Hi Y’all! Talking about something I’m clearly super passionate about. Family Dinner!
What are your thoughts?
Does the idea of sitting down to a family dinner regularly seem unattainable? Are you worried it’s a waste of time, food and effort? Are your children incapable of eating anything nutritious? Are you just too exhausted at the end of the day to be responsible for making it happen?
Is a meal time routine too far out of your comfort zone?
I GET IT! AND I can empathize with every one of those statements!! They have occupied my thought pattern in the past! In fact, I still struggle to keep my kids happy some days!
However, if you are willing to give yourself some grace and take baby steps toward a family meal routine. I promise you will get there, and it will be worth the struggle!
Everything seems hard before it is easy, right?
Here are a Few Tactics That Will Help You Champion Family Dinner
1. START SMALL:
If the idea of FIVE family dinners per week sounds impossible, start with ONE! One is an improvement! One is winning! Pick the best day of the week for your family. A day that is the least hectic and send a calendar invite to your family for “Mandatory Family Dinner Date”. Set that date in stone for the next 30 days while you it a whirl!
2. ENLIST YOUR TRIBE:
I started to make my kids a part of the “dinner process” as much as possible! I take the kids with me to the grocery store and farmers’ market when possible. I use these field trips as teachable moments about where food comes from and what is in season. From there we chat about seasonal dinner options for the week and make a plan. It’s all about making them a part of the process as much as possible.
3. ASSIGN JOBS TO YOUR FAMILY:
Our daughter Zia loves to “help” in the kitchen. She’s only five so I’m limited here but thankfully she loves running to my rescue as the “chopper” with these Curious Chef knives! These knives are totally kid safe and really get the job done! If you have older children, ask them to brown the beef for taco night or chop veggies for stir fry! Make a deal with your partner that if you shop and prep then they do the dishes! Find roles that work for your family. Teamwork makes the dream work!
4. LIMIT AFTERNOON SNACKS:
When our dinner consumption starts dwindling, its usually due to over snacking in the afternoon. To mitigate pantry snacking I set out easy/fresh options like apples + nut butter or carrots & hummus. This way the kids still get to nosh but are actually hungry for dinner.
5. HUNGER FLUCTUATES:
Sometimes the kids eat a really large lunch, then partake in an afternoon snack and aren’t as hungry for dinner.. and that’s totally fine! A good breakfast, a good lunch and a few bites of dinner is a winner in my book. Kids have smaller tummies than you think. A portion size is only as large as his/her palm.
6. DON’T CLEAR THE TABLE SO FAST:
Zander is SUPER active so getting him to sit still and finish his dinner is a challenge some evenings. If he’s antsy during our meal because he’d rather be playing outside with friends sometimes I’ll leave his unfinished plate out, well after I’ve cleaned up dinner.
He usually returns to devour it after another round on the basketball court.
7. EXPOSURE: Sticky Fingers Cooking School has had a positive influence on my kids perspective around trying new food! I love that each recipe they prepare in class is designed around healthy, kid friendly flavors. The kids love the hands-on, independent approach to cooking! Each recipe is super creative and allows the kids to experience a fun, artful outlet through food! Zia used to torment me for using white onions at home, but after using them herself in a recipe at Sticky Fingers, she miraculously loves them!
I also love that the chefs at Sticky Fingers act as another advocate for healthy eating! They do a great job of incorporating fruits and veggies into recipes, meals and snacks just like we aim to do at home!
Let’s Get Real! Work schedules, social events and kids activity schedules prohibit a family dinner every night some weeks. That’s OK and no excuse to throw in the towel! We don’t get to have a family dinner every night either. We do it when we can, and that is what counts!
By making it a priority to provide a dinner ritual, where everyone enjoys one meal, we will imprint a lasting tradition on the perspectives of our children around meal time for years to come!!
I’d love to know more about your struggles and your successes! Share them Here!
If you need a more personalized approach send me a note! XO