Making the Most of Family Dinner

By Cindy Gordon
Making the Most of Family Dinner

In today’s world, family schedules are busier than ever. We are constantly running our family to sporting practices, dance events, musical recitals, tutoring and more. At work meetings run late or you work the late shift. The reasons are plentiful why we are so busy around dinner time. Busy schedules of the entire family can make it difficult to have a family dinner.

Why is it important to sit down as a family?

Family dinners are important because they can provide a sense of togetherness to your family. Family dinners provide benefits on many levels including developmental and nutritional. Eating dinner together helps to nurture your children into well rounded children. By spending time together eating dinner you can positively impact your childrens’ self-esteem and eating habits. This provides a time for you, as a parent, to be a role model to your children.

What are the aspects of the family dinner?

Family dinner time is not limited to the eating portion. The before and after is very important. Spend time as a family preparing dinner. Children of any age can help in the kitchen. You can adapt skills based upon your child’s age. For example, your children can help to set the table and pour drinks. Children love to sprinkle on spices and stir. They can top the salad with vegetables, that you have cut. If your children are older, they can work on cutting up food. While preparing food and eating it are important parts of dinner, so is the clean-up. Involving the entire family in the clean-up process is essential. By doing this, you are providing a team atmosphere for your child and providing them with life-skills that they will use when they are living independently on their own.

Tips to make your family dinner time possible

• Turn off all electronic devices (includes radio and TV) and NO devices at the table.
• Aim to make your family dinners a routine; try to eat dinner together at least 4 times a week.
• Enjoy each other and engage in conversation. Print off conversation starters if needed, do some research ahead of time.
• Busy schedules? Make a double batch of your favorite meal and freeze it. When a busy night hits, thaw the prepared dinner and enjoy.
• Do not rush through your meal. Enjoy the time together and savor each bite.
• Focus on the pleasant and keep the stresses away from the table. Take your family dinner time and create a happy moment.

Let’s expand…

Family dinners are the perfect time to bond over conversation. While conservations might come easier on some nights, you can have a few topics in your back pocket to discuss incase the conversation is sparse. You can talk about family vacation dreams; where would your dream family vacation be? Discuss your children’s names; how were the names picked? Google conversation starters, this can be especially helpful with teenagers. Don’t limit yourself to conversations, you can easily incorporate games into dinner time. I-Spy is a favorite and an easy-to-play game for young families.

While making family dinners a routine, the dinners do not have to be the same each time. Spice up your dinner plan with some creative ideas. Have a picnic, even if the weather is chilly you can have an indoor picnic on a blanket! Have a finger food only dinner, sometimes just changing up the type of dinner will keep the entire family interested. Have a dinner bar or buffet, such as a taco bar, baked potato bar, pizza topping bar, etc. Expand your dinner table, invite another family over for dinner.

Remember family meal time should be fun and enjoyable. Now get to planning how YOU are going to make your next family dinner a success!


Cindy Gordon is a foodie who loves to blog about gluten free vegetarian/vegan recipes on her website Vegetarian Mamma. Cindy's family is dedicated to finding/creating recipes and products that fit their families dietary needs. Cindy resides in Ohio with her husband and two boys (born '07 & '10). She enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, gardening, wine and cooking!