We live in a busy world. Most of us have our plates filled to the brim. During 2020, many families have rediscovered family dinners together. As we move past 2020, let this be one blessing we choose to keep in our lives. Slow down. Don't rush your family meal. Avoid overloading the family schedule. Make dinner time, a time to look back on and cherish.
Mealtime is much more than a time to eat. It is an opportunity to build communication, relationships, and to educate. Studies have shown the teens who eat five to seven meals with their family each week are twice as likely to get A's and B's in school. Mealtime should be a pleasant time. When people are upset it can impact digestion. It is not a time for power struggles. Give the family a variety of choices and let them select their meal and proportions. Turn electronic devices off and choose to use the time together in a productive and meaningful way.
Seven Ways to Leverage Mealtime for Your Children's Benefit & Learning
1. Hygge Dinner by Inviting Dinner Guests
Invite interesting people, from church, neighborhood or your husband's work, to join your family for a meal. During times of lockdown, a family member could deeply study a historical person, and then come to dinner as that person. Family members could ask questions and try to discover who this person is impersonating! Getting to know others is often a broadening experience. Leave stress behind and enjoy the time together.
2. International Dinner
My sister-in-law used the fifth Monday to focus on a different country. She would go to the library and get books on that particular country. Then she would decorate for the dinner, select music, teach about that country, and prepare authentic food for that evening.
3. Share a Book
A friend of mine would clear the dinner table and out would come their books. Each would pull out what ever book they are reading. All of the family would read silently, the book of their choice, interrupting from time to time to share what they are reading.
4. What Good Question did You Ask Today?
My husband would ask the family: "What good questions did you ask today?" He would share what his question was and what he found out. I shared too. This set the example. No one was forced to participate.
5. Joseph and Rose Kennedy Method
As her children grew, Rose Kennedy placed a bulletin board in the hall with articles for the children to read and then discuss at the table. Even when the family and cousins gathered at Hyannis Port, at the Kennedy Family compound, the cousins participated too. The newspaper was posted and the cousins would look for articles to discuss with John Kennedy's father, Joseph Kennedy.
Phot credits: Photograph by Richard Sears in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Sll9S4XSqUObvY9XJNN1wQ.aspx ,
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12806756
6. Listen to an Audio Book
Listen to a classic each night at dinner. Spend part of the dinner connecting. You could also choose one of the other ways to leverage mealtime. Then, for the last half of dinner, enjoy listening to a classic. I serve the salad course first, because once the hot food is on the table everyone wants to eat the hot food and not the salad. Perhaps, you can spend the salad course is a perfect time for connecting. Then once everyone has been served the hot dishes, settle in to listen to the classic.
What? You did not get to read the Power of an Hour Sunday Classical Spotlight this week? Listen to it on the audio link provided in Power of an Hour. The Power of an Hour Booklists also have audio books.
Discuss a book you just finished with the family, or a field trip you took with your family. What was your favorite part? What did you learn? Parents participate and share too1.
Families dinners can be both enjoyable and memorable. Keep this time sacred. Resist the urge to over schedule and bump dinner-time for overscheduled activities. Relish this time together. It will be gone soon enough.
Leverage your mealtime for building relationships of love and broaden your family's learning!
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