Do you dream of having the family come together at the table every day? Are you at a loss about how to make it happen? If so, then you’re not alone.
Here are my two foundational steps for making meals happen:
1. Think Beyond Dinner. Don’t get fixated on dinner being the meal that your family eats together. In many families, it’s breakfast where people come together to eat and connect. It’s a fantastic way to start the day. Another great strategy is a bedtime snack/second dinner concept. This works well in families where one parent works later or gets home from their commute too late to eat dinner with (especially younger) kids. In this scenario, the parent who is home earlier makes dinner and eats it with the kids. When the later-arriving parent gets home, the kids join him/her at the table. The later-arriving parent eats warmed-up dinner and the kids eat their bedtime snack. This way everyone is eating together at the table and connecting.
2. Plan Your Schedule with Eating Together in Mind. As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. There’s another saying that’s true too: “you can’t have it all”. This next piece of advice may sound harsh, however I’m sharing it in the attempt to be of service – to give some tough love. Many parents have told me that they can’t eat dinner together because the kids’ activities extend over dinnertime. Having this schedule means that you are choosing ballet and soccer as priorities over eating dinner together. Determining your family’s priorities is your choice. If you choose ballet and soccer that’s OK, own your choices! Determine your values, set priorities and then make your schedule to align with it. The problem comes if your schedule isn’t a match with your priorities. If it’s out of alignment, then make changes. If it is in alignment, then let go of the guilt of not being able to have it all.
Kristen Yarker is known as The Dietitian Who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food Confident Kids. From introducing solids through the picky eating years, she helps Moms and Dads be confident that they’re giving their kids good nutrition today… and instilling a life-long LOVE of healthy eating. Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!) by signing up for her 101 Healthy Snack Ideas at: vitaminkconsulting.com