Feeding our families is a challenge, but there are five things that can dramatically improve the way everyone experiences family dinners—even beyond the food!
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Family Dinners: They’re All About the Teamwork
We’ve all heard about the myriad benefits of family dinners—increased vocabularies in the kids, lower rates of drug use, and actual time to connect amidst busy schedules—but one thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is the how of getting dinner onto the table. We wanted to tackle this topic on the Comfort Food Podcast with our co-host Virginia and her husband Dan. They share 5 tips that they use in their house to have happier family dinners because when you live in a household with two adults, if you don’t talk about how to share the load of family dinners, things are more than likely to go off the rails sooner than later.
(Virginia wrote all about this in a recent story for Parents magazine.)
Why Family Dinners Matter
Family dinners are one of the few times in our day that we’re all together—or at least we are on some days of the week. It’s a time to reconnect after being apart or to just pause and be together. A lot of family memories happen during dinner, but they can also be a giant source of stress if we’re not working together to make them happen.
How to Make Dinner Happier (with Apps!)
Share the load! The best part about working with your partner, instead of just doing it all yourself (or, ahem, assuming you need to do it all yourself) is that it can drastically change your view on the meal. We love the Cozi app and Wanderlist for sharing the load of to-do lists and groceries—and a good old shared Google Calendar and/or a calendar in the kitchen to help keep track of events, activities, and important dates.
Family Dinner Tip #1: Agree on the Standards
If you and your partner have different expectations for family meals, you will likely have frustrations about the meals—no one is a mind reader! Have a conversation about what you each expect in terms of the actual food you’ll be eating, the environment (phone, no phones, tv on or off), and whether everyone needs to eat together or not.
Family Dinner Tip #2 Make a list of ALL the Jobs Related to Meal Time
There’s so much more to meals than just the cooking. There’s the shopping, the deciding what to have, and then the taking care of the kids while the cooking is actually happening. Go through all of these and decide who’s responsible for what so there’s no confusion in the moment!
Family Dinner Tip #3: Work on Clear Communication
No matter how much you plan, things will still come up to throw everything off course. So be clear with communication both ahead of time and in the moment—and after the fact as needed—to avoid letting frustrations fester.
Family Dinner Tip #4 – Don’t Backseat Drive and Don’t Keep Score
If someone other than you is in charge of something for the meal, they’re in charge and you get to go do something else. Keeping score on who does how much and/or telling someone how to do something can quickly lead to negative meal time emotions, so try to relax and let other people be in charge when they are!
Family Dinner Tip #5: You See a Problem, You Deal with the Problem
If a kid spills Cheerios on the floor, we clean it up. If there’s a bib full of food sitting on the table, deal with it. If the dog spills their water bowl, wipe it up before someone steps in it and tracks water all over the house. Try not to let these things all fall to one person because that’s just not fair!
Tell Us What You Think!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this podcast episode, so please comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you have feedback on the timing of starting solids or have a feeding kids question for us, we’d love to hear from you