
 Alone on the playground: how to help kids make friends  Creating a geoboard is a fun STEAM activity you can do with your kids. They’ll quickly be designing geometric shapes and patterns while having a blast!  When the day comes that your child stops believing in Santa, keep the holiday magic alive with these ideas and traditions!

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