Much has been said about the magical dinner hour. It brings families together, ensures your children don’t grow up to become hardened criminals, and basically solves all the worlds’ problems. Right? Except that dinner with kids (at least my kids) is not an hour-long kumbaya session where we hold hands and trade blessings. Instead, it tends to be chaotic, loud, and messy. Oh, and it includes my husband saying, “This isn’t a bus stop. Sit down.” about 42 times.
Since we tend to eat dinner every single night (whyyy), I wanted to find some solutions for the beast that had become dinnertime. Through trial and error, I have found a few ways to make dinner more pleasant and meaningful for our family.
Sure, the first couple of times this felt goofy. But, there’s something about lowering the lights that magically lowers the noise level and my blood pressure. If you think candlelight is a bit much for your crew, try using a lamp instead. It’s amazing how this simple act sets the stage for calm!
I typically look up “Best of Mozart” or “Best of Chopin” on YouTube, and the music plays us through dinnertime. It makes us feel a little fancy, which is a good reminder to use our manners.
This probably goes without saying, but I know when my kids are in crazytown, I am tempted to retreat to my phone. (I could write a whole post on this.) Resist the temptation, especially at dinner. Leave your phone in another room and give your family your complete attention.
I have found that I’m really the only who cares about elaborate dinners with fancy ingredients. And, honestly, variety only seems to be something I worry about, as well. I was stressing myself out with 12 step instructions that no one really appreciated but me. My children prefer simple, easy meals.
Sometimes, we like to have everyone give their high and low of the day. Other times, everyone asks a “would you rather?” question. Google is your friend here. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; just have something ready before dinner begins. You could also print out questions and put them in a jar, ready to pull out.
I usually load up the plates and bring them in, just like a waitress at my favorite restaurant. But, this results in me getting up over and over again to retrieve items we’ve forgotten (or seconds for hungry children). If we set the table beforehand, then place all of the food on the table, we are more likely to be able to sit for the whole meal.
I can’t guarantee that these ideas will turn dinner at your house into a night at Buckingham Palace. But, I hope they will bring a little more peace and enjoyment to the dinner hour. Also, I’d love to hear your tips for making meals happy!